Substance abuse

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

Q. I hope this isn’t too long or detailed — here goes. October of 2006 my husband of 20+ years was diagnosed with prostate cancer. November 2006 my mother was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. She was the caregiver for her mentally & physically disabled sister. December 1 we called Hospice for my mom. December 19 my husband had surgery to remove his prostate. My siblings live out of state (my dad passed in 1993 of lung cancer). My 3 step-children came around for their dad for a week or so. I was totally alone and Hospice was the only help I had. The bottom line is that I think I need help (counseling, etc.) but not sure how to get it. My biggest personal obstacle is that I have major trust issues. My other issues are, depression, alcohol & prescription drug abuse, grief and anger. Can you advise as to how to get help, what kind of help and what to look for in relation to counseling?

A. I am sorry that you’ve had such a rough year. There has been so much going on for you. You must be very stressed and overwhelmed.

I am glad you recognize your need for help. Therapy is a good place to start and I would also suggest in addition to individual therapy that you explore some kind of support group as well. Maybe a cancer support group would be helpful or another related support group for adult children who are faced with having to care for their ill parents. You could also consider a grief support group. You need all of the support you can get.

As far as individual therapy goes, the best way to find a therapist is to either ask around for referrals (friends, etc) or to start with the phone book. Get out the yellow pages and start looking. Call around to different therapists in your area and talk to therapists on the phone. Talk to them about what issues you wish to get help with in therapy and ask questions related to their expertise in these specific areas. You want to get a sense of who a therapist is, if they are trained in issues related to substance abuse and depression, grief and anger, if they have successfully treated individuals with similar problems, and if you feel comfortable talking to them over the phone. Call at least 10 different therapists until you find one that you like. The one you feel most comfortable with on the phone will likely be the therapist who will be the most helpful to you. Take care.

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 20 Nov 2007

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2007). Substance abuse. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 29, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2007/11/20/substance-abuse/

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