Alcohol Answers

How do I talk to dad about how he hurt me as a kid, & how do I process why I am the way I am now.

Growing up in a dysfunctional home can lead to the members (esp. children) in the home suffering from mental health disorders or other self-defeating challenges. The word, "dysfunctional" can refer to any family lacking the homeostasis of two fully functioning parents (adults) in the home to provide a nurturing and healthy environment for proper development of the individuals in the home. The healthy homeostasis of the family can be disrupted when there is a family member requiring more attention and care than normal. This can occur when a parent (or child) suffers for a mental health, substance abuse, or medical condition, which inhibits the parents from performing their needed parental duties fully (due to a family member needing more care and attention than normal), which tends to disrupt the homeostasis and shift more responsibility on the fully functioning parent and also an older child or older children to attempt to maintain some healthy functioning of the family unit. This stress or tension due to this imbalance is distributed throughout the family unit, even to the children, who may have to grow up faster to function in certain roles placed upon them. This can, in turn, lead to anxiety, depression, or other cognitive challenges over time due the additional amount of tension or stress produced in the home. This added stress can condition the members in the family to be in fight-or-flight response as a result due to fear of the unknown or future due to the family members (usually children) taking on roles that they are not mentally and emotional capable of performing effectively. Emotional and psychological (manipulation) abuse can cause additional cognitive and other developmental challenges due to these being childhood scars that get overlooked, because they cannot be seen like the scars or wounds from physical abuse. As a result, boundaries in the family are very unhealthy (being to restraining and controlling allowing no room for growth and independence or lacking to the extent there is little or no supervision and too much independence and freedom). Without healthy boundaries in place, children lack a sense of security, guidance, and nurturing. This is why most children in dysfunctional homes grow up as codependent individuals with poor emotional, physical, and other boundaries. They have no idea where they end and other begin. They lose their identities in relationships due to fears of abandonment, rejection, or being alone, which results in intense people-pleasing behaviors (such as adopting the interests, likes, and desires of others, although they may feel uncomfortable or uninterested). They tend to feel responsible for and tending to others, while neglecting their own needs or wants. Emotional abuse damages feelings of confidence and self-worth causing a person to never feel good enough, like a failure, and leading them to try too hard to prove their self-worth by overachieving aimlessly to be affirmed by others. Manipulation and other forms of psychological abuse can leave those affected feeling confused about what they want, feel, or think; indecisive in their decision-making abilities; and more dependent upon others. Emotional management can be a challenge due to not being taught how to properly identify and express your emotions. Sometimes in dysfunctional homes, expressing one's emotions were viewed as weak or not encouraged. This usually encourages the suppressing of emotions or unhealthy coping to deal with emotions (such as eating disorders, self-harm, codependency, fighting, bullying, substance abuse, or other types of addictive or self-defeating behaviors).    Unforgiveness with family members is common when growing up in a dysfunctional home, due to frequent disappointments that lead to anger, which later festers into unresolved resentments. Resentments can be worked through effectively in counseling, whether the person you resent is still living or deceased. A licensed therapist can work with you by use of letter writing, roleplaying, the empty chair technique, or other therapeutic interventions and modalities to help you heal from these invisible wounds of your childhood. 
(M.Ed., LCMHC)
Answered on 01/20/2022

How do I stop my porn addiction?

I would highly encourage you to seek out treatment, if watching porn has gotten to a place where it feels as though it is not controllable, or that it has affected your relationships and or your sex life very negatively. If you were molested as a child, that very likely could have something to do with how you view sex and your relationship with sex as an adult. That would be trauma work that would be worth also working on in therapy or in other therapeuatic settings.    Here is some general information regarding addiciton. It focuses on use of a substance but you could replace that with any other type of addition- be it sex, gambling, food etc.    Addiction: a disease involving continued use of a substance despite serious substance-related problems, such as loss of control over use, health problems, or negative social consequences.  Signs of Addiction Loss of Control Over Substance Use Using more of the substance than intended Difficulty reducing substance use Significant time spent obtaining, using, or recovering from substance Having cravings: strong desire to use substance   Social / Occupational Problems Not fulfilling major obligations at work, school, or home Social problems caused by continued use of substance Decreasing or giving up important social or occupational activities Risky Use Using the substance in situations where it is physically dangerous Physical or psychological problems caused by continued use of the substance Physical Effects Building tolerance: needing more of the substance to achieve desired effect Experiencing withdrawal: physical or psychological symptoms when not using the substance  Addiction Facts Addiction is a disease. Addiction causes changes in the brain's structure and functioning. It is not caused by poor willpower or character flaws. Addiction can grow slowly and isn't always easy to see. Many people with addiction continue to function in some parts of their life, but have problems in other areas. Relapse means returning to regular substance use after a period of sobriety. A lapse, on the other hand, is an isolated incident of use without returning to old patterns of substance use. Relapses can happen at any point during recovery, which is a lifelong process. Those who are in recovery are at heightened risk during periods of stress.  Addiction Treatment Individual Therapy: A therapist helps change substance-related thoughts and behaviors and increase motivation for change. Group Therapy: Led by a therapist, members encourage and support one another in making meaningful life changes. Support Groups: Meet with peers who are also in recovery and participate in a social environment free of substances. Medication: Used in specific cases for symptom management, medication is most effective when paired with therapy.
(MA, LMFT)
Answered on 01/20/2022

How do I get out of this toxic marriage?

Berries,   Thank you for reaching out. I am very sorry to hear that you are struggling so much right now with your marriage. If we were working together in counseling, I would ask you to identify who your supports and resources are. Friends, family, coworkers, neighbors, etc. You indicate your intention is to get out of the marriage, do you have a plan in place? It is going to be very important for you to have a plan set as to how you are going to leave and to feel confident in the decision.   Alcoholism effects not only the person who is drinking, but everyone around them, particularly those closest to them. If he is not able or willing to make the necessary changes, there is not anything you are going to be able to do to help him. He has to want to change.   It is also likely that once you tell him your plan to leave, he will try to guilt you or talk you out of it. Might try to make you sound or feel "crazy" for feeling the way that you do. It is especially important to remember that you are none of those things. If an alcoholic is called out for their behavior, they can become very defensive and go into a stage of denial of having a problem and instead try to make the other person think that they are incorrect and that there is not a problem. He might try to guilt you about taking the baby away from him. They do not want to own or admit the problem, if they are not ready to deal with it.   Often times, the only way out of a toxic relationship is to leave. From what you are describe about him, he seems unlikely to change. As I mentioned, he has to want to change. It is important for you to remain firm with your decision and not let him make you question or doubt yourself.   For resources, Alanon is an excellent group and provides a support system with others are also dealing with a loved one having an issue with alcohol.   I hope that this information is helpful and I wish you all the best in this journey. Trust yourself and your judgement. 
Answered on 01/20/2022

How can unstable childhood experiences affect substance abuse issues in adult life?

