Drugs 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 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

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

Can't I control myself after I hardly make a decision to quit smoking marijuana suddenly tommorow?

Dear Rocky,   Thank you for your message and sharing. It seems that the smoking 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 are 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

What alternative methods are available with counselling eg CBT

Thank you for reaching out to better help for assistance. I look forward to assisting you. Sounds like you would like to learn of alternative methods with counseling for your issues. Sounds like you have been a cocaine addict for around three years and you have worked through a 12 step program. Sounds like you have been diagnosed with depression and prescribed some medication. You state you also had one on one personal counseling.  Sounds like the counseling pinpointed some childhood trauma such as you losing your mother at a young age.  You state you want to know if you have a personality disorder.  Are you still in counseling and taking your medication? Do you find the twelve-step program helpful?  Addictions are very hard to stop by you can do it. You really have to want to stop. Do you sound like you are still using cocaine?  How often do you use cocaine?  You really shouldn't use cocaine and take the medication. The medication really won't work if you are abusing drugs and alcohol. You should talk with your doctor about this. The cocaine just washes away all the good benefits of the medication. In fact, it could make your anxiety worse. I would suggest you apply some Cognitive behavioral therapy/ CBT and the ABC Method. Cognitive-behavioral therapy challenges your thoughts and beliefs to get the best outcome for yourself. The ABC Model is a skill within this therapy. A= the activating event, B= your thoughts and beliefs, and C= the outcome or consequence. When you use and abuse cocaine this would be your activating event. B would be your thoughts and beliefs about using. Most times people are impulsive and just don't think but do and use. They think I want to feel better and I need the drug and I want the drug. The C or outcome would be how you feel after using the cocaine?  Do you feel regret or shame or bad that you used but can't stop? This is why you want to challenge your B or thoughts about using cocaine. Do you want to slow down a bit and think is using cocaine the right or wrong thing for me to do?  Will using cocaine help or hurt me in the long run? Then you need to divert your thoughts and activities to something else. Go for a walk, talk with a friend, call someone with the twelve-step program, talk with your counselor, watch tv, exercise. After about an hour you should not feel like you want to use the cocaine. You have to keep challenging your thoughts and beliefs to change your habit. You will get there. After about a month you should notice a big decrease in the craving. You want to take it one day at a time. Don't look at the whole month and get discouraged. Take baby steps and one day at a time. Be proud of yourself for not using each day. If you do use it, get back up, learn from it, and don't use it the next day. Keep this up for about a month and you should notice a change. I appreciate your reaching out to better help for assistance and I hope this helped you some. I wish you the best and look forward to hearing from you. 
(LPC, NCC, MS)
Answered on 01/20/2022

How can I be back to normal again?

Hello Kik, Thank you so much for your question. I just want to let you know that you are not alone and that there is help to get back on track with the life that you want to be living. I thank you for your vulnerability in asking for help. You have already made a good first step; because acknowledging the problem and seeking help is a great place to be when it comes to recovery. I want to let you know that it is actually quite common for members of the LGBTQ+ community to face a number of challenges, and those challenges often contribute to a higher rate of addiction. In fact, the LGBTQ+ community suffers from higher rates of substance abuse than the population as a whole. This is due in part to a number of societally imposed obstacles that have to be faced on a daily basis. These obstacles are simply ones that those who identify as heterosexual typically do not have to endure. A few of these challenges include, and may hit home for you: Discrimination or stigmatization based on sexual orientation, hate crimes,  emotional abuse, threats, public humiliation or ridicule, rejection or shame from family or friends after coming out, loss of employment or not receiving promotions, and internalized homophobia or self-hatred. I am so sorry if you have had to endure any of those things. It was not right and is NOT your fault. I know the above facts might seem overwhelming, but I hope they help you to alleviate any sense of shame you may have. Coping with stress by using substances is quite common, but there are other ways! I encourage you to seek professional help, including detox depending on what substances you are using. I know you may be hesitant to get help, feeling like there is a lack of resources available to you that address your individual need, but there are various treatment programs that focus on the isolation that members of the LGBTQ+ community often experience who can also address the substance abuse concerns. BetterHelp is a great place to start when looking for a counselor to address your concerns. Many counselors here on BetterHelp are quite comfortable working with both LGBTQ+ and substance abuse. Do not go this alone – there is help! I wish you well; thank you again for reaching out.
(MSW, LCSW, CADC)
Answered on 01/20/2022

