By Lauren Presutti
People struggling with substance use or addiction sometimes think the only way to recover is to detox in a rehab facility or to completely abstain from substances altogether. Stories about how others have recovered, family pressures, or social influences can make you feel like everyone else is telling you what to do. You’re probably frustrated and annoyed that people are telling you WHAT to do without actually understanding the complex emotional, psychological, and physiological factors that make recovery extremely hard. We get it. You don’t want to be told what to do. You don’t want to be judged. You don’t want anyone’s unsolicited advice on how to stop using substances. Because if it were that easy, you probably wouldn’t be in this situation in the first place.
At River Oaks Psychology, we understand how difficult recovery is and we recognize that you may not be ready to make changes in your life. That’s okay. We will never pressure someone to do something they are not ready for. We don’t tell people what to do. We will never judge you nor make assumptions about your experiences. Perhaps most importantly, we won’t ask you to stop using substances. That has to be your decision. Our job is to listen to YOUR goals and then help you achieve them. This might involve learning how to build coping skills, process emotions, strengthen relationships, heal from trauma, discover personal strengths, boost your capacity for wellness, and enhance your sense of control. This means that therapy can still be helpful for you even if you have no immediate plans to stop using substances. We’ll talk about the role that substances play in your life, how you are coping currently, where you have been, and where you might want to go moving forward.
In other cases, we help people maintain their sobriety and avoid relapsing. The chronic nature of addiction means that a large percentage of people will relapse at some point during their lives. Do you have a strong understanding of what your triggers are? What are some warning signs that relationships may be negatively influencing you? How are you managing your trauma responses? Do you have a relapse prevention plan in place? Your life will continue to evolve and unfold in all different ways, with each chapter presenting new obstacles and new challenges in which temptations may resurface. Willpower can be a good thing, but preventing relapse requires more than just the willpower to say “no” when temptations surface. Working with a therapist will help you stay on track and propel you forward toward greater self-improvement in all areas of your life.
It’s also important to remember that nobody simply decides to have substance use problems. This was not your choice to be struggling with these behaviors and habits. There are likely many reasons why you fell into substance use in the first place, whether it was trauma, abuse, family conflicts, stress, peer pressures, or an event that triggered a turn towards a specific substance, including physical injuries that involved prescription medications. Therapy can help you address those issues and examine the underlying emotions that led you to use substances. Even more importantly, therapy can help you remove any sense of self-blame or guilt that you may be harboring. You deserve to forgive yourself. It’s time to allow yourself to get better.
Even if you’re not ready to pursue sobriety, it’s so important to check in with a trusted professional to talk about your overall mental health. Remember, we don’t judge people and we won’t lecture you. Having a safe space to be authentic can be particularly beneficial for those struggling with substance use because there is a lot of addiction-related stigmas in the world. It must be very painful if you have ever experienced social judgment for your substance use. You won’t experience that with us. We’ll compassionately listen to your story and empathize with what you’ve gone through. We’re on your side.