Thinking of stopping drinking and taking drugs?

It is perhaps never an easy time to stop drinking or taking drugs, but the lead up to the Christmas holiday season can be a particularly difficult time given the number of social events at this point in the calendar.

A rough rule of thumb when trying to decide if you have a problem with addiction is to assess whether your behaviour has negative consequences on other aspects of your life. Heavy drinking and recreational drug taking for one person might represent a set of lifestyle choices, whilst for another person it might represent a chaotic life with troublesome relationships, money worries and erratic mood regulation.

You could consider the following questions when assessing if you have a problem with addiction:

  • Do you use drink and drugs when you get upset when dealing with other people?
  • Have your personal relationships suffered as a consequence of using drink and drugs?
  • Do you have money concerns as a direct result of using drink and drugs?
  • Are you increasingly angry and fearful in your life?
  • Do you drink or use drugs to escape problems?
  • Do you suffer remorse and guilt afterwards?
  • Have you got into trouble with the law as a result of your behaviour?
  • Are you dishonest about the amount of drink and drugs you use when asked by family, friends or colleagues?
  • Do you drink and use drugs more than you set out to?

You might have a problem if you find yourself answering yes to some of these questions. There is no objective way of assessing problem behaviour as each individual will have their own unique set of circumstances. Therefore, it is important to be honest with yourself when answering these questions.

Seeking help can feel scary as drink and drugs may have appeared to offer comfort and support for so long, especially when coping with anxiety and depression. 12 step fellowship meetings such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous can potentially offer a safe and supportive environment for people wishing to stop and stay stopped. The 12 steps of recovery, and often referred to as the 12 steps programme, are a set of principles helping people to cope with addiction, compulsion and behavioural problems. Lots of people have benefitted from the meetings although others have felt intimidated by the disease model of addiction and by the spiritual aspects of the 12 steps.

Seeing a therapist can help to uncover the reasons for the self-medication that is behind your drinking or drug taking. This might be underlying anxiety and depression, past trauma, difficult attachment issues in early life or relationship problems. You can let go of old patterns of behaviour that are not serving you well as a result of attending therapy sessions and you can embrace a new way of being in the world that is not reliant on substances for a feeling of well-being.

Counselling Directory is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.

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London SE1 & SE26
Written by Noel Bell, MA, PG Dip Psych, UKCP
London SE1 & SE26

Noel Bell is a UKCP accredited psychotherapist in London who has spent over 20 years exploring and studying personal growth, recovery from addictions and inner transformation. Noel is an integrative therapist and draws upon the most effective tools and techniques from the psychodynamic, CBT, humanist, existential and transpersonal schools.

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