SUBSTANCE USE ISSUES
My first experience in the field was at Prevention Point Pittsburgh, a needle exchange program. Over the years, I have done case management, group, and individual therapy for people dealing with substance abuse issues. I am passionate about providing trauma informed care to my clients that incorporates harm reduction! Harm reduction is a set of practical strategies that literally reduces the harm associated with different behaviors, like drug use- that can include safer use, managed use, or abstinence. Harm reduction creates an environment where you can openly discuss substance use without fear of judgment; I won't tell you to use or to stop using, because that will always be your choice.
There is no “one right way” to do recovery.
A standardized approach implies that everyone has faced the same challenges and barriers, and that everyone has the same needs. Treatment should be individualized! There are many options for treatment, such as IOP, inpatient treatment, long term programs, 12 step meetings, SMART Recovery meetings, Suboxone, methadone, individual therapy, acudetox, and more! For treatment to be successful, I feel that all the areas of a person's life must be addressed- such as physical and mental health, financial needs, and relationships- not JUST drug use. For one person, recovery may mean stopping all use. For another person, recovery may mean decreasing use or changing behaviors. Which leads us to the fact that. . .
Changing behaviors takes time.
Someone starts using as a choice. But once an addiction develops, the use is compulsive and not a choice. Due to abuse or trauma, using may be a survival technique. That is why a characteristic of addiction is continued use despite harm. It's not as simple as just quitting. There may be a physical dependence that could make it hazardous for you to just stop using or drinking. Even if you don't have an “addiction”, changing ANY kind of patterns takes time.
You don't have to hit rock bottom to change.
Part of my job is to help you look at the reasons why you use, and what purpose it has served. There may be many legitimate reasons for it! If someone uses because of anxiety, we can figure out some additional ways to cope with anxiety. I don't believe you have to lose everything to change. If the the negatives outweigh the positive benefits of using, we can work on making some changes that will improve your life.
Motivation looks different for everyone.
It doesn't matter what your motivation is! As long as there is some kind of motivation, even if it is just external, there is an opportunity for growth to happen. It's ok if you don't like the idea of changing your substance use, but have some reasons you need to. For some people staying out of jail is motivation, or keeping their job.
When someone relapses during or after treatment, you DO NOT have to “start over” in recovery.
You still possess tools and skills to deal with life, as well as the knowledge you maintained sobriety for some amount of time. Recovery is hard. It can feel like one step forward, 2 steps back. It is realistic that people may backslide or struggle due to different stressors and triggers. It is NOT a failure if you have to do treatment multiple times; it's actually normal. I'm here to walk beside you on that path.