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Quitting drinking? Therapy can help, even before you stop.

Updated on June 30, 2008

Therapy can help get you started

If you are still drinking or abusing drugs but think you may want to quit, there are a number of routes you may take. You can try for cold turkey with the help of friends or a 12 steps program like AA or NA, you can enter into a residential treatment program, or you could try to just go it alone.

An often overlooked, but very helpful way to make a plan for your abstinence is to begin working with a therapist or psychologist before you even achieve sobriety. For mot people, initial sessions with a therapist don’t occur until already sober and participating in treatment, but meeting with a therapist prior to making your attempt at sobriety offers a few valuable benefits.

A psychologist, particularly one trained in addictions and abuse, will be able to diagnose the severity of the addiction, will be able to assist in treatment choices appropriate to your condition, and will help you to understand the options available to you as you undertake what can be a very scary process.

Help in the diagnosis

Most people wanting to quit drinking or drugging know they have a problem, and some may even know how bad it is, but an awful lot of people don’t know just how severe the problem is, and only now that they are having real trouble stopping, and that the consequences of their use are becoming to severe to ignore.

It can be very useful to get a professional evaluation on the severity of the problem prior to seeking out treatment help, as different levels of abuse require greatly different levels of intervention.

Help in choosing treatment

If you have an alcohol abuse problem, that has not yet become a dependency, you may benefit from an outpatient type of therapy more than a rehab, and if you have an addiction, depending on the severity, you may be better off in a therapeutic community over a rehab. It can be very difficult to self diagnose the severity of the addiction, and a professional evaluation and some expert advice might save you from wasting time in an inappropriate treatment facility.

Remember, that although people in the rehab business do want to help you, it is a business, and they need you in the door to make money. It can be useful to have a professional advocate on your side who does not stand to profit from your entry into treatment, and whose impartial advice you can trust as unbiased.

Help in getting ready for treatment

For anyone who has been using and abusing for a significant period of time, although we may know that we need help and that we need to change our ways, the though of a lifetime of sobriety, never again able to enjoy intoxication or possibly even the company of currently close, but using friends, can be a very frightening concept.

A psychologist or therapist can help us to overcome some of the anxiety concerning an entry into treatment. Assist us in crystallizing our thoughts and understanding why we really want to get help, and understanding that we can’t have it all in life.

Working with a psychologist helps during in the intensive days of treatment, can be very helpful during long term aftercare, but is also a beneficial process of therapy even as we continue to drink, or drug, but contemplate making a serious and life changing commitment to sobriety.

Psychologists aren't cheap, but then again neither is addiction and drug or alcohol abuse, and if you need to spend a couple hundred dollars a week to get organized for change, to make the right treatment decisions, and to overcome anxieties towards treatment, then that money is very well spent.


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