12-Step Programs are just one piece of the recovery puzzle.  First, we have to stop the behavior or drug. Then we need to look at the underlying causes and conditions.  For example, a history of childhood abuse, learning disabilities, and trauma are highly correlated with developing a substance use disorder. Until we address the original issue that caused us distress, the emotional hurdles remain unturned, and our chances of creating an effective relapse prevention plan are minimal. As a means of coping with the leftover emotional distress, we can develop more addictive behaviors to self-medicate. This vicious cycle not only increases relapse susceptibility but also steals the fun out of your new life in recovery. 

Growth occurs through Self-Awareness. It's hard for an individual to assess their situation and see what is contributing to their distress without the help of a third party. It is a normal human experience to make excuses, look for reasons, or just be blinded by certain things that happen to us and around us. Using a psychologist can help us gain a birds eye view of ourselves and how we interact with the world. 

Addiction has a way of destroying the addicts self-esteem. By the time we begin the process of recovery, we often feel as though we are bad people who do not have a shot at a decent future. We feel as though we have burned the bridges of life. These negative feelings about the self-are why the first part of the therapeutic process should be strength based, using assessments to highlight what is ‘right with us’ and provide insight into our strengths. 

Next, a detailed history should be shared to identify past events that have negatively impacted the client.

From there we can use modalities such as: 
Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) 
Schema Therapy 
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

Through these types of therapies, we began to realize the story we tell ourselves about our past is dramatically impact our world views today. We start to unload beliefs and perceptions we had that were based out of trauma, and begin to adopt ones that support change and increased satisfaction. 

Relapse Prevention Infographic 

Dual Diagnosis

occurs when there are a mental health disorder and substance use disorder both present at the same time. Nearly 37% of alcohol abusers and over 50% of drug addicts also suffer from at least one psychiatric condition. A psychologist can treat both and help you move forward.

Signs of possible mental illness:

  • An inability to maintain employment
  • An inability to maintain functional relationships
  • Legal problems
  • Financial crisis
  • Extreme mood swings or an inability to control emotions
  • Confused thinking or reduced ability to concentrate
  • Excessive fears or worries, or extreme feelings of guilt
  • Extreme mood changes of highs and lows
  • Withdrawal from friends and activities
  • Significant tiredness, low energy or problems sleeping
  • Detachment from reality (delusions), paranoia or hallucinations
  • Inability to cope with daily problems or stress
  • Trouble understanding and relating to situations and to people
  • Alcohol or drug abuse
  • Major changes in eating habits
  • Sex drive changes
  • Excessive anger, hostility or violence
  • Suicidal thinking

If you are experiencing multiple symptoms listed above, please reach out to a Mental Health Care Professional. You are not alone, get the support and care you deserve. 

Additional resources

Treatment Facility Locator

Dual Diagnosis