Can someone call me

Claire, Cocaine can often cause irrational paranoia and sometimes delusional behaviors.  Of course, it is NOT your fault that he is abusing substances and you are in no way responsible for his bizarre behaviors. Substance abuse is a rampant problem in our society as you are aware. Few, have not been affected by a family member, friend, or coworker that has had a drug problem. Although frightening and potentially dangerous, there are many who have recovered.  There are over 14,000 active Al-Anon groups (recovery groups for users) holding multiple meetings in the US and an estimated 22 million Americans are in recovery from some form of opioid addiction. First, I strongly suggest you become educated and aware of the signs, symptoms, and potential risk of drug abuse. You will find much information just by doing a google search. It is not uncommon for a substance abuser to go undetected for even long periods of time.  We often just can not imagine our partner doing something illegal and dangerous.  Secondly, seek out a support group.  Due to COVID, many groups have turned to online meetings so it should be convenient for you to connect with others while in your own home.  Al-Anon Family Groups, Nar-Anon Family Groups, and Families Anonymous are a few programs that are based on the twelve-step program of Alcoholics Anonymous.  ProjectKnow.com has a lot of good resources as well. Hearing the stories of others and telling your own can be a source of great comfort. Thirdly, take care of yourself.  You may want to begin your own individual therapy.  A "betrayal" such as his can create emotional distress, anger, lack of trust, and anxiety.  It could easily put your marriage at risk.  I encourage you to take this step at your earliest convenience and before making any big decisions. In summary, educate yourself on the abuse of cocaine and other narcotics.  Know the signs and symptoms and how you can help him seek treatment and/or some form of help.  Find others who have gone or are going through similar problems with a loved one.  You are not alone.  Finally but NOT least importantly, take care of yourself.  Your well-being is vital to your health and that of your family.  Don't let his behavior negatively impact you more than it already has.  This is a hurt from which you will need time and support to recover.
(MEd, LPC)
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

