Going to therapy and establishing a trusting relationship with a therapist is the key to overcoming drug and/or alcohol dependence and resolving drug-related issues.
Drug and alcohol addiction are inextricably related to a person’s psyche and other concrete problems (social, financial, or health-related issues). A therapist can work with an individual to help him/her tackle these issues alongside the addiction. People quitting on their own may have trouble examining the life circumstances that led them to addiction, so they are less likely to make changes. Without a professional therapist, former drug users can quickly return to a life on drugs.
Therapists Improve Well-Being
Therapists can help their clients understand drug addiction and help them understand why they act the way they do, which can help put an end to destructive behaviors. They help people realize and overcome the negative feelings, fears, and insecurities that perpetuate self-destructive actions. By helping remove the negative thoughts and behaviors, they can help others see the person’s true personality, which can help in the reestablishment of relationships with friends and family lost before drug addiction. They can help people cope and make sense of past traumatic experiences, which surprisingly may still be shaping their behavior in stressful situations. You can work together with your therapist to define and reach goals that will perpetuate a life without a dependence on drugs or alcohol. The therapist can help establish stable, dependable routines and strategies for coping with stress and reduce the risk of relapse.
What Does a Therapist Do?
Therapists first try to get to know their clients. They might ask you about important life experiences, how your define yourself, what the current problem is you are facing, how would you like to see your problem resolved, how do you react to certain situations, what do you think of before you react, who do you go to when problems occur, etc. Once the therapist understands your experiences, current situation, and behavior, he/she can device a plan to help resolve specific problems.
Drug and alcohol dependence is often a reflection of a person’s negative beliefs, thoughts, or emotions about their life circumstances, so the therapist often engages client in cognitive behavior therapy. The “cognitive” aspect focuses on thoughts.
If the therapist notices that you are perceiving things in an exaggerated, negative way, they will point out these observations and provide you with alternative ways to think about a situation. Negative thoughts often lead to negative behaviors.
The “behavior” aspect of cognitive behavior therapy focuses on changing the ways the client behaves when faced with stress. Some ways of responding to stress might involve drug or alcohol relapse or doing things that will put the person at risk of relapse, so the therapist can work with the client to identify other ways of handling tough situations.
The therapist may also recommend that other forms of therapy be included in treatment. For instance, in group therapy, people can see how others are working to resolve drug or alcohol dependence. A therapist may even use interpersonal therapy in which the client’s personal relationships are examined so that problems can be identified and resolved. Whatever form of therapy is used, the person has to be actively engaged in the process and willing to change the ways of thinking, feeling, and responding that led to drug use.
How You Should View a Therapist
Therapists should be considered partners in health, just like any doctor, because they will work with you to help you resolve psychological/addiction problems, which will put you in better health. Therapists are advisors: they provide you with suggestions on how to handle relationships and stress. Therapists are advocates: they defend your emotions and believe in you. Therapists are enablers: they help you to achieve your ultimate goal of freedom from drug/alcohol addiction.
The Benefits To Seeing a Therapist Over a Friend
Some people think that they can just talk to a good friend when they are having problems. While talking to someone is better than talking to no one, there are good reasons to talk to a therapist instead when challenged with drug-related problems.
A therapist who specializes in drug addiction has seen many people succeed and fail treatment and know the reasons why. Drug addiction is a mentally and physically challenging medical problem to face and talking to a friend will never replace the insights of a therapist.
When speaking with a trained professional, you are the focus of the meeting. You don’t have to, in exchange, listen to and care about your therapist’s personal problems. With a therapist, you can say mean things about others without being judged unfairly. A therapist knows this is a form of release and a way to deal with stress. Everything discussed with a therapist is confidential. With a friend, however, you might be judged or some of your statements might become rumors, so you have to censor yourself to avoid negative consequences.
Can I Break Up With My Therapist?
A trusting relationship with the therapist is essential for conquering drug addiction. If a person feels like he/she cannot establish trust, that person should inform the therapist and explain why so that a replacement therapist can be found. One common reason for switching therapists is that they remind the client of a person they distrust. Another reason may be that the client does not like the way the therapist responds and thus does not feel like the therapist understands or cares about him. The same therapist will not work for everyone, so be honest about your inability to trust your drug therapist.
At Two Dreams, we all want our clients to be able to achieve freedom from drug dependence, and we do not want this aspect holding you back.