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Substance Use

Heavy alcohol and/or drug use are very common, particularly among young adults, and can begin as early as pre-adolescence for some individuals. Recent increases in alcohol and drug use among adults have, in part, been attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic. With teens, trends show alcohol, marijuana, and tobacco (vaping) are among the most used substances, though opiates (fentanyl, painkillers) and methamphetamines are two other substances of concern, particularly in Colorado where overdose rates have been increasing. As a parent or loved one of someone who uses drugs, this can be incredibly scary. However, with appropriate treatment and a positive support system, there is a lot of hope for successful recovery.

In my experience, heavy or problematic alcohol and drug use almost always co-occur with other psychiatric symptoms, such as anxiety, depression, or perhaps most commonly, a history of experiencing trauma or abuse. It’s important to address past wounds and learn to cope with other distressing and interfering psychiatric symptoms even when substance use may be the main or most apparent concern.

It can be difficult to identify the best time to seek treatment, whether for yourself or your teen. To that, I would say there is no “too soon” when it comes to treatment. After all, prevention (of any use or of a future increase in use) can be the most effective approach. Also, drinking or drug use, like any behavior, can be areas for improvement or change at any time, whether because of negative consequences, concerned family members, or just getting healthier! 

​I have over 10 years of experience working with both teens and adults struggling with behavior change around alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, and illicit drugs. In therapy my goal is to provide a nonjudgmental, supportive environment where we can both learn more about what’s driving your use, what’s motivating you to change, and how we can work together to achieve your goal, whether that’s quitting completely, cutting back, reducing negative consequences, or just trying to have a healthier relationship with substances.

I am currently offering individual therapy for alcohol or drug use for both teens and adults. I would recommend first scheduling a full diagnostic evaluation with me to determine what symptoms or diagnoses may be contributing to alcohol or substance use.  While I do not provide family therapy for substance use, it is often the case that clients want to bring family members into session at some point throughout treatment. In addition, parents of teens may want to be included in some facets of substance use treatment. Family involvement can be a very important part of recovery and is welcomed in our work together. Parent coaching may also be available for parents of adolescents with heavy alcohol or drug use – please inquire further if interested.

Ready to get help?

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