Congrats on your newly found sobriety. That is awesome and you should be proud. Yes the substances mask our true feelings. You are right that there are other deeper issues to be explored. We all suppress our true feelings at times. Some of us want to avoid our true feelings and we turn to substances or other things to cope. Throughout this process, it is important to learn what are your triggers, how to cope in a healthy way, and how to release your emotions. These are things that many people struggle with on a regular basis. We all have tendencies to try and avoid our deny things that have happened over the years.  Talking with a therapist about all the above and your childhood will benefit you. We all have things in the past that we carry with us into adulthood. You could of learned unhealthy coping skills. Remember as a child you had different coping skills than you have now. Sometimes we need to heal from the past to move forward in the present. A therapist can help you identify those areas and help you figure out the deeper issues.  Most of us have issues that we subconsciously have hidden away from ourselves. We all need help at times to unlock these issues. Also, we all have coped in unhealthy ways with our emotions. These things are hard to deal with on your own.  It sounds like you have had to deal with a lot on your own. I am sure you learned how to cope with your emotions but not always in the best ways. There are so many ways to deal with difficult childhoods and to cope with emotions. It sounds like you have been able to deal with a lot which is a sign of strength, determination, and perseverance.  I am sure you don't always feel those things but remind yourself of the good that has come from the difficult times. I think speaking with a therapist will greatly benefit you and help you maintain your sobriety.  I am glad that you are here asking these questions. 
Answered on 01/20/2022

How does one effectively move on from a life that has been filled with trauma?

Since we are so close to 9/11 in time, let me use this 20-year old event as a metaphor.  Disaster struck on the morning of 9/11/01.  It took the nation and the world days and weeks to comprehend the impact and the loss we experienced.  New Yorkers, though, had to keep going about their daily lives.  Many had to drive or walk right by this giant crater where two landmark glorious structures once stood.  Eventually, efforts were made to memorialize this spot.  Psychologically and socially, most of us focused on this spot for months, but as we continued life we had to focus on other things.  Yet this spot remained and still remains.  Its a historical marker that we can all visit physically and mentally.  Trauma and grief are like this historical marker in Manhatten.  Its an indelible mark on the geography of our heart.  New Yorkers who live and work nearby see it; they remember, but they can't stay there staring at it for long because they've got things to do.  Eventually, it becomes part of the landscape.  We have to do the same with the traumas and losses in our own lives - recognize they are part of our psychological landscape but not park our consciousness or our focus there because we've got things to do.   What you are describing in your life are Adverse Childhood Events.  There's a test you can take to assess your level of adverse childhood events at https://acestoohigh.com/got-your-ace-score/.  This test has been widely studies and it indicates strongly that if you score 4 or higher you are much MUCH more likely to be at risk for addictions, mental health problems, suicide, and lifestyle related health problems.  This means that the painful events of abuse and neglect we experience as a child have far-reaching effects on us as adults.  What counteracts these negative effects are resiliencies - positive childhood events.  These can be positive experiences, influential people that were helpful and not hurtful, education,  and your own adaptabilities.  The book and movie "Hillbilly Elegy" is a great example of both ACEs and Resiliencies.  The main character, JD Vance, had a grandmother that provided some protection and a lot of motivation to focus on education.  This allowed him to break the cycle of dysfunction that was so prevalent in his family of origin.   We are all born into families that we cannot choose.  Many of us experience hurt and trauma that results in us trying to survive as best we know how.  This is called "The Adaptive Child".  The adaptive child develops patterns of thinking and behaving that help her survive.  The problem is that these thoughts and behaviors are carried into our adulthood and prevent us from becoming functional adults.  The "Functional Adult" is able to adapt again by dropping the now obsolete and useless thoughts and behaviors that worked to keep them alive as children but now are problematic as adults.   For instance, it's a good survival technique for kids to be mindful of their caregivers' well-being and happiness - because if mom or dad is doing OK then the kid can relax a little.  So their efforts to manage and fix things to keep their caregivers happy are very reinforced.  This carries over to adulthood with bad consequences.  Functional adults don't want to be managed.  They have healthy boundaries that say "my response is my responsibility" and a mentality to "stay in my own lane".   So the challenge is parenting yourself instead of everyone else.  This means being in charge of managing your own emotions and letting other people figure out their emotions.  It means being aware of what you need in order to be emotionally and relationally healthy and prioritizing this appropriately.  What did you need and not receive in order to experience safety, esteem, trust, love and well-being?  Rather than dismissing these as unimportant, prioritize them and find ways to get them in ways that are good for you and good for those around you.   Self-acceptance and nurturance are vital to mental health and healthy relationships.  Virginia Satir has a great statement of self-esteem and I would advise using it as a mantra that would put "all that crap" in its proper place in your life.  I admire you for asking the question and seeking answers.  I hope you find this answer helpful.  My Declaration of Self-Esteem  By Virginia Satir "I am me. In all the world, there is no one else exactly like me. There are persons who have some parts like me, but no one adds up exactly like me. Therefore, everything that comes out of me is authentically mine, because I alone choose it. I own everything about me : my body, including everything it does; my mind, including all its thoughts and ideas; my eyes, including the images of all they behold; my feelings , whatever they might be anger, joy, frustration, love, disappointment, excitement; my mouth, and all the words that come out of it, polite, sweet or rough, correct or incorrect; my voice, loud or soft; and all my actions, whether they be to others or myself. I own my fantasies, my dreams, my hopes, my fears. I own all my triumphs and successes , all my failures and mistakes. Because I own all of me, I can become intimately acquainted with me . By so doing, I can love me and be friendly with me in all my parts. I can then make it possible for all of me to work in my best interests. I know there are aspects about myself that puzzle me, and other aspects that I do not know. But as long as I am friendly and loving to myself, I can courageously and hopefully look for the solutions to the puzzles and for ways to find out more about me. However I look and sound, whatever I say and do, and whatever I think and feel at a given moment in time is me. This is authentic and represents where I am at that moment in time. When I review later how I looked and sounded, what I said and did, and how I thought and felt, some parts may turn out to be unfitting. I can discard that which is unfitting , and keep that which proved fitting, and invent something new for that which I discarded. I can see, hear, feel, think, say, and do. I have the tools to survive, to be close to others, to be productive, and to make sense and order out of the world of people and things outside of me. I own me, and therefore, I can engineer me. I am me and I am okay."
(PhD, LMFT)
Answered on 01/20/2022

Why is it so hard to stop a bad habit or behavior even though you know it is making your life worse?

Any habit that affects us in a negative way should be addressed. Whether we are aware/conscious of it or not, we get a pay off. You mention alcohol specifically. Alcohol numbs us. We aren't worried or anxious while numb. So that pay off is not feeling the feeling you're avoiding. With alcohol, it's hard to quit because it's not only keeping us safe from our emotions, but it becomes physiological. Meaning your body becomes tolerant, you need more for the desire effect. Then your body becomes dependent. Meaning the systems in your body have acclimated to having alcohol to function---it got used to it. Quitting cold turkey we have withdrawals. So we drink not to feel sick with withdrawal. Important to know alcohol withdrawal can be fatal if not done with the help of an MD or a detox center.  Further is we don't stop a bad habit even knowing it's causing damage in your life, is because it's a disease and a habit, simply. We're familiar with it. We don't like change. It may be the only coping skill in our toolbox. The compulsion is too great we are literally out of control of our own decision making and stopping isn't easy. Whatever the negative habit, we've used it so long and are so driven by it, it takes a conscious recognition to even become aware change is needed, then we need to seek help either with a therapist or in/outpatient program. It takes really hard work to expel a bad habit. Our mind may play tricks on use, obsession, so much so that we begin to isolate because we've been so attached to this habit we think if they see me they'll know. Further, we begin to think and feel that nobody understands us and why we do what we do, paranoia. Some of us don't even consider it negative. THEY have the problem, not me. I wish they would stop harping on my _____________________(fill in the blank). If they'd just leave me alone everything would be fine. This is the mental hold habits have on us. The habit makes the decisions, not us.
(LPC, Licensed, professional, counselor, LCDC, Licensed, chemical, dependency, counselor, Masters, in, educational, psychology)
Answered on 01/20/2022

How can I set up monthly, local, in person therapy sessions to work on below listed issues?

Dear Chris P.,  Thanks for reaching out with this question. I think it takes both strength and courage to reach out for support when you are struggling. It sounds like you have been struggling with depression and anxiety for quite some time. Often times we find that people use substances to avoid these symptoms  as they are often uncomfortable and make functioning challenging. The challenge with this avoidance behaviors is that it can lead to substance abuse and does not actually treat the cause of the problem.  Depression and anxiety are very common mental health disorders that should be taken seriously and be treated. Anxiety is one of the most pervasive and common disorders in the US that is characterized by intense, excessive, and persistent worry or fear about everyday situations. These feeling of anxiety can be disabling as it  interferes with daily activities, is difficult to control, is out of proportion to the actual danger, and can often last a long time. Sometimes people start to avoid certain places or situations to prevent these feelings from occurring.  As I mentioned, depression is also quite common as 1 out of every 6 adults will experience depression sometime in their life. It is more than just feeling down or having the 'blues' now and again, which can be a normal response to life stressors. Depression makes a person feel discouraged, sad, hopeless, unmotivated, or disinterested in life in general. It can negatively impact how you feel about yourself, the way you think, and how you act. Symptoms of depression last for at 2 weeks and are persistent. The symptoms not only decrease you ability to function at home and work, but also impact your relationships with other people as it changes the way you interact, function, and relate to others.  People with untreated depression (and other mental health diagnosis) typically have a lower quality of life, higher risk of suicide, and worse prognosis if they have any medical conditions that exist alongside depression. Although thoughts of suicide can be common with depression (sometimes called suicide ideation), it is important to understand that these can be very serious and should not be ignored. If you are experiencing these, I would be open and upfront with your medical provider and seek out emergency care if you are actively experiencing these. You can present to the nearest ED to be evaluated, call an ambulance, or reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline for support at 1-800-273-8255.  You also mention some significant substance use issues that you are taking Gabapentin (typically prescribed for seizures, nerve pain, or withdrawal symptoms) and having some potential long-term health concerns related to this substance use. Alcohol addictions occur when someone is unable to stop drinking regardless of the consequences that are put in place. Addiction not only has negative health effects but has psychological and social effects from use. It is important to understand alcohol use and seek the right support to diminish these negative influences.  It is not uncommon for people with substance abuse to also have co-occurring mental health conditions. Mental health conditions involve changes in thinking, mood, and/or behaviors. These disorders can affect how we relate to others and the subsequent choices we might make. Often times depression and anxiety occur first and people turn to substances to "feel better" or "numb emotions." Unfortunately, alcohol is actually a depressant and does not actually have that intended impact. Alcohol will actually exacerbate existing anxiety and depression symptoms.  I would recommend completing a mental health and chemical use assessment to better assess the severity of the symptoms you are experiencing.  A thorough assessment will assure that something is not missed when considering treatment options and also make recommendations that will best match your diagnosis/symptoms. A recommendation of monthly treatment may or may not be the appropriate level of intervention for your specific presenting problems.  You should be able to access an assessment in your community through your local health care provider if you have coverage. You might also be able to reach out to the local county you reside in and request a rule 25 assessment (depending on income need) to access treatment.  Unfortunately, BetterHelp does not provide in-person care as you are looking for and you may be limited with COVID restrictions. These are slowly starting to change, so you should be able to find a provider in your community that is taking clients in person. You might also find support in local groups like smart recovery or AA. Many people with similar presenting problems find that group therapy combined with individual work is helpful in reaching their goals. You should be able to find a local group by searching online.  Outside of these recommendations, you might find some additional support through SAMHSA and NAMI. These are both great organizations that offer a plethora of resources, search options for therapists, and local groups.  I again want to commend you on taking this first step toward seeking out support as it is often one of the hardest steps. As you described the longevity of your struggles, I do feel that it would be helpful to seek out the right support to ensure that you can develop healthy coping skills and engage in life in more meaningful ways. I wish you the best of luck as you continue this recovery journey.  Best,  Kelsey Place, MSW, LICSW  
(MSW, LICSW)
Answered on 01/20/2022

Help with substance use?

Hey JD,  Thank you so much for reaching out. Dealing with addiction is really hard, and 6 sessions is a really short amount of time. Please stick with it! Also, it is important to keep in mind that it takes an average of 7 tries at treatment before a substance user can get sober. That also means that for some people it will take more than 7 tries. It isn't a fast or easy process.    I also want to say that getting off opioids is really hard. I have heard that getting off opioid blockers is just as hard or even harder than getting off the original opioid. Progressing towards sobriety is really hard. Even though it is hard, it is possible. Please don't give up on your life or feel defeated even though it is hard.    One of the first things I do with clients is to look at their reasons for staying sober. Write them down, no matter how big or how small they may seem. Put them somewhere you can see them often. Keep a picture of it as your home screen on your phone. Some of my clients write them out on note cards and review them daily. When you feel triggered, look at your reasons for staying sober.    You may also write out people and places you need to avoid until you feel stronger in your sobriety. Delete phone numbers of people you used to use with. Delete the text messages. Get them off your social media. If you can avoid a place or driving down a street that triggers you, do that.    Another thing is to get connected with AA or NA and get a sponsor. There are some great resources online about what to look for in a sponsor. I often recommend early morning meetings because the folks there are usually professionals and have usually been in recovery for a long time. At the same time, I recommend checking out a few different meetings because they all have different "personalities" so to speak. The support you have around you is essential to gaining and maintaining sobriety and bouncing back from relapse. A lot of people find it really helpful to call their sponsor or other support when they feel an urge to use because that support person can help manage emotions until the urge to use has passed.    The last thing that I will say is alcohol and substance use are problems on their own, but they are also often symptoms of bigger, deeper issues. As you gain stability in your sobriety you may find there are other issues you want to or need to address. Being sober is part of the solution.    I hope you have found these tips helpful as you work with your therapist on getting to sobriety. Good luck, and never give up!
(LMHC, CSAC)
Answered on 01/20/2022

Hi, I don’t know if I should be there for a family member or take a paus and step back?

Hello! It can be so difficult to determine the best way to help a friend or family member who struggles with addiction. It is clear that you care about this person very much. You are spending time and emotional energy trying to figure out how to help. They are fortunate to have you in their lives.It is not uncommon for those who have addiction issues to lie, manipulate, and even steal from their friends and family members to cover up or avoid the consequences of their addiction. These behaviors often negatively affect the lives of those who care for them which inevitably puts a strain on their relationships. It is important to remember that addiction is a disease. It is not caused by an individual's character, behaviors, or morals. You already acknowledged that your family member has experienced trauma and has other mental health issues. So, it seems you have a good understanding of that. That said, it is also not uncommon for the behaviors of friends and family members to enable the addiction. Of course, this happens unintentionally. The last thing we want is to harm our loved ones by enabling the addiction. Just as people with chronic illnesses need to seek professional treatment, so do those with addiction. How does one motivate an addict to get treatment? The answer is simple, but it is not easy. We have to stop enabling the addiction so that the person's life is uncomfortable to the point that they see treatment as their only option. Otherwise, why would they stop? Just as enablers play a part in maintaining their loved one's addiction, we can also play a part in the solution. Setting healthy boundaries is the best way to do that. The boundaries have to be clearly set and strictly followed. That means you, and other family members do nothing to support behaviors that make you uncomfortable or are unacceptable, absolutely nothing. As I said, it's simple but not easy.  It will be best if you and the addict's other family members and friends are on the same page. Is that something you think is possible? Regardless, you need to be clear with this person that you will not be providing them with money, or a place to stay, or anything that enables their addiction. Set a specific time to explain your new boundaries, ideally when your loved one is sober/clean. Start by expressing your love and care for them, and that is why you are setting these new rules. Some to consider are No substances in my home or around me. If you get arrested, I will not bail you out, and I will not pay for any legal services you may need. I will not make excuses or cover for you in any way in any situation. None of your friends who abuse substances are welcome in my home. I will not give you any money.  Do not be surprised if they refuse treatment, lash out at you, and say hurtful things. When times get difficult, and they will remind themselves that you are doing this because you love and care about them, and it is for their own good. It is also for your own good. Please practice radical self-care and consider finding a support group for yourself and your family members (like Alanon). I wish you the best in your endeavors.       
(MS, LMFT)
Answered on 01/20/2022

Good day Kindly assist as am very addicted to alcohol....can you assist with solutions

Hello! Thank you for reaching out. It takes a lot of courage to confront addiction and I am glad that you are seeking support.  I do not know how much information you have about alcohol addiction and withdrawal, so I will start with a quick summary. When we take a substance like alcohol over an extended period of time, our brain and body get used to having it there. If we stop using that substance, even for a short time, our brain and body need time to adjust. While we adjust, we usually experience discomfort and other symptoms. This is what we call "withdrawal". You describe feeling moody when you don't have alcohol and you also say that your hands shake. These may be symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. Alcohol withdrawal is serious and can cause life-threatening problems. Your safety is the most important thing. If you have not already done so, I recommend talking to a doctor or another medical professional as soon as possible. Addiction is a medical issue and a medical provider can help you decide what you need in order to withdraw from alcohol safely. It is great news that your liver looks good! Because alcohol is absorbed in the blood, it travels all over the body and affects more than just the liver. A doctor can also help determine whether there is damage anywhere else in your body and help you treat that if needed.  If you do not have a medical provider or you are not ready to talk to them yet, another option would be to contact an alcohol detoxification (detox) clinic or treatment program. If you are located in the United States, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA: https://www.samhsa.gov/find-treatment) is a good place to start looking for services in your area. SAMHSA also has a 24-hour helpline to help you find resources, at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).  For other places in the world, you should be able to do an internet search for "detox near me" and find some resources that way. Once your medical safety has been addressed, we can think about treatment in the longer term. Addiction is complicated and every person's experience is unique. That means there is no one-size-fits-all solution. If you don't already know, it can be helpful to ask yourself what your goals are. Do you want to stop drinking entirely? Do you want to cut back? Do you want to understand why it has been difficult to stop? Has drinking caused other problems in your life that you want to fix? Maybe you don't really know what your goals are, and that is okay too.  It can also be helpful to ask yourself what kind of support you have and what kind of support you want. It is hard to work through addiction alone and most people need some kind of support. Some people turn to family and friends, some participate in support groups with other people recovering from addiction, some speak with a counselor or therapist, and some people use a combination of these things. It is important to have a supportive, non-judgmental place where you can work through what has led you here and help you move forward. If you are interested in connecting with a support group, many options are available both online and in person. Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is an organization with chapters all over the world, and an extensive online network. You can find links for internet-based meetings here (https://aa-intergroup.org/) and resources for in-person meetings here (https://aa-intergroup.org/oiaa/resources/in-person-meetings). LifeRing is another type of support group which also has international meetings, both online (https://lifering.org/online-meetings/) and in-person (https://lifering.org/f2f-meetings/). If you decide to try talking to a therapist, there are a few different ways to find a good fit. On the BetterHelp platform, every therapist has a profile page that will provide information about their specialties and approach. You can look through profiles here (https://www.betterhelp.com/therapists/) and request to work with someone you like. You can also be matched with a counselor by completing a brief questionnaire on the homepage (https://www.betterhelp.com/). You may want to look for a therapist who has special training in addiction or who mentions other things you want to talk about. If you decide to seek in-person support or look for a therapist another way, there are many online resources that may be helpful. For example, Psychology Today (https://www.psychologytoday.com/) has a directory of therapists and counseling agencies all over the world, as well as blogs and other resources about mental health. Many therapists offer consultations so that you can talk with them about what you are looking for and ask any questions you may have about their approach. Whether you are doing therapy in person or online, it is always okay to give a counselor feedback if something isn’t working for you. It is also okay to change therapists if you want to try something different. It is important to find someone who helps you feel comfortable and supported. However you choose to proceed, I wish you very good luck. Warmly, Kate
(MA, LPC)
Answered on 01/20/2022

How can I stop abusing & using alcohol?

I am so sorry to hear that you are struggling with a possible addiction to alcohol. A lot of times addictions are related to unaddressed feelings that alcohol helps distract from. It will be important to recognize when your feelings have a purpose versus when they do not.  We of course want positive feelings in our lives, but sometimes negative feelings are there for a reason and we need to live out that purpose in order for it to get better.  If we do not live out the purpose of our feelings, it likely leads us to feel worse.  For example, something as simple as having anxiety about needing to get the chores done has the purpose of getting us motivated to get the chores done.  Therefore, if we do not live out that purpose and the chores remain undone, that can lead to more bad feelings, such as, “I am lazy” or “I am worthless.”  This is a simple example of how if we do not pay attention to our feelings and live out the purpose, they can become much, much worse.  So, I would encourage you to try and separate out the thoughts that have a purpose from the thoughts that do not have a purpose and are more intrusive.    For the ones that do have a purpose, it can be helpful to allow yourself to think through the anxious thoughts because anxiety has a nasty way of going to the worst possible scenario.  If you can wrap your head around that scenario, it can make it less scary.  For example, I had a client that was very anxious daily about being single for the rest of his life.  Thinking to that extreme is clearly anxiety and it just lingers there.  So, then he was able to think through that scenario and come up with a plan to make it less scary.  He then came up with that if he really is going to be single the rest of his life, which is highly unlikely, he is going to work towards being able to live close to the ocean since that is a dream of his.  Thinking about it now does not make him as scared because he recognizes he could be happy with that. So, try to think through specific things you are anxious about that have a purpose and make sure you have a specific plan on how to improve those things. For example, having a specific plan for how to address specific triggers that lead you to drink.   Intrusive thoughts tend to not have a purpose and it can be really helpful to try and overpower those before they are accepted as truths.   We can have power over our thoughts and I want to help you not engage in these thoughts that make you so upset.  The easiest example of this that I can think of is if I went skydiving.  If I went skydiving I would have some obvious, rational, anxious thoughts.  If I really have a desire to skydive though I will need to not engage in those thoughts.  I might have thoughts such as, "My parachute could fail, I will hit the ground, I am going to pass out, etc."  However, since I really want to follow through with skydiving, I would want to stop those thoughts in their tracks with, "I know this is going to be really fun, they inspect the parachutes ahead of time, people hardly ever get hurt doing this, etc."  By focusing on those thoughts and not engaging in the others, I would be able to follow through with skydiving. Try to sort through any thoughts that get you down about yourself and that you can’t handle all of this and try to overpower those.  These types of thoughts are very common when dealing with this kind of addiction.   As you do those processes it can be helpful to validate yourself as someone who has been able to persevere through difficult circumstances in the past.  Something that could be helpful for you is what I like to call centering thoughts.  These are thoughts that are predetermined and unique to you for you to turn to in low moments.  They need to be powerful enough to bring you back to your center.  It is important that these thoughts are accessible for you to look at when you need to.  Some clients prefer to read and re-read them and some prefer to write and re-write them until they feel better.  I have clients that write these somewhere they will see daily such as their bathroom mirror or phone background, while others simply have them in their phone to pull out when they need to.  An example of a centering thought would be from a client I had that related to nautical-themed things and her thought was, "I will not let this sink me."  Another example is from an Olympic skier that actually had difficulties with negative thinking getting in the way of her performance so she went to therapy.  She mentioned that she learned about centering thoughts to battle all of the people telling her she “should be” or “should do.”  To battle those thoughts, she uses the simple centering thought of, “I am.”  She can then remind herself that she is good enough, that she is confident, and that she does want to still compete, which really affirms her own feelings and not others.  Hopefully, you can come up with something that helps validate your worth and abilities to move forward.       I hope that some of this is helpful and that you can apply it to your circumstances.  I hope that you can lean on some family and/or friends through this.  Doing so can help take the weight off of your shoulders as well as hopefully get some valuable advice from them. Try to take the healing one day at a time and adding one positive thing back into your life each day. I wish you all the best and I hope that you are staying safe.
(MA, LPC, NCC)
Answered on 01/20/2022

