What is my relationship with alcohol?
In light of alcohol awareness month, I'd like to take a moment to talk about the challenges faced in addiction and recovery as well as the options people have when making the decision to give up their use of substances. The thought of giving up alcohol can be terrifying for many folks who have become dependent on it because they've learned to view alcohol as a reliable 'friend', a 'confidant' and a temporary relief from emotional pain or trauma. Given this perspective, it may be easier to understand that there is a sense of loss and grieving that occurs when a person begins their journey toward sobriety and healing. Often, it can feel worse before it feels better--a normal part of healing. When it comes to treatment approach and therapy, I think it's important for people to feel empowered and know that they have options that best meet their unique needs.
As adapted from 'Seeking Safety'--an evidence-based treatment manual for PTSD and substance abuse, three ways to give up substances include; 1) Quitting all at once-- this is the traditional abstinence model developed in AA; it is also called quitting 'cold turkey'. This approach has worked for many people, but relapse often does occur and is a normal part of the recovery process. 2) Try an 'experiment'-- also referred to as a 'warm turkey' approach involves giving up substances for a week to see what it's like, then re-evaluate and discuss with your therapist or treatment provider. 3) Cut down gradually-- this is also known as a Harm Reduction approach. It's important to note that making progress, even slowly, is better than staying stuck where you're at, spinning your wheels.'. A harm reduction approach to treatment can look like going from using daily to using every other day (decrease in frequency), or if you're using alcohol in addition to other substances, beginning to decrease or stopping use of the alcohol or another substance at play can also be a measure of progress. A harm reduction approach to treatment is trauma-informed and lends itself to treating substance use from a place of curiosity rather than judgment-- thus teaching people how to have compassion and understanding for their own lived experiences. By achieving more minor successes along the way, it can be much easier to work toward and accept the idea of eventual sobriety.
I have worked with folks in multiple types of treatment settings over the years, including outpatient, inpatient, residential, as well as within the context of the criminal justice/jail system, who have struggled with both trauma and addiction. My experiences working in the field have taught me the importance of meeting clients where they are at and assessing the work from there. I do not believe in a 'one size fit's all approach to therapy, and I recognize that people have different needs. I feel it is imperative to empower my clients to approach their healing through a lens of empathy and understanding--shifting away from the blame, shame, and guilt which perpetuate continued use of alcohol and other substances. If you are looking for support, I would like to show up for you. I would be happy to help you navigate your recovery journey. I am currently accepting new clients and am available for consult calls.
Christina is currently accepting new clients! Click the link below to check out her bio.
California Licensed Clinical Social Worker #87928
New York Licensed Clinical Social Worker #084396
Internationally Certified Alcohol & Drug Counselor (ICADC)
Certified Alcohol & Drug Counselor II (CADC II)