how do i stay clean

Hello Roo, I am glad you reached out for support at this time.  I am sorry you are struggling in this moment.  I would encourage you to start to work with a therapist to help you learn skills to help you overcome your struggles.  If we were to meet I would first talk to you about the counseling process through our site and how together we could help you obtain your goals going forward, how I work as a counselor and how I would try to help you through the counseling process.  I would also take the first session to get to know you by asking you a few questions to get a better understanding of your struggles, so that I am able to focus on a plan and goals to work on going forward. I want you to know that you are not alone during this time even through you may feel like you are alone at this time.  During the therapy process you can have support 100% of the time as you are able to reach out and talk to a therapist 24 hours a day 7 days a week.   A few of the questions I would ask would include the following:Can you tell me more about your past history?I am going to send you some skills and tools to help you during this time of struggle you are having.  If we were to work together we would be going over these and more tools to help you through our struggles and be able to ask for support from others. About Codependendency and Recovery from Addictions: Addictions and Codependency are family and relationship issues as well as a primary illness for the addict.  Modern treatment methods address the entire family and relationship structure. Ironically, codependency isn't about other people - it's about the relationship with the self.  Codependents often believe that if the addict in their life sobered up their problems would go away. Countless addict / alcoholics find their relationships end or change radically when they get clean and sober. The family / relationship dynamic was predicated on the addict being "the sick one." As the addict gets well they may find their partners and family members have no idea how to adjust to the changes.Enabling codependents may subvert the addict's recovery so the unhealthy relationship dynamics can be preserved. Addicted codependents who hid behind another's more dramatic problem may leave the relationship rather than give up their own using. Addicted codependents often progress in their own addictions more rapidly when their partner enters recovery. (Since the change in the relationship is stressful.)Codependents in denial cannot adjust to the relationship changes that occur when their partner begins recovery. They may move on to other addictive relationships so they can cling to their own dysfunctional patterns.  (The controlling codependent is often lost without someone to blame, fix and control.)  How many times have you heard of people who leave one alcoholic only to enter a relationship with another one? All people involved in the addictive cycle need a solid recovery program if relationships are to be preserved and they are to lead happy, fulfilling lives.  Codependency Recovery:Recovery from Codependency is deep work based on shifting our relationship with ourselves. We may have to let go If the people in our lives are unwilling to work through their issues.  "Firing" the people we were codependent with may be a part of that, but remember - codependency is about us, not them!  Recovery from codependency involves learning to take responsibility for our own actions, feelings behavior, issues and lives.Codependents have as much difficulty accepting their powerlessness over people and events as alcoholics / addicts have regarding their powerlessness over their drug of choice. (Many treatment modalities approach codependency as an addiction to control and / or caretaking.)   Ongoing therapy and a twelve step program (CODA meetings) are highly advised. Melody Beattie's Codependent No More is recommended reading, as is her book The Language of Letting Go.  Letting go of the need to control people, places and events is difficult, but will ultimately set us free of our self-defeating patterns, shame and fear. The investment in caretaking / control take a lot of our energy - letting that go frees our energy for more productive uses. I hope that these skills have been helpful for you in your struggles you have been facing at this time. I am going to give you my information if you are wanting to start to process through and work on your struggles going forward, please reach out to Betterhelp and ask to be matched with Crystal Westman. If we were to work together we would work on more skills and tools to help you when you are struggling and get back to a positive space.  I encourage you to reach out for support at this time to help you get to the best version of yourself.
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

Am I’m doomed?

First things first Drax!  No, you are not doomed!  There is an amazing part of you that is trying to fight which is evidenced by your willingness to continue to get up every day and push forward.  In spite, of your challenges, you are managing to go to work and do what is necessary to take care of yourself.     Even reaching out and asking for help is another indicator that you are trying to survive your emotions.  However is sounds like your resiliency is starting to fade.  Opioid addiction is challenging and depending upon your length of time using; it is not advised to quit on your own; if you choose to do so.  Addictions can cause the body to feel as though; you can't live with it and you can't live without it!  It is obvious that you have challenges that go back past the addiction.  Perhaps it is time to look back to the origin of your challenges.  Before the drugs.  There is hope if you are willing to do the work necessary to get on the other side of addiction.  Working with a counselor, and perhaps a safe support group may lead you on the road to the desired outcome.      Also, this has been a very difficult time in the world.  The pandemic has been devasting for the majority of people due to the uncertainty and being locked in place for an indefinite period.  Trying to find ways and means of entertaining yourself by yourself has been a challenge.  The inability to do simple things and go places has been ridiculously hard.  Once again, you have tried your best to deal with this as well.  It sounds as if you have had enough and your resiliency is fading.   With support, you can realize a future filled with hope.  It may sound difficult to believe.  However, if you can envision being lost in the woods at night, and a helicopter appears with a spotlight.  You follow the light and it leads you out of the woods. That is what counseling is all about.    I am Angelie Greene, a licensed therapist. You can read more about my background, education, experience, and counseling approach by clicking on my name on this page.     
(MA, LPC)
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 do I cope with my life