How do I get help? And want help is available, I’m not keen on speaking face to face with someone

Dear Hello,   Thank you for your message and sharing. It seems that the drinking behavior you've been engaging in is causing you harm and damage, also to your family. I appreciate your trust and courage in acknowledging these facts and your willingness in learning to change them.   You mentioned that your primary goal is to change some of the destructive behaviors. This prompted me to be thinking if we should do exploration on what drew us into these behaviors in the first place? As you might already know, we cannot just force our way out of something without understanding why we got into it in the first place, otherwise what we're doing isn't really bringing closure to it, rather we're just trying to suppress it until it comes back to surface again.   Therefore if you truly want closure to these behaviors, we might want to study a bit about them and the functions they serve in your life.   Behavior is what we humans do. Behavior is observable and measurable. Whether it is walking from one place to another or cracking our knuckles, behavior serves some "function" or the other.   The behaviors that you mentioned you wanted to change, are definitely behaviors that have functions.   Applied Behavior Analysis, the research-based approach to modifying behavior, seeks to find the "function" of inappropriate behavior in order to find a replacement behavior to replace it. Every behavior serves some function and provides a consequence (reinforcement) for the behavior.   When we successfully identify the "function" of the behavior we can reinforce an alternate, acceptable behavior that will replace it. When we have that particular "need" or function fulfilled by an alternate means, the maladaptive or unacceptable behavior is less likely to reappear. Let say if someone needs attention, and we give them attention in an appropriate way because of appropriate behavior, we cement the appropriate behavior and make the inappropriate or unwanted behavior less likely to appear.    For instance, we can teach someone to respect our boundaries by responding to them only when they respect our boundaries, and ignore them when they don't.   The reason why I am bringing up functions behind our behaviors is that if we are to change a certain behavior (let say cheating for example), we must understand what motivates us / drives us to cheat. That way if we understand the reward behind the cheating (for example, being listened to, the thrill of getting to know someone of the opposite sex, fulfilling our sexual desires...etc), then we can decide how to develop alternative strategies to meet these needs without engaging in unwanted behaviors.   To begin with, let's understand the 6 primary functions behind every behavior:   1. To obtain a preferred item or activity. (For example, we engage in sexual activities in order to meet our sexual needs.)   2. Escape or avoidance. The behavior helps us to escape from a setting or activity that we don't want. (For example, we lie so that we won't get caught)   3. To get attention from others. (For example, we choose what we wear thinking about how we want others to look at us.)   4. To communicate. (Similar to no.3, when we get upset we raise our voice around so that people will know that we are upset)    5. Self Stimulation, when the behavior itself provides reinforcement. (For example, we engage in gambling because the process in itself gives us thrill and excitement).   6. Control or Power. Some of us feel particularly powerless and a problem behavior may give us a sense of power or control. (For example, we put others down so that we feel superior over them, in order to protect ourselves or have control over the other person).   The next step is to identify the function behind our behaviors:   Antecedent -- Behavior - Consequence   Antecedent: the environment in which the behavior occurs, the circumstances that surround the occurrence of the behavior or people in the environment when the behavior occurs.   Behavior: The behavior, what we actually do, needs to be defined.   Consequence:  Everything that happens after the behavior, including how people respond to the behavior, what happens to us after the behavior.   The clearest evidence of how behavior functions for us is seen in the Antecedent (A) and the Consequence (C.)   The Antecedent is everything that happens immediately before the behavior occurs. It is sometimes also referred to as "the Setting Event" but a setting event may be part of the antecedent, but not the whole.    We would ask "Is there something in the environment that may lead to the behavior (let say we tend to cheat when we feel lonely or neglected by our partner)   "Is there something that happens in that environment that seems to have a causal relationship, like after fighting with our partner, or feeling rejected?   The Consequence part: The term consequence has a very specific meaning, which at the same time is broader than the use of "consequence," as it usually is, to mean "punishment." The consequence is what happens as the result of the behavior.   That consequence is usually the "reward" or "reinforcement" for the behavior. Do we enjoy getting away from our actions? Do we enjoy the secret part in keeping a cheating relationship? Do we enjoy seeing how attractive we are by cheating? It is usually in how the consequence interacts with the antecedent that we can find the function of the behavior.   In drinking behaviors, these questions can help us understand why we drink and what sort of rewards/consequences do we get (or get away with) from drinking. Are we using alcohol to get rid of/avoid certain emotions such as stress or boredom? Are we using alcohol to achieve a certain state of mind such as relaxation or happiness?    This framework might give us something to think about in terms of why we do what we do.   Once we have some answers, then it'll be our choice to decide whether or not we want to change, and how if we do want to change.   Looking forward to talking with you more, Jono
(MSW, LICSW, LMHC)
Answered on 01/20/2022

Do you have significant experience counseling family members of addicted persons?

Yes. I have experience counseling family members of addicted persons and persons with addictions. Persons living with a person with an addiction often feel shame and guilt. The family member is not responsible for the addiction and is not the person who will solve the addiction. Drug addiction is a chronic, progressive, and sometimes fatal disease. In my opinion, your response is normal for anyone grieving a loss. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’ theory on grief provides an understandable process of the stages a person goes through when grieving a loss. Grief is a process that takes time, and support. I recommended family members of a person with an addiction to seek their own professional support, such as individual therapy and family therapy. The person with addiction should seek their own substance use specific therapy and have a period of remission/abstinence prior to engaging in family therapy. It is not the family member’s responsibility to find the “right” treatment program for their loved one but one of collaboration. If the family member is the enabler, they will make the decisions and the person with addiction, if they fail, will not be accountable for their relapse or lapses. There are resources like NAMI family, local support groups focus on the members and setting boundaries, as well as, understanding what addiction is and help one another through their experiences. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has a National Helpline 1(800) 662-4357for individuals and families facing mental and/or substance use disorders. Addiction is not a choice. There are stages in recovery and understanding the stages helps guide treatment. The addicted family member should seek individual support and their own treatment, just as the family member. Treating both the addiction and any mental health issues at the same time is often effective for co-occurring disorders because of the ways that these conditions interact with each other. If one disorder is left untreated, it can worsen and negatively affect any progress made to treat the other disorder. Additionally, the two conditions may be related to each other in complex ways, so treating them simultaneously offers the person the best opportunity to address these relationships and figure out how best to manage both disorders daily.
(LCSW, LCAS-A, CADC)
Answered on 01/20/2022

I am wanting to cut right down on alcohol and not stop completely, is this achievable?

