Substance abuse and addiction
Updated: Jul 6, 2022
I am a psychotherapist in private practice in Oakland, CA. I specialize in addiction and substance abuse (as well as trauma), and have a lived experience that informs my practice. Click here to read more about me. I meet my clients where they are at and I honor and respect their experience, wisdom, and goals. Click here to read how I work with clients.
Self-medicating, coping, escaping, numbing, addiction...these are some of the reasons we use or abuse alcohol and drugs (and food, work, people, sex, etc.). Some people can control their substance use, but many people cannot. Addiction is the desire to control our substance use, but not being able to. When we struggle to control our use and it makes our lives unmanageable, it might mean that we need help. Addiction is powerful and very hard to solve on our own. Admitting we have a problem and accepting help are the first steps to recovery. Help can be found in a variety of settings, such as therapy, moderation management/harm reduction, rehab, medication, and 12-step support groups. 12-step support groups, such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Al-Anon, CODA, Food Addicts Anonymous, Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous, are the most successful ways to recover from addiction. It can also be helpful to combine approaches, such as AA and therapy. However, it's important for folks to identify what works for them. 12-step groups have a spiritual foundation, though there are many meetings specifically for agnostic/atheist folks, and there is no requirement for membership besides the desire to stop drinking/using. But, it really is an individual choice. I have worked with clients who want help moderating and controlling their substance use, and I have worked with clients who want extra support with recovery and sobriety. I support clients with common feelings, such as shame. Admitting that we can't control our substance use is hard, and can even lead to more use, or increasing other behaviors, forming a viscous cycle. Self-compassion is important to practice, especially by learning about addiction as a disease and how cunning, baffling, and powerful it is.
Accepting help is an act of courage. Surrender to healing, recovery, and health. You deserve it. Don't forget, "progress, not perfection!"
If you are drinking (or using drugs) heavily, please seek medical support because suddenly stopping may cause withdrawals (shaking, sweating, headache, insomnia, anxiety, vomiting, etc.). Click here for resources.
Reach out to me by clicking here if you're interested in therapy and you'd like to book a 20-minute consultation.
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