DRUG ADDICTION & ALCOHOL ABUSE
Alcohol and drug addiction is a common struggle that many face at some point during their lives, so that many seek out drug and alcohol counseling or treatment. People start using or drinking for a variety of different reasons, but when it comes to recovery, traditional treatment offers only one path for recovery: total abstinence. This approach works very well for some, but others need a path that can empower them to manage their addiction differently.
As an addiction specialist with a background and training in substance abuse, I’ve seen how the insistence on total abstinence as a starting point for recovery can be harmful and shaming for some. These individuals are often told that they’re not working recovery hard enough or that they haven’t hit bottom yet, and they may keep bouncing in and out of expensive treatment centers and sober living houses in search of help.
Meanwhile, their struggle only intensifies:
Harm reduction is a way to help people change their substance use without demanding immediate and lifelong abstinence. It uses many creative strategies to keep people safe while they figure out how to develop a healthier relationship with drugs and what their goals are. For some people, that means abstinence; for others that means moderate or safer use.
Harm reduction takes a health perspective, rather than a moral or legal perspective, on drug use. That means that you can be safe to explore your drinking or using habits in a judgment-free and supportive environment.
Harm reduction views drug misuse as a habit that has gotten out of hand, and it is often a signal of other co-occurring problems. Indeed, not everyone who uses substances develops a problem, but those who do have almost always experienced some kind of trauma or even abuse. Trauma and its effects can leave those individuals more vulnerable to the soothing effects that substances have.
That’s why harm reduction is holistic: Harm reduction addresses people’s substance use and the issues that lie behind it. People who are dependent on substances may not want or be able to quit, or they may continue to relapse into substance use. Harm reduction is nonjudgmental, compassionate, and pragmatic—it starts where the person is and stays with the person through the entire process of change.
Harm reduction creates opportunities for people to lead healthier lives. There is evidence behind all of the principles and practices of harm reduction. It can work because it:
As a therapist who practices harm reduction treatment, I will discuss your goals for your drug use. I will collaborate with you on reaching your goals and help you understand any other mental health concerns that I feel may be appropriately addressed in treatment.
If you’re ready to change your life, a way forward is possible. I work with patients who use all kinds of substances and welcome you to come as you are. If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction in some way and are ready to re-engineer your life and discuss your goals for your substance use, I can help you.
Using focused, proven tools in a confidential environment, I can walk with you step by step toward your healing and recovery. I will collaborate with you in building the life that you want and help you restore balance to your life and trust in your relationships with your loved ones. Hope is possible when we’re not alone.
Addiction often has its roots in unresolved pain resulting from emotional, physical, or sexual trauma. The pain is worsened by their shame as they often blame themselves for the emotional wounds that still fester inside them. As emotional intimacy involves feeling free to be oneself in the presence of another, addicts find it almost impossible to intimately connect with someone else. Instead, the substance user learns to deal with unresolved pain by using, which actually makes their depression, anxiety, and shame even worse.
Because those struggling with their substance use often have pressing problems that may be as difficult as their using, it’s important to find alternative ways of managing both the addiction and the emotions that underlie the using. I have training that enables me to do the “depth work” of the emotional transformation that can occur, helping my clients understand themselves and at last be their true selves with another person.
Drug and alcohol counseling can be difficult to start, usually because you might be afraid of judgment or are wondering if harm reduction is the right approach. I applaud your courage in seeking the support you need.
If you’re ready to begin, please call me at (805) 256-3497 or email me at email@example.com to schedule your initial session or a free 15-minute consultation. It would be my privilege to meet with you and for us to discuss how I can help you.
I am being trained in harm reduction through the Center for Optimal Living in New York. From personal experience, I know what it’s like to struggle with alcohol use. If you’re struggling with substance use, you may also be struggling with some sexual behaviors. I am a Certified Sex Addiction Therapist, which means that I have received specific training to help sex addicts and their partners discover healing and lasting change. I can help you consider both your substance use and your sexual behaviors and collaborate with you to support the changes you want to make.
I have also trained at the Institute for Contemporary Psychoanalysis in trauma, addiction, couple and family relationships, shame and other areas critical to long-term healing and change. After you have regained a sense of stability and control in your life, understanding unconscious patterns of being in relationship and managing your feelings is key; you will learn to relate to and manage your feelings that will help you change your relationship with substances.
The time to get help is now. Take back your life by reaching out to me today. No matter what your circumstances may be, no matter how desperate your situation, change is possible. You deserve to heal!
Jeremy Mast, MS, MDiv, LMFT, CSAT is a drug addiction counselor and alcohol abuse therapist in Ventura, CA for people in need of drug or alcohol recovery. He also serves Santa Barbara, Camarillo, Oxnard, and the surrounding areas.