Dear Patzy,   Thank you for your message and sharing. It seems that the drinking behavior you've been engaging is causing you harm and damage, also to your family. I appreciate your trust and courage in acknowledging these facts and your willingness in learning to change them.   You mentioned that your primary goal is to change some of the destructive behaviors. This prompted me to be thinking if we should do a exploration on what drew us into these behaviors at the first place? As you might already know, we cannot just force our way out of something without understanding why we got into it at the first place, otherwise what we're doing isn't really bringing closure to it, rather we're just trying to suppress it until it comes back to surface again.   Therefore if you truly want a closure to these behaviors, we might want to study a bit about it and the functions it serve in your life.   Behavior is what we humans do. Behavior is observable and measurable. Whether it is walk from one place to another or to crack our knuckles, behavior serves some "function" or the other.   The behaviors that you mentioned you wanted to change, are definitely behaviors that have functions.   Applied Behavior Analysis, the research based approach to modifying behavior, seeks to find the "function" of an inappropriate behavior in order to find a replacement behavior to replace it. Every behavior serves some function, and provides a consequence (reinforcement) for the behavior.   When we successfully identify the "function" of the behavior we can reinforce an alternate, acceptable behavior that will replace it. When we have that particular "need" or function fulfilled by an alternate means, the mal-adaptive or unacceptable behavior is less likely to reappear. Let say if someone needs attention, and we give them attention in an appropriate way because of appropriate behavior, we cement the appropriate behavior and make the inappropriate or unwanted behavior less likely to appear.    For instance we can teach someone to respect our boundaries by responding to them only when they respect our boundaries, and ignore them when they don't.   The reason why I am bringing up functions behind our behaviors is that if we are to change a certain behavior (let say cheating for example), we must understand what motivates us / drives us to cheat. That way if we understand the reward behind the cheating (for example, being listened to, the thrill of getting to know someone of the opposite sex, fulfilling our sexual desires...etc), then we can decide how to develop alternative strategies to meet these needs without engaging in unwanted behaviors.   To begin with, let's understand the 6 primary functions behind every behaviors:   1. To obtain a preferred item or activity. (For example, we engage in sexual activities in order to meet our sexual needs.)   2. Escape or avoidance. The behavior helps the us to escape from a setting or activity that we don't want. (For example, we lie so that we won't get caught)   3. To get attention from others. (For example, we choose what we wear thinking about how we want others to look at us.)   4. To communicate. (Similar to no.3, we when we get upset we raise our voice around so that people will know that we are upset)    5. Self Stimulation, when the behavior itself provides reinforcement. (For example, we engage in gambling because the process in itself gives us thrill and excitement).   6. Control or Power. Some of us feel particularly powerless and a problem behavior may give us a sense of power or control. (For example, we put others down so that we feel superior over them, in order to protect ourselves or have control over the other person).   The next step is to identify the function behind our behaviors:   Antecedent -- Behavior - Consequence   Antecedent: the environment in which the behavior occurs, the circumstances that surround the occurrence of the behavior or people in the environment when the behavior occurs.   Behavior: The behavior, what we actually do, needs to be defined.   Consequence:  Everything that happens after the behavior, including how people respond to the behavior, what happens to us after the behavior.   The clearest evidence of how a behavior functions for us is seen in the Antecedent (A) and the Consequence (C.)   The Antecedent is everything that happens immediately before the behavior occurs. It is sometimes also referred to as "the Setting Event" but a setting event may be part of the antecedent, but not the whole.    We would ask "Is there something in the environment that may lead to the behavior (let say we tend to cheat when we feel lonely or neglected by our partner)   "Is there something that happens in that environment that seems to have a causal relationship, like after fighting with our partner, or feeling rejected?   The Consequence part: The term consequence has a very specific meaning, which at the same time is broader than the use of "consequence," as it usually is, to mean "punishment." The consequence is what happens as the result of the behavior.   That consequence is usually the "reward" or "reinforcement" for the behavior. Do we enjoy getting away from our actions? Do we enjoy the secret part in keeping a cheating relationship? Do we enjoy seeing how attractive we are by cheating? It is usually in how the consequence interacts with the antecedent that we can find the function of the behavior.   In drinking behaviors, these questions can help us understand why we drink and what sort of rewards / consequences do we get (or get away with) from drinking. Are we using alcohol to get rid / avoid certain emotions such as stress or boredom? Are we using alcohol to achieve a certain state of mind such as relaxation or happiness?    This framework might give us something to think about in terms of why we do what we do.   Once we have some answers, then it'll be our choice to decide whether or not we want to change, and how if we do want to change.   Looking forward to talking with you more, Jono
(MSW, LICSW, LMHC)
Answered on 01/20/2022

No question

Thank-you for reaching out to better help for assistance. I look forward to assisting you. Sounds like you are saying that you have a serious drug addiction and that you are destroying your life every weekend. You stated that you have a good career, beautiful girlfriend and family that cares for you. You state that no one know how bad your addiction is besides your girlfriend. You stated that your addictions are alcohol and cocaine.  You state you have developed a form of torettes or tics when you think of something embarrassing. Yes, addictions are serious and hard to control and stop but you can do it. The most important step is that you are reaching out for help and that you are saying that you have a problem and that it is affecting your life. You are the one that has to decide you are sick and tired of how things are going and that you want to stop using alcohol and cocaine. These type of substances are very addicting and take time to get off and stop. The urge to use is very great. Our brains release dopamine chemical that is a reward. When this dopamine is released it makes the person feel good and happy. They might realize they don't like using but they like that dopamine and feeling and you have to really want to stop using. You could think of going to a substance abuse counselor for treatment. This would probably be a good idea so someone can monitor your progress. Also AA is a good program to go to for support. I would apply the cognitive behavioral therapy/ CBT  therapy. This therapy challenges your thoughts and beliefs to get the best possible outcome for yourself.  I would apply the ABC Method or CBT skill. A= the activating event, B= your thoughts and beliefs, C= the outcome or consequence. The key is to challenge your B or thoughts and beliefs to get the best C or outcome and consequence for yourself.  Your activating event is your usage of alcohol and cocaine and wanting to stop. When you have this urge or desire you do not want to be implusive and go from A to C and not think about it. You want to apply the B and challenge your thoughts and beliefs. Think and ask yourself is this the right thing for me to do or the wrong thing for me to do. Ask yourself will using help or hurt me?  Than you need to divert your activities to something else like going for a walk , talking to someone or doing something else. After about 1 hour your desire to use should decrease. You will need to do this everytime you have the desire to use alcohol and cocaine. You may make a mistake but get back on challenging your thoughts and beliefs. It may take a month or so but you soon will change your habits, if you stick with this and your desire to use alcohol and cocaine will decrease. I hope this helped you and I wish you the best. I look forward to hearing from you.
(LPC, NCC, MS)
Answered on 01/20/2022