Good morning Katie, and thank you for taking the time to reach out for help and support with regards to the issues you mentioned in your questions. You have certainly experienced a significant amount of traumatic events in your life, and if any of them are continuing (i.e. your children continue to "blame you" for their dad being in prison), with only continues to the negative impact of the trauma on your life while adding in additional trauma and devaluation, a distressing experience to say the least.    The answer to your question is not so simple, but i will certainly do my best to provide you with some clarification and resources that will help you to hopefully better understand your experience and how to work through and potentially resolve the distressing symptoms and experiences you are having. As is usually the case in circumstances pertaining to childhood and adult emotional neglect and abuse, as well as the additional traumas, psychotherapy in combination with medication are often the best and most efficient treatments. However, depending on the severity of one's experience and symptoms, there are absolutely other means of recovering from distress and one can certainly try any of them and should they not prove to be effective, utilizing additional and/or different resources would be the healthiest way of proceeding along your journey of recovery towards a happy, healthy, and joyous life experience. With that being said, as for the symptoms you identified, most, if not all of them, can be attributed to Anxiety. Anxiety is also a common outcome as a result of traumatic experiences and "threats" to one's self, either physically or psychologically. Anxiety can have a paralyzing effect on a person, resulting in the additional experiences you identified such as having difficulty asking for help and making decisions as a result of "fear" of being perceived as "weak" or "vulnerable," as well as a lack of confidence in one's ability to make decisions and have positive outcomes occur from said decisions. This "fear" can often present as isolation and withdrawal from relationships, making it even more lonely and distressing for you in your life and thus exacerbating the negative symptoms you may be experiencing. As for wanting to more effectively cope with your life, the following are some very good resources to start with. However, I must say that I would highly encourage you to have a supportive person identified whom you can turn to for support should the workbook begin to have you address things or if you start to experience things as a result of the workbook's guidance that becomes overwhelming and distressing for you. -The PTSD Workbook: Simple, Effective Techniques for Overcoming Traumatic Stress Symptoms Workbook Third Edition by Mary Beth Williams (Author), Soili Poijula (Author) *In the third edition of The PTSD Workbook, psychologists and trauma experts Mary Beth Williams and Soili Poijula offer readers the most effective tools available for overcoming post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). -Complex PTSD Workbook: A Mind-Body Approach To Regaining Emotional Control And Becoming Whole by Arielle Schwartz -The Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Workbook for PTSD (A New Harbinger Self-Help Workbook)by Kirby Reutter -The Cognitive Behavioral Coping Skills Workbook for PTSD: Overcome Fear and Anxiety and Reclaim Your Life (A New Harbinger Self-Help Workbook) by Matthew T Tull PhD (Author), Kim L. Gratz PhD (Author), Alexander L. Chapman PhD RPsych (Author) Above all else, for any general state of "well-being" and certainly to aide in your journey,   I will also share with you some very important information on self-care: Self-care means taking time to do things you enjoy for the sake of improving one's life experience and overall mental health and resilience. Usually, self-care involves everyday activities that you find relaxing, fun, or energizing. These activities could be as simple as reading a book, or as big as taking a vacation. Self-care also means taking care of yourself. This means eating regular meals, getting enough sleep, caring for personal hygiene, and anything else that maintains good health. Make self-care a priority. There will always be other things to do, but don't let these interrupt the time you set aside for self-care. Self-care should be given the same importance as other responsibilities. Set specific self-care goals. It's difficult to follow through with vague goals, such as "I will take more time for self-care". Instead, try something specific, such as "I will walk for 30 minutes every evening after dinner". Make self-care a habit. Just like eating one apple doesn't eliminate health problems, using self-care just once won't have much effect on reducing stress. Choose activities that you can do often, and that you will stick with. Set boundaries to protect your self-care. You don't need a major obligation to say "no" to others— your self-care is reason enough. Remind yourself that your needs are as important as anyone else's. A few minutes of self-care is better than no self-care. Set an alarm reminding you to take regular breaks, even if it's just a walk around the block, or an uninterrupted snack. Oftentimes, stepping away will energize you to work more efficiently when you return. Unhealthy activities don't count as self-care. Substance use, over-eating, and other unhealthy behaviors might hide uncomfortable emotions temporarily, but they cause more problems in the long run. Abstinence from any addictive substance (i.e. illicit drugs, alcohol, even nicotine and caffeine) is highly recommended during the recovery process and for a healthier life overall. Keep up with self-care, even when you're feeling good. Doing so will keep you in a healthy routine. Plus, self-care might be part of the reason why you're feeling good! I wish you all the best in your journey of recovery and please don't hesitate to reach out to me should you desire any further information, resources, or support.   And finally, the most important part in healing from any form of traumatic experience is to maintain, for as often as possible, a sense of safety. For trauma survivors, feeling safe is very important. Most of us have experienced moments when we were not safe emotionally or physically. We may be constantly thinking there is a danger that could occur just around the corner. We may be fearful of trusting others. To live healthy lives, we must be able to work through trauma, ideally in therapy, to establish safety in a healing way. We must take back the power from the situations that have harmed us.
(LMHC, MCAP, TIRF)
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

