Substance Abuse

Starting Today Counseling

Therapist located in St. Marys, GA, Yulee, FL & Southside, Jacksonville, FL

Substance abuse is a widespread problem that doesn’t just involve illegal drugs but many other addictive substances, such as alcohol, inhalants, and prescription medications. Whatever type of substance you’re using, if you need help to stop or stay off it, Michelle Holley, LCSW, can help. Michelle is the lead therapist at Starting Today Counseling in St. Marys, Georgia, and has considerable expertise in helping people recover from substance abuse problems. Call Starting Today Counseling now to schedule a consultation, or book your appointment online.

Substance Abuse Q & A

What is substance abuse?

Substance abuse occurs when you use a drug or other substance to give you a psychological and often physical reward that then becomes the dominant pursuit of your life. People who have a substance abuse disorder typically neglect their jobs, families, and other responsibilities and feel compelled to use, no matter what the negative consequences.

Substances that can lead to abuse include:

  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine
  • Cannabis
  • Hallucinogens
  • Inhalants
  • Opioids
  • Sedatives, hypnotics, or anxiolytics
  • Stimulants
  • Tobacco

Other (or unknown) substance use disorder is a category that covers other substances people might abuse, such as steroids and antihistamines, that don’t fit into any other category.

How do I overcome a substance abuse disorder?

Overcoming a substance abuse disorder takes place in six stages:

Stage 1: Pre-contemplation

Precontemplation is where everyone starts; this is the state where you are abusing your substance of choice, but aren’t yet taking any action toward change.

Stage 2: Contemplation

When you start to consider that you may need to change but aren’t sure this is the right time. It’s during this stage that you reach a point where you know substance abuse is doing you harm.

Stage 3: Preparation

Having accepted that your addiction is harmful to your health and well-being, you start to make plans to stop.

Stage 4: Action

This is where you begin to act on your plans, undergoing substance abuse therapy and making positive changes in your life.

Stage 5: Maintenance

Once you’ve been through therapy and learned how to manage your substance abuse problem, with time, you become stronger and more aware of the stressors and triggers that could cause a relapse.

Stage 6: Termination

At this point, your substance abuse problem is no longer controlling your life, and you can make progress toward achieving other goals.

You may find that your journey through these six steps has some setbacks, and it’s not uncommon for patients to relapse, then move forward again. Having an experienced therapist and a robust support system in place gives you the best chance of success.

How do I prevent a relapse of my substance abuse problem?

There are several ways in which, with Michelle’s help, you can reduce your chances of a relapse and master emotional regulation. Understanding your triggers and being able to cope with them is vital, as experiencing triggers is one of the more challenging aspects of recovery from substance abuse.

Each person’s triggers might be different, but examples include being in a social environment where the people around you are using, or hearing music, eating food, or smelling something that reminds you of the pleasure you felt when you were using.

Stress is an almost universal trigger, so managing your stress in healthy ways can make a significant difference to relapse prevention. People who have a substance abuse problem almost always see their substance of choice as an emotional support mechanism, something they turn to in a crisis.

In truth, the substance is very likely to make things worse, but the reliance you feel can be hard to shake. Michelle can guide you toward better, more positive ways to manage your stress, from relaxation, mindfulness, and breathing exercises to a wide range of healthier coping mechanisms. 

To schedule a consultation, call Starting Today Counseling or book an appointment online.