I really need a counselor, but my financial situation is not supportive

Dear Mawenya,   Thank you for your message.   Changing an addictive behavior takes time and determination, as it is a process, not a goal.   There are two main aspects of working with addictive behaviors, and you have mentioned them both already: physical and mental.   There is surely a physical aspect when it comes to substance use therefore I would certainly recommend checking in with a chemical dependency counselor regarding the physiological aspect of detoxing and quitting. There needs to be a systematic step in this process otherwise we are just simply suppressing, not necessarily quitting.   To supplement the physical process of quitting, we also need to pave the ground mentally to accept that this is a process that requires time and patience, and it would be wise to also include relapse in this process. That is when being free from shame is crucial. We will have a relapse and we will fail (eventually everyone does in whatever we do in life), the matter is how to pick ourselves up again without blaming ourselves or shaming ourselves for our mistakes/failures. That takes a constant practice of self-compassion, acceptance and develop a mindset to be patient with ourselves and be non-judgmental with ourselves.   When people first become sober, they tend to be highly motivated. Their new life is exciting, and the world appears full of possibilities. As time passes, the newness of recovery fades away. Even when the sober life is so much more rewarding than the life of the addict the individual can begin to take things for granted. Eventually their motivation to stay sober begins to wane, and the risk of relapse increases. This is why one of the biggest challenges in recovery from addiction is to stay motivated.   It is sometimes said in a negative way that certain people lack motivation. This type of criticism is often not a true reflection of what is happening because even the person who sits around all day can be motivated. The problem is not so much that they lack motivation, but that they are motivated to do what other people would consider to be the wrong things. In simple terms, motivation can be described as the driving force behind action.   It is possible to distinguish two type of motivation: intrinsic motivation and extrinsic motivation. If people do things because they feel that it is good or right, then this would be referred to as intrinsic motivation. When people do things because of external pressure or influence, this is referred to as extrinsic motivation.   Sobriety is a Process and Not an Event   The idea that people just give up their addiction, and automatically live happily ever after, is a myth. This is because there will have been a reason why the individual fell into addiction in the first place; that reason will probably still be there when they get sober. The usual motivation for why people turn to substance abuse is an inability to cope with life– they will have been relying on ineffective coping strategies. If this individual just gives up alcohol or drugs without making any other changes, then they will just be back where they started. More work is needed so that this person is not only able to escape their addiction but also build a good life. This is why it is sometimes said that recovery is a process and not an event. As you have mentioned through your words, the individual who passes through rehab does not graduate. The journey is only just beginning.   Achieving Emotional Sobriety and Serenity   From my experience, those individuals who build a successful life away from addiction need to develop emotional sobriety. This means that they have developed the ability to deal with their emotions in a positive way. An emotionally sober person no longer needs to run away and hide from life in a bottle or drug induced haze. Instead, they are ready and willing to deal with life on life’s terms. They are willing to feel their feelings. This is where self-compassion comes into play. If we are unable to be compassionate towards ourselves, rather treat ourselves with harshness and sabotage our self-worth when we fail, you can imagine we will have a hard time developing emotional sobriety.   Another quality that people can develop in sobriety is serenity. This is closely related to emotional sobriety but can take much longer to develop. Serenity is the goal of the 12 Step program, but it can be achieved by people who walk other paths in recovery. It is a stage of development where the individual is able to handle anything that happens in their life without too much inner turmoil.   People develop serenity by constantly facing the challenges that come their way. As they deal with each unique problem, they develop new coping strategies. These coping strategies are like tools that they have to add to their toolbox. Eventually, the individual reaches a stage where they have tools to deal with almost every eventuality. They have developed serenity and life becomes easier. When the person reaches this stage of sobriety they have the ability to feel happy no matter what is happening in the outside world.   The Reasons People Lose Motivation in Long-term Recovery   There are many possible reasons for why people lose motivation after they have been sober for a few months or years. These are some of the most prominent:   * Memory can be treacherous for people who are recovering from an addiction. This is because the memory of how painful things were in addiction can diminish over time, and the individual can start to spend a great deal of time thinking about the times they felt good because of alcohol or drugs. This is known as romancing the drug or drink, and it can cause people to lose their motivation to stay sober.   * When people enter recovery with expectations that are unrealistic, it can lead to disappointment, and this saps motivation. The individual did not make a mess of their life overnight, so they will not be able to repair the damage overnight either. By giving up alcohol or drugs, they will be taking a significant step towards a better life, but there will be more work that needs to be done.   * Those individuals who were highly enthusiastic in early recovery can run out of steam. This is particularly likely to happen if they the individual went through a period of pink cloud syndrome. This occurs when people become so high on life in recovery that they lose touch with reality. Staying sober becomes easy, and the individual begins to take their sobriety for granted. When the pink cloud ends, people can come back down to earth with a bang. They can become disillusioned with life in recovery.   * Some people just lose their way in recovery. They get caught up in life and they forget to keep on doing the things that is helping them to build a successful recovery.   Dangers of Relapse and Dry Drunk Syndrome   Losing motivation in recovery is dangerous because it means that the individual can become stuck. This means that they may be in danger of a relapse back to their addiction because life in recovery is no longer satisfying. Even if the individual does not relapse they can still develop dry drunk syndrome. The dry drunk sees their sobriety as being similar to a prison sentence. They are not happy in recovery, and their behavior can be just as maladaptive as when they were in the midst of their addiction. The dry drunk has not emotional sobriety so they are unable to find real happiness. Such individuals are usually full of anger and resentment.   How to Stay Motivated in Long-term Sobriety   Staying motivated in long-term sobriety takes effort. These are some of the most successful strategies those in recovery employ:   * Helping other people in recovery is one of the most effective ways to stay motivated. In Alcoholics Anonymous, they say that you have to give it away to keep it, and this is what helping others is about. It reminds people in recovery about where they have come from, and what they would be going back to if they ever relapsed. By helping other people stay sober, the individual is strengthening their own recovery.   * Staying involved in the addiction recovery community can also keep people motivated. The individual may decide to join a recovery fellowship or become involve with an online community. There are now plenty of resources that people can turn to that will keep them connected with the world of recovery.   * Journaling has helped many people stay motivated in recovery. It means that the individual is always reflecting on their experiences and can more clearly see their progress. If people feel that they are starting to lose interest in recovery, they can read back on earlier journal entries and re-energize their motivation.   * Some rehabs offer booster sessions, and these can be a great resource for clients who wish to revamp their motivation.   * Maintaining a recovery blog can help people stay motivated in long-term sobriety. It is also a chance for people to help others and build up a network of online recovery friends. By regularly posting about their experiences in recovery, the individual is encouraged to reflect on their progress and think about their aspiration. It can be a type of journal. If people do not like writing, they could have an audio blog (_podcast_) or a video blog (_vlog_).   * Some people who use a recovery program such as the 12 Steps find that this helps keeps them motivated. The work of the steps is never finished, and having a program that has already worked for many people may mean that the individual is less likely to lose their way.   * Finding a spiritual path in recovery can help the individual maintain their motivation to stay sober. This could include meditation training such as mindfulness or body and mind regimes such as yoga.   * Some individuals have expectations of recovery that are too low. This means that they are prepared to settle for less than what is actually possible. It is important that people have goals in their sobriety and that they work towards achieving these.   If you are interested in addressing issues with substance use, I would certainly recommend that you seek help with a professional chemical dependency counselor in your region. They are the experts in working with substance use and addictions, and they would have the tools and the accountability that you are looking for to change your substance use. If you are worried about cost, I would definitely recommend calling your insurance provider since often they have a list of providers in their network that can provide treatment at an affordable cost. This is also up to how ready you are to begin this process / how urgent do you feel that you need to treat this behavior. We all have our own timing and only you know when it is best to begin this process yourself :)   The last and final step in overcoming the shame of addiction is to forgive yourself. Choose to forgive yourself for every wrong step you took that led you into your addiction and kept you in it. Most likely, you were doing the very best you could with the knowledge and tools you had at the time.   Jono
(MSW, LICSW, LMHC)
Answered on 01/20/2022

How can you be intimate with your husband when they keep hurting you?

I'm so sorry to hear that you're going through all of that; that must be a daily struggle for you. I can't even imagine what it must be like--especially after 15 years together--to have to feel like you have to hold the family together like that when your husband isn't willing to put forth the same effort. Often in families where one partner has a problem with alcohol use or another addiction, it is very common for other family members to feel as though they have to make excuses for the person's behaviors, might feel responsible for the person's behaviors, or might even feel immense guilt and shame because of the person's behaviors--when those feelings really belong to the substance user.    If your husband is truly unwilling to make changes, it might definitely be worth your while to consider what the next 15 years might look like if you choose to remain in the situation with him. Although I am certain you care for him and probably even still feel love for him, can your own emotional health tolerate another 15 years of the same behaviors? If not, it might be worth thinking about an exit plan--both for your own sake, as well as for the sake of the children.    It might also be of benefit to you to consider getting involved in Al-Anon or Codependents Anonymous. These are 12-step organizations with peer support groups (these are not psychotherapy/counseling groups), who can give you the additional needed emotional support while you are trying to figure this situation out and the long-term ramifications it may have for both you and your children. Al-Anon has information on it's website to help you better understand how it can help (https://al-anon.org/newcomers/how-can-i-help-my/alcoholic-spouse-or-partner/), as does Codependents Anonymous (https://coda.org/meeting-materials/patterns-and-characteristics-2011/). Both organizations offer meetings in person, as well as online and via telephone.   It might also be worth considering what attracted you to your husband in this first place. Often, individuals who tolerate these sorts of behaviors can have difficulty meeting their own emotional needs and end up attracted to others, who they perceive need their help or assistance in some way--definitely something, with which a competent psychotherapist can help you to explore.   Whatever you decide to ultimately do, I sincerely hope that you will consider how continuing to tolerate these sorts of behaviors will ultimately impact you and your children and that you will make yourself a priority--even if your husband chooses not to do so. Wishing you all the very best.
(MS, LPC-S, NCC)
Answered on 01/20/2022

I believe I need help with not blaming myself and being shameful

Hi, there. Thanks for reaching out to us at Better Help. My name is Stacey Shine and I am a Licensed Professional Counselor. I read over your question and am hopeful I can help. I worked specifically with the addiction population for several years. It sounds like you have given your son all the resources he needs to be successful in his recovery. I wish it was as easy as handing out the tools he will need. Unfortunately, addiction is very complicated. Many people view addiction as a disease and one that takes constant care to manage but there is no magic medication that can make it go away. Your son has to make that choice to become clean and live a sober lifestyle on his own. Recovery comes for people at all different times and it may be that he has not reached his "rock bottom" just yet. Addiction requites a lot of discipline and focus to manage. There are programs such as AA that work for a large number of people who are trying to manage addiction. Typically, these programs are successful due to how easily you can work the steps, it encourages a community environment. Your son may not be at that place where he is ready for all of those things. I think it is important for you to not beat yourself up as a parent for anything that you have done. He is making a choice to choose substances. Often times, those is recovery talk about their family members enabling them by making it easy to stay in that lifestyle even if hidden well. I think you making the choice to cut off finances and other things may be the step needed for him to realize the path he is on. It may not be tomorrow but eventually, that decision may be one that is life saving.  I know that being a parent of someone struggling with addiction is something that can overrtake you. I would suggest surrounding yourself with a support system and be honest with them about your struggles. Model the thing that he needs most which is to accept help from others. I hope that this was helpful. Best of luck to you and your son.
(MS, LPC)
Answered on 01/20/2022

Why is it that amputees tend to isolate themselves and drink to find a little happiness?

Hello, and thank you for writing. I am certainly hearing that you have been through a lot, and I am glad that you reached out. To address your first question, I can't speak for amputees in general, but it definitely sounds like you see your own isolation and drinking as a way of finding some happiness. I also see that you describe yourself as an alcoholic, so I am wondering if you always view your drinking positively. I think anyone who is experiencing pain, be it emotional or physical, looks for ways to help themselves feel better. I also think that sometimes, the solutions we find become less helpful over time, or have unanticipated consequences. I am curious about your perspective. I hear you say that you think of yourself as normal for you rather than normal for others. You also say that you like your life as it is. It may be that you have found a system which completely works for you and fully meets your needs, which would be great! I also know that if we sit in it long enough, a bad situation becomes what feels normal, and sometimes even what feels safe. I find myself wondering if there are any ways in which your isolationist lifestyle doesn't totally work for you, or if there are things you sometimes feel are missing. I am hearing quite a bit of tension between you and your family in what you describe. It sounds like at times it matters to you what they think of you, while at other times, you may brush it off. You mention that they see you as worthless, and I am wondering how you perceive your own worth.  The kinds of experiences you allude to have a tendency to leave their marks, and I am getting the impression that you are in touch with that. It can be helpful to talk through these things with someone who can listen without judgment and assist you in considering your full range of options for dealing with them. If you're open to it, I'd love the opportunity to hear more of your thoughts. Either way, I wish you good luck.   Warmly,   Kate
(MA, LPC)
Answered on 01/20/2022

I can’t afford this. Need help with alcoholism.

Hello,   I commend you in wanting to recover from alcoholism. Thanks for reaching out with your question. It is not easy admitting we need help, and you are showing courage in reaching our for help. I am sorry to hear that you are unemployed. You are right that coping skills and managing stress and anxiety helps to reduce the need for alcohol to remedy problems. Have you tried reaching out to an Alcohol Anonymous support group or engaging in one or two sessions to help establish some goals to work on? Thanks for reaching our with your question. Alcohol Anonymous groups are locally in most areas and are great supportive groups. These groups are also important because you will be among those who understand your struggles and can offer hope in difficult times. The sponsor system is essential and provides a guide to help during the challenges of recovery. Some important things to remember is that changing people, places, and things will be so key. This is important because people, places, or things may trigger old habits that may lead to posssibly drinking. This is especially true about environments also.  One significant part of recovery is family support. Have you informed family members that you are trying to stop driking and are interested in professional help. Resarch supports that family involvment in recovery increases chances of sobriety. Who in your family is an asset to your sobriety and are willing to help you and attend family groups that help family members understand alcohol addiction. Have you tried stop drinking in the past? What was helpful? What do you think was a challenge and how are you preparing to overcome these challenges this time around?  Recovery is a large task to navigate on your own. Counseling services can help you establish goals and work on other areas that you may feel have been impacted by your history of drinking.   I hope this summary is helpful, and again I commend you for stepping out on your journey of recovery. Have faith in yourself, and believe that you can have recovery. Take care, stay safe, and be well!   Meridith Graham, LISW-CP
(MSW, LISW-CP, CCTP)
Answered on 01/20/2022