Are You Worried About How Drug Or Alcohol Use Is Affecting Your Life?
Have you had a scary drug or alcohol related experience that’s making you wonder if you have a problem? Have family members or friends voiced concern about your use? Have you, too, started to wonder if your use is shifting into abuse and negatively affecting your life and wellbeing? Or, has a boyfriend, girlfriend or parent given you an ultimatum to stop drinking or using drugs, even if you don’t think that a problem exists? Do you use drugs or alcohol routinely to alleviate stress, numb out or to relax in social situations? Do you look forward to getting drunk or high? Has your use affected relationships, school or work? What does it feel like when you think about not using drugs or alcohol for a week? If the idea is uncomfortable, getting help now can prevent a long list of potential health, social, mental, emotional, and legal problems from occurring as you continue into adulthood.
It’s often said that addiction is a young person’s disease because even moderate use affects brain, emotional and social development. It can arrest emotional maturity and impact critical thinking skills. The younger a person starts drinking or using, the more difficult it is for him or her to admit that there might be a problem. Tolerance and withdrawal symptoms begin to increase in young adulthood, which also leads to increased dependence. Depending on when drug or alcohol use began, a young adult may already be dependent on a substance to relieve anxiety, cope with stress and relax in social situations.
When Use Becomes Abuse
While it’s common for young adults to drink or experiment with drugs, some young adults will take normal use or experimentation into the realm of regular use and/or abuse. It’s also fairly common for young adults to go on binges – to drink or drug heavily in a short period of time. Binge drinking or drugging is a form of substance abuse, although it can be easily hidden because people who binge may go long periods of time between using.
Young adults with a family history of addiction or mood disorders, who began using drugs or alcohol during high school, or who have recently experienced a loss, trauma or a major life transition may be at increased risk for developing a substance abuse problem. An experienced and highly trained BPS therapist can help determine how severe the problem is and recommend the appropriate course of action. Red flags that you may have a problem include: inability to stop using; concern from friends and family about use; experiencing black outs or passing out; difficulties with work, school or relationships because of use; or, drugs or alcohol have become the centerpiece of your life. If you think you may be abusing a substance, getting help now can be critical.
Therapy Is An Effective Way To Address Substance Abuse
With a willingness to change, treating substance abuse is very possible. Your BPS therapist can help you identify, address and take responsibility for your cycle of use. You can learn what triggers you to drink or take drugs and learn refusal skills. You can also receive an education about what drugs and alcohol do to your brain and body. Even moderate drug and alcohol use affects development. But, by stopping now – before your brain is fully developed – your brain can begin to repair itself.
Your BPS therapist can also help you learn how to better handle stress and emotional triggers. You can become more aware of your thoughts and your body and begin thinking before reacting. You can develop healthier coping mechanisms, better communication skills and more effective ways to handle conflict. You can also sort through family and relationship issues and begin making better choices about who you spend your time with. As you make positive changes in your life, you may lose friends, and your therapist can help you work through that grieving process as you transform your life.
There is a lot more to overcoming a substance than giving it up. Getting clean and sober is where your healing begins. However, you don’t have to go through the process alone. Your BPS therapist can provide you with support, guidance, and education as you take these important and life-altering steps. With help and a willingness to change, it is possible to live a joyful and healthy life that doesn’t include drugs or alcohol.
But, you still may have questions or concerns…
I’m worried that if I go to therapy I’ll be forced to admit that I have a problem and have to stop drinking or using.
Take a moment to consider what you’re willing to give up to continue your relationship with drugs or alcohol. Friends? Family? A career? Romance? Your right to drive? If you really do have a substance abuse problem and it is left untreated, it will likely worsen and you could lose all of those things. It happens to people everyday.
Drugs and alcohol impact your brain. As a young adult, your brain is still developing. Stopping drug or alcohol use now gives your brain a chance to repair itself. Stopping use now also gives you the opportunity to catch up with your peers in terms of emotional maturity – which drinking and drugging arrests. Imagine waiting until you are 30 or 40 to address this problem and having the emotional maturity of a teenager.
Drug and alcohol recovery takes time and effort, but you will not be alone. Your BPS therapist can help you maintain sobriety, as well as help you learn how to think rather than react. You can learn how to develop healthy relationships and think critically about how you’re living your life and the kind of life you want to create.
I’m only considering therapy because someone in my life is making me. I really don’t have a problem.
Denial is the hallmark of any addiction. It allows users to remain reactionary rather than thoughtful. That said, you might not have a problem. But, there is obviously something in your behavior around a substance that is causing someone who cares about you to voice concern.
A BPS therapist can conduct a referral assessment to help determine if a problem does exist. If it does, dealing with it now – as a young adult – can have a powerful and positive impact on your life now and in the future. Learning what triggers you to use and developing healthy coping mechanisms now – before drinking and drugging becomes an entrenched self-medicating behavior – can prevent so many problems from occurring in your life.
I only use to take the edge off – just a couple a day. I know that I’m not addicted because I never have hangovers and my use is not affecting my life.
You may be able to use now and feel fine the next day because you are young and healthy and your body is able to fight off drug and alcohol related toxins. However, a couple a day is a pattern, and patterns become entrenched over time. Although life seems fine now, long-term effects of consistent drug and alcohol use can creep up on you. Prolonged use can affect your health, your sleep patterns and you may all of a sudden realize that you’re getting high alone, and have been for a while. A BPS therapist can help determine if a problem exists or if you might be heading down a bad path. Getting help now and learning about the long-term effects of routine drug or alcohol use may be one of the best decisions you can make for your future.
We encourage you to schedule a referral assessment with a BPS therapist, trained by BPS Director Dr. Jan Hittelman. We will work with you to determine what your specific issues are and ensure a good match between you a BPS therapist in terms of personality, style and expertise.
You can also check out our free, online therapist directory, which will match you and with a therapist who has expertise working with young adults on substance abuse issues.