What’s the cost per meeting? I don’t have insurance.

Please contact better help at contact@betterhelp.com to discuss the cost of the sessions. I cannot speak intelligently on that, but I can on counseling.  Many times when substance use/abuse is involved those are the symptoms of bigger issues. Desiring to stop drinking is definitely a good start but the question that I would purpose is are you willing to explore the issues that you have likely buried that can be the cause of your drinking and previous drug use. When I purpose this question to many clients the response many times is "I had a good childhood," and though that may be true using has been linked as an attempt to bury feelings or trauma. It's not about what happened, but how you felt about what happened. If you aren't willing to explore that then your use if you are able to stop will likely move to another drug or addictive behavior.  It's not surprising that you were using drugs and now you're drinking, addiction for each of those is carried the same part of the brain. Education on how the brain works regarding addiction, identifying triggers, minimizing anxiety, exploring depression or any other issue is necessary now. If I were to provide you with the cliff notes of what's happening in your life it would likely be, by not facing an issue or feeling early this is the issue. Drinking and drugs were likely not a deliberate decision, but after the first time and the feeling that you experienced and how it allowed you to either forget about what your life was like or provided a moment of excape it triggered something in the brain that pulled you back each time after that.  What happens now? What's needed at this point is self-honesty. You being truthful with yourself, being truthful with your counselor and being truthful with how you're feeling with either your inability to cope with Iife as it is or your desire to muster through with the perception that nothing is wrong. This does not give you the okay to completely dismantle, that may not be ideal or beneficiary, however unwrapping is necessary for complete healing.  Take a moment before you begin counseling, ask yourself, are you willing to explore and discuss the deepest issue of you? Are you willing to face issues that you haven't mentioned to anyone or talked about in years? And are you ready to hear what needs to be said about how you've made decisions that weren't ideal for your health and well being, and how you can move from that space.  Lastly, keep in mind that if alcohol use is severe detoxing alone can be dangerous. It may be necessary to have medical intervention. Go visit your doctor and discuss in detail where you are and what you desire to do. Your doctor can direct you through detoxing safely and then revisit counseling to maintain your sobriety. You can also go to the emergency room and seek assistance. If drinking is severe a thirty day program may be needed. You and a medical staff would have to determine this; Finally, AA is a tool that I would encourage you to use, not instead of counseling but along with counseling. AA allows you to connect with others that are like you, and that level of connectedness many times cannot be reached theraputicly. It can also provide you with resources that may be beneficial for your walk, you will have someone there in every level of addiction, and each of them is on the same path as you, desiring to change their trajectory. Someone form AA can maybe provide you with resources on how to detox if money is an issue, or if you dont' have a primary doctor.  I wish you the best and send positive energy your way to help guide you through this time in your life.  I would love to work with you, but if that isn't ideal for you I would encourage you to work with someone, you are on a path that many don't enter, the path to sobriety, stay deliberate, stay consistent and stay willing. Each of those are necessary for complete health, be intentional. 
(LPC)
Answered on 01/20/2022

How do I process the fact that my younger brother (19) has a heroin addiction?

