Alcohol and Other Substances
People use alcohol and drugs for many reasons including peer pressure; curiosity; to improve performance; to relieve stress; to experience feelings of pleasure and avoid unpleasant thoughts or emotions. Sometimes people can develop an addiction to painkillers that were originally prescribed to manage pain.
Do I have a dependency?
An addiction or dependency occurs when a person continues using a substance even though it is resulting in problems in their behaviour, or unwanted consequences in their relationships, work, studies, social life or health. Some signs that you may be addicted to a substance includes:
• Cravings or strong urges to use the substance and unsuccessful attempts to reduce or control your use;
• You are having difficulty completing tasks at work, school or home you are spending less time on activities that used to be important;
• You are noticing some unwanted consequences of your alcohol or drug use yet you continue to use;
• You need larger amounts to get the same effect to feel “normal”;
• You are experiencing withdrawal symptoms such as sleeplessness, nausea or anxiety when you don’t use;
• You notice changes in your mood, emotions and motivation.
• You are hiding your using behaviour from family and friends.
Why is it so difficult to stop using alcohol and drugs even when I try?
Even when you want to stop using alcohol or drugs you may find that you are unable to stop despite trying very hard. This is because addiction is often a complex condition for a number of reasons including:
• Alcohol and drugs can result in changes in the brain that increase cravings as well as affect motivation, memory, judgment and decision making;
• People often feel ashamed or embarrassed that they have developed a dependency on alcohol or drugs and do not want to seek extra help;
• People fear they may not cope with life’s challenges without the substance.
How can counselling assist you in your journey of recovery?
Counselling can help you develop ways to cope with your alcohol and drug cravings as well as explore strategies to avoid a relapse.
If you’ve been using alcohol or drugs as a way of coping, counselling can help you explore some of the underlying reasons for your ongoing substance misuse as well as develop healthier ways of coping with unpleasant thoughts and emotions that you believe are too difficult to manage.
If you are experiencing any other mental health issue such as anxiety, depression or history of trauma then counselling can work with you to safely explore ways of managing your mental health.
In some cases depending on your use of substance, you may need to consult with your medical doctor regarding aspects of your recovery treatment. During your initial assessment, you will be notified if you will need to consult your medical practitioner as part of your recovery treatment.