Eating Disorder Therapy

Understanding Substance Abuse: Causes, Effects, and Help

Coming to terms with a substance use problem can be one of the most difficult things a person goes through. For some, it can be a process that is drawn out for years—leaving them feeling out of control, hopeless, and lost. If you are just starting to experience substance use problems, or are questioning whether you have a problem, there are often feelings of disbelief, confusion, and frustration.

People are drawn to substance use for many reasons, and at many ages— a source of fun, part of socialization, or even medication. No one intends for it to become a problem, so few make efforts to safeguard against their use from worsening. As painful things start to happen because of substance use, it can go unnoticed at first or attributed to coincidence, even seen as resulting from outside factors. When this happens, it is common to attempt to control the substance use or, at the very least, control the situations that seem to be causing consequences.

Signs that substance use could be a problem:

  • Reliance on substances as means of creating or removing certain feelings
  • Being unable to function to your full potential because of substance use
  • Using substances in greater frequency or amounts than intended or desired
  • Spending time thinking about using substances or recovering from their effects
  • Planning day-to-day activities (family, work, friends, school) with substance use in mind.
  • Concerns from supports or loved ones about substance use
  • Risk of legal problems due to behaviors surrounding substance use

Giving up the substance is usually the last consideration. Why? Part of the human experience for people with substance use is wanting to gain mastery over the substance, not let it beat them, and to do that independently. It’s also difficult to consider giving up the substance because it serves some need or purpose in their lives, which may be something that they see or possibly something that exists under the surface.

Many people do not seek help because of myths, or mistaken beliefs that exist about substance use. The truth is:

  • Substance use can still be a problem even when it does not happen daily
  • Absence of symptoms, or remission, is not necessarily an indicator that the problem is gone
  • You can be highly successful and have difficulty with substance use at the same time.
  • Not everyone judges or condemns people who have substance use issues
  • Substance Use Disorder is biologically driven but is affected by external factors.
  • Substance use is a part of your story, not the core of your identity
  • Needing help with substance use is not a sign of weakness

Signs that substance use could be a problem

  • Reliance on substances as means of creating or removing certain feelings
  • Being unable to function to your full potential because of substance use
  • Using substances in greater frequency or amounts than intended or desired
  • Spending time thinking about using substances or recovering from their effects
  • Planning day-to-day activities (family, work, friends, school) with substance use in mind.
  • Concerns from supports or loved ones about substance use
  • Risk of legal problems due to behaviors surrounding substance use

How Can Treatment Help?

The goal of therapy for people who have concerns with substance use is not just to make behavioral change, although that is part of it. Therapy can be effective in helping people:

  • Understanding the causes for their substance use behaviors
  • Managing urges, cravings, and thoughts to use substances
  • Learn to deal with distress and emotion differently
  • Building stronger and closer relationships
  • Developing meaningful activities and alternative coping strategies
  • Reconnecting with core values

What is Recovery?

Recovery is the act of getting something back that was lost through the use of substances by practicing abstinence. By removing substances and engaging in activities to grow closer to oneself and others, each person has the chance to become the best version of themself. Recovery is about healing, embracing change, learning to trust others, gaining wisdom, and experiencing greater peace. Each person’s recovery path is unique, but can include things like:

  • Personal spiritual development
  • Community and support building
  • Skill building and practice
  • Volunteerism/mentorship
  • Health and wellness activities
  • Advocacy and social change

Client Coverage Areas include Union County. Our expert clinical staff is committed to helping you achieve the change you seek. If you are struggling with your body image or an eating disorder and would like to take part in group therapy near you, we service Summit, Westfield, Scotch Plains, New Providence, Berkeley Heights, and nearby towns in Union County and the surrounding region.

You are not alone. There is hope.

Contact Us for a no charge, no judgment, no commitment
consultation.

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