Substance abuse occurs when a substance creates problems in our lives. What began as a way to have fun or to avoid things in our life can somehow take over our lives and restrict our choices.
The use of alcohol, illegal, or prescription drugs can become a habit, an addiction, or a preferred way of coping. However, their use can have a negative impact on a person’s life in a variety of ways.
It can impact our relationships, our ability to regulate and express our emotions appropriately, reduce our ability to work or function well, affect our health, and narrow our choices and opportunities in life.
Sometimes people who are close to us may be the ones who first notice that we have a problem and it can be a difficult realisation to accept.
Although we would like to think we could overcome this behaviour by ourselves it can be very helpful to engage with a psychologist to help understand what is happening to you, the reasons or issues that are contributing to the problem, to clarify how we think and feel about it, learning strategies that we know are proven and effective, and having someone who is objective to support and motivate you to continue making those positive changes.
Change can be difficult but always possible when we focus on the reasons we want to change and when we make that decision. Two main factors in successfully addressing substance abuse are:
- Motivation to create a more meaningful and rewarding lifestyle
- A belief in our natural ability to change problematic behaviours which are getting in the way of living a normal life
It is important to believe in your own ability to change, your self-confidence, your faith in yourself, and your hope for the future. Your psychologist will support you during this journey.
Psychologists can help people to:
- Enhance motivation to stop or to reduce substance use
- Develop helpful thinking and behavioural techniques to cope with urges
- Identify unhelpful excuses or unrealistic beliefs that have perpetuated the behaviour
- Develop more effective ways to cope and to build psychological resiliency
- Gain a healthy balance in life and hope for a positive future