I am not sure I agree with you stepping away from your family.  However, I would encourage you to set personal boundaries.  This appears to be an unstable situation for all involved.  First attempt to ensure all are safe (especially your sister).  It sounds like your dad is an enabler and this is not healthy.  I would encourage you to reach out to your mom and sister and to get help to keep her safe.  Your brother is in an addiction that requires intensive inpatient treatment before he further destroys himself and others around him.  Here is a little information I hoping will give some insight.  Dr. Bearlyn Ash Family Roles In Addiction Knowing that someone you love and care about is struggling with substance abuse can be challenging to handle. It can be natural to want to find a way to help them through recovery. But it’s also natural to feel a lot of other feelings around the addiction. For example, you may feel sad watching your loved one make poor decisions that are negatively impacting them. Or, you may feel angry that they continue to struggle with substance abuse without caring about the impact that it’s having on the entire family. And, you may be embarrassed about what others will think of your family if they find out about the addiction. These different feelings can lead people to take on different family roles to try dealing with substance abuse. The Caregiver/Enabler The person that fills the caregiver or enabler role is the one that works to keep addicted family members from suffering consequences for their behavior. According to the American psychological association, an enabler allows the person’s addiction to continue. They can see that there is a problem, but they don’t know how to stop it. While it may look like the enabler is doing it for their loved ones, it can also be a selfish behavior. For example, they may be embarrassed for other people to find out there is a struggle with substance abuse. So, instead of allowing their addicted loved one to fail or suffer their consequences, they make excuses for them to hide the addiction. It’s also possible for someone to enable a family member to protect them. For example, it might be difficult for a mother to watch a child suffer because of their decisions and actions. This can cause the mother to try to do whatever she can to stop her child from experiencing their natural consequences. She may even worry that the negative consequences could cause additional problems, so she tries to put an end to it. The enabler may believe that they are helping their loved one but usually does the exact opposite. When someone struggling with addiction doesn’t see and experience their consequences, it can make it easy for them to believe their actions aren’t as big of a problem as they really are. The Hero The family members that play the hero are working to the right the wrongs that substance abuse has caused in the family. They tend to be high achieving individuals that have high standards for themselves and their life. If the hero is a child and the person struggling with substance abuse is their parent, the child may be out to disprove what others think they will be capable of. And, like the enabler, the hero may be trying to help the addict look good to others. However, while the hero typically ends up being successful, their behavior doesn’t come with its own risks. They can end up struggling with their own emotions and challenging situations. Their quest to make things appear perfect can cause them to struggle when life brings challenges. And, they may end up feeling overwhelmed because they take on a lot of responsibility. The Scapegoat The scapegoat is the person in the family that’s creating other problems that distract others away from the individual struggling with substance abuse. While they may be effective at taking the attention off the other individual, they create new issues for themselves. Scapegoat behaviors can be anything from getting poor grades in school, not being able to hold a job, or even having their own substance abuse problem. The Mascot Mascots are the comedians of the family. They use humor to help break up the tension that’s created by substance abuse and addiction. Just like the scapegoat uses negative behavior to draw attention away from the real problem, the mascot does the same thing, only using humor. When a situation is dangerous, they may make jokes or act silly to lighten the mood. The Lost Child While other family members actively play their role in trying to deal with the behavior of the family member struggling with substance abuse, the lost child is quiet. They tend to be thought of as “good” because they stay in the background and don’t add to the problem. Instead of looking for a way to help distract from the behavior, like the other family roles, the lost child withdraws. This could include spending time alone in a different room or merely staying quiet when everyone else is chiming in on a subject. Their behavior may be appreciated by other family members because it doesn’t appear to add to the problem. And, it’s possible that family members don’t notice their behavior at all because of the other issues going on. But just because the lost child remains in the background and doesn’t demand attention does not mean that all is well. Their behavior can help keep them out of stressful family situations. But it can also cause them to suffer quietly because they won’t speak up when they need something.     How Family Can Help With Substance Abuse Challenges If you have a family member struggling with substance abuse, it can be helpful to understand the family roles above. Being aware of the different roles can help you to see which role you may be falling into and what things to watch out for. With that in mind, there are some things you can try to help your loved one: Get Educated About Addiction: There are lots of resources you can find online to help you learn more about addiction and substance abuse. This can help you to gain a better understanding of how addiction happens and that it’s not merely a choice your loved one is making. Try Family Therapy: Individual therapy sessions can be helpful for the family member that’s struggling with addiction. But it can also be helpful for the family to attend therapy together. This can allow all members of the family to be supported throughout the process of recovery. Focus On Your Own Mental Health: When someone your love is struggling with addiction, it can be easy to prioritize their health over your own. However, it tends to be harder to deal with stressful situations when you’re tired and burnt out. Focus on getting enough sleep, working some exercise into the day, and making healthy food choices. Also, take time to do things that you enjoy doing so you can refresh yourself. Don’t Make Excuses For Them: Your natural inclination may be to cover for the mistakes of your family member but resist the urge to do that. Allowing them to suffer from the consequences of their substance use can sometimes help them to start to see the impact it’s having on themselves and their loved ones. This can be some of the motivation they need to begin to want to change. Set Boundaries: You may also find it helpful to set clear expectations with your family member about the behavior you find acceptable. It can help your family member know where your boundaries are. And, it can help remove the guilt that you may feel by protecting yourself.  
(EdD, NCC, LPC)
Answered on 01/20/2022

