Substance use disorder

Substance Use: When is it a problem?

Using alcohol and drugs to cope with emotional stress is a common experience for many people. One question that I hear a lot from clients who are concerned about their drinking and/or drug use is “Is this normal? Do I have a problem?”. In this blog, I will briefly address key features that indicate there may be a substance use disorder that needs to be addressed.

It is important to begin by noting that any alcohol or drug use can cause harm to yourself, your loved ones, or your roles/responsibilities. However, there are specific criteria that an individual needs to meet to qualify for a substance use disorder. The four subcategories include impaired control, social impairment, risky use, and pharmacological criteria.

For individuals who find themselves drinking and/or using drugs regularly, they need to consider how this impacts their daily functioning.

Below are some questions to ask yourself about your substance use:

    • How much time to I spend drinking/using, getting alcohol and/or drugs, or getting over the effects of the substance?
    • How are my relationships impacted by drinking/using?
    • Have my social activities or occupational responsibilities been impacted? If so, how?
    • Do I find myself drinking/using more than I intended to or over a longer period than intended?
    • Do I need more alcohol and/or drugs to feel the same effect?
    • Do I experience withdrawal symptoms when I don’t drink/use?
    • Do I crave alcohol and/or drugs when I don’t have them?
    • Have others criticized my drinking or drug use?

If you find that your pattern of drinking and/or drug impacts multiple areas of life (i.e. parenting, relationships, work, social life, physical health, etc.). It may be time to reach out for support.

As a Licensed Alcohol & Drug Counselor, I worked for almost four years treating substance use disorders in an outpatient treatment setting. While I no longer directly treat substance use disorders, I value being a resource for clients who are concerned about their drinking and/or drug use. I work with my clients to establish an action plan for their unique situation and individualized goals. I also collaborate with chemical dependency treatment centers in the area to provide clients with a holistic approach to their chemical health and mental health needs.

If you would like support in exploring your drinking and/or drug use and how it impacts your mental health, please reach out to schedule an appointment with me.

I believe there is healing power in owning and sharing our stories. We all have parts of our story that we wrestle with, hide, run from, or try to numb. Through my personal and professional experience, I have been amazed by the resiliency and strength of the human experience. I understand the courage and trust that is required to work through these parts of our stories. I feel honored when a client invites me to journey with them in their healing process through counseling. I am passionate about creating safe places for the individuals I work with. My goal as your counselor is to help you feel heard, seen, and valued.

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