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Pandemic triggers substance use for some

Pandemic triggers substance use for some Pandemic triggers substance use for some
Sandra Schiele, Counsel House

As a behavioral health specialist at Counsel House in Corydon, I have had three patients who have resumed substance use, citing the pandemic as the trigger.

Let’s talk this week about using/abusing substances, defined as any that are mind or mood altering.

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, you may be suffering from a substance use disorder if you take more or use longer than expected, try to quit or cut back and can’t, spend a lot of time using or acquiring it, experience urges and cravings, can’t manage work/school/home, have additional problems in relationships, choose it over important sober leisure activities, continue even when it puts you in danger, develop a tolerance and encounter withdrawals.

When we look at why many people choose to use, the current state of affairs would seem to justify it. People are angry, isolated, tired, worried, overwhelmed, sad and bored. These are top contributing factors leading one to think that using is the rational response. However, for those in recovery or who have been in recovery, they know that using is a choice. The circumstances that may precede it are excuses.

The first step is to identify if you have a substance use disorder. I tell my patients all the time that it’s not the times that you can control it. It’s the fact that there are times you can’t. The same problems remain and new ones form.

So, what can patients and their loved ones do? Patients can admit to the behavioral health condition of substance use disorder. They can enter detox, remain for a 28-day inpatient stay, participate in intensive outpatient services, explore long-term residential treatment, secure outpatient therapy in a setting like Counsel House, seek medical management programs like methadone and suboxone clinics, attend 12-step meetings and/or participate in other cognitive-behavioral recovery meetings.

Overall transformation in the person’s thoughts and behaviors must occur. This often results in dissolving certain relationships and developing healthier ones. It often means changing hobbies and perhaps even jobs.

For families, there are also 12-step meetings, family counseling and individual therapy services available. Learning to not enable your loved ones and to accept that there’s nothing you can do to get them to stop — they have to want to stop — will likely be your biggest challenges.

For additional information specific to substance use disorders, check out https://www.samhsa.gov.

Until next time, stay safe, stay positive; we will get through this together.

If we can be of assistance to you or a loved one, contact us at 812-738-3277 or via email at [email protected]. You can also access free mental health resources for Hoosiers, endorsed by Gov. Eric Holcomb, