As I believe most anyone in our society could agree, this past year can be perceived as “trying times.” I feel safe to say that many of us have been confronted with thoughts and emotions that have been difficult to cope with. In these cases, many of us have turned to substances for coping with these thoughts and emotions to an extent that we may not have taken them to in the past. Some may have begun using alcohol more often than in the past. Others may have begun taking more of a prescribed medication than the amount that is actually prescribed. Some of us may have even began using a substance that we never used in the past, but due to recent changes in the law, has now become a “go to” when stress levels rise; yes, I’m referring to marijuana. Regardless of the substance, some of us have used them as coping skills for “dealing with” turbulent times and have now found themselves in a situation where they feel the substance is actually “needed” more than just to simply cope with a specific situation.
If you feel as if you can relate to what you just read; you are not alone! If you feel a family member can relate to what you just read and does not currently have the strength to reach out; again you are not alone! Quite often, using alcohol and/or a different mind/mood altering substance in an attempt to cope with a situation can turn from use to over-use (or abuse) without the individual realizing it had progressed to that point. Unfortunately, when the individual realizes it has gotten to that point, a physiological or psychological dependence has developed and stopping is easier said than done. It is also unfortunate that the individual often experiences anxious and/or depressive thoughts and emotions tied to guilt and/or shame from the stigma related to substance use/abuse. In this situation, reaching out for help can become increasingly more difficult and hope can get lost in a neighborhood of self-defeating thoughts and emotions.
I heard mention in a recent superhero movie that, “Hope is like your car keys; easy to lose, but if you look around it’s usually close by.” Feeling like no one understands and that no one can relate to your current thoughts and emotions is very normal. That is why groups can be so powerful in times like these. Hearing your personal thoughts and emotions coming from the mouths of others can lead to an awakening of hope that you may have thought was lost. You can get amazing results from a combination of groups and individual discussions with a counselor who, although has never walked in your shoes, has traveled some of the same paths; such as yours truly. Regardless of the route you take, you are not alone and hope is there to be found!
Please join me in St. Charles on Saturday’s for my “Being Mindful with Addictions” group. I’d love to see you!