I’ve had counselors before that have tried helping me with an addition problem.

Thank you for seeking help, it is certainly a huge step and you are to be commended.  Having said that you are "addicted" to a substance for 10 years is another big step in acknowledgement.  There are times when one has been in active addiction for this amount of time that they seek Substance Use support (active) prior to starting therapy.   I want to give you some information on Prochaska and DiClemente's (1983) Stages of Change Model. This information was compiled from an internet source, which has a wealth of information.  It is said that as individuals make a decision about their recovery, they will work within these stages.  Perhaps, you may be able to see yourself within one of these stages.   This model describes five stages that people go through on their way to change: precontemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, and maintenance.   The Stages of Change Model assumes specific tasks occur to move through the change process.  It is said that there is another stage in the process, “relapse (recycling or slipping.”)  Within this stage, the individual may revert to old behaviors, such as smoking marijuana after having quit.  This is thought to be a normal process in recovery.  It may be possible that these individuals tried changing their behaviors in the past but were unsuccessful. Maybe the change didn't work or didn't stick in the past, these persons now see change as unrealistic or impossible and therefore not worth pursuing.   The first stage is called Precontemplation.  Those in the Precontemplation Stage do not see their behaviors as a problem and therefore see no need to change. This is sometimes called the "ignorance is bliss" stage. Those at this stage may talk about recovery as a general rule but not actually interested in obtaining the support at this time.   The second stage is called Contemplation. In this stage, individuals recognize a problem and are contemplating a change, but haven't yet committed to changing.  As an example, you want to lose weight and have looked into joining a gym but haven't yet signed up. Those in contemplation are said to be sitting on the fence – part of them wants to change, but an equally compelling part of them wants to stay the same. When you are sitting on the fence, we say you are ambivalent about change.   The third stage is called Preparation. In this stage, individuals have decided to change their dysfunctional behaviors within a month. Those in preparation have taken little steps towards changing their behavior – they are "testing the waters."   The fourth stage is called Action. In this stage, individuals have changed their dysfunctional behavior at least one day and no more than 180 days. Those in the action phase have put into practice the plan developed in the preparation phase.   The fifth stage is called Maintenance. In this stage, individuals have been engaged in the new behavior for at least six months and are committed to maintaining the new behavior. Hope this help.  To your journey.
(MSW, LCSW, LISW, CP)
Answered on 01/20/2022

Please help me turn my life around

You have reached out and that is a very good thing which credits you with courage and integrity. Because you have made the decision to seek help things are turning around for you and starting now your recovery and life begins anew. Feeling lonely is a very human experience that we all must deal with and we do so by attempting to make connections with not only other people, but substances like drugs and alcohol. Whatever the reasons we tell ourselves are the causes of our continued use of drugs and alcohol the real reasons begin to loose their significance as the reality of addiction takes its hold on us. There comes a point when we realize that we are no longer using the drugs and alcohol, but now it is controlling us and we have lost the will and ability to stop using on our own. The substances we once relied upon to help us cope become the controlling issue that now controls us. In the world of Recovery where the 12 Steps are used the very first step is essential. It is the recognition that we are not in control anymore and it’s the drugs and/or alcohol that is in control. We then find ourselves in a life or death struggle where the addiction takes on a life of its own it seems and it will use every emotional, psychological, physical and spiritual trick it can to keep itself alive and thriving. The good news is we are not in this war alone. Millions have gone before us and are presently enjoying sober, sane and serene living. It was and remains to be an everyday struggle where we must choose everyday a life of complete honesty and surrender. It is not easy. But the alternative is death. To choose life and to choose sobriety and sanity is done not on our own. On our own we stay using and stay a drunk. For sobriety and sanity to be gained we will need to not only reach out once, but begins to live in a reality of reaching out and being helped and in ourselves helping others in this journey. It can and is done! Without sobriety and sanity we are doomed to live a life of desperation and all the human ills that come along with the addicted life like shame, guilt, regret and resentment will be our daily lot. When you are ready to admit you are powerless over the addictions and need help in order to live forward then help is here and always ready to begin with you. It will not be easy. The real things of life never are, but it will be life and the worth of life Iglesia without saying. So right now, today, you decide. Will it be death, which is a certainty with addictions, or will it be life at whatever the cost?
Answered on 01/20/2022

How can I begin to trust myself? My instincts, my gut feeling, etc.

Hi Sasa, I'm so sorry to hear about the sexual assault that you suffered, and for another second time in March. A traumatic incident like that ... can really make a negative impression in a lot of areas in your personality and your life. If you haven't processed this traumatic incident, it's normal that you are experiencing anxiety and depression. However, I would like to know if you have always felt anxious and depressed...or if you started to feel this way after the sexual assault. Usually if you are anxious, then you will be depressed, that's how it goes, why? because if I have been feeling so anxious for a long time, I may start feeling like.... this is too much.... I'm tired of feeling this way, thus, the depression shows up, the go hand in hand. The fact that you lose interest in doing activities that at first you felt excited about them...it may be because of the depression that you are experiencing. There's nothing wrong if you put yourself first, I need to take care of myself first, in order for me to be able to see for other people. I wonder... what makes you think that you may let people down...I wonder if this your own perception, ...or maybe you would like to analyze the expectations that people have for you and vice versa. When you are saying: "I tend to overthink everything" this is part of the symptoms of anxiety.... doubting about myself constantly.... but also, it maybe due to past trauma or the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder that you may be experiencing. Feeling insecure about yourself.... It may be because of the sexual assault... or I wonder when did you start feeling this way... "I sound uneducated or stupid whenever I say anything" .... it seems to me that this is your perception. I wonder if you have a history of having being bullied...? or if you had a stressful incident that made you feel this way.... If you were bullied at some point in your life, it's very common to feel insecure about yourself, feeling socially anxious, taking things personally, feeling on the spot, doubting yourself constantly, and also it can create anxiety and depression. The fact that you are now in college, you are concerned about yourself, you have plans for your life, makes me think that you are an interesting and fun person. Again... this might be because you had a difficult or painful experience that made you feel this way....? People have hurt you and made you believe it's your fault...I would like to know more about it. You have the right to experience your own emotions and feelings. You want to feel confident about allowing yourself to experience those emotions. so what to do now? Attend therapy, this would be a great idea. Focus on your own journey so that you can work on yourself. Sometimes, it's important to go back to some past chapters in our lives so that we can understand what we need to understand, clean our past so that the past doesn't keep coming back to the present and spoil the present. Sasa you deserve to be happy, live the life that you want and deserve, and see your dreams come true. Attending therapy can help you a lot. Give yourself the opportunity to be happy. I'm here for you, I can help you! we can work together :)
(PhD, LMHC, CHT, CST, CERTIFIED, EMDR.)
Answered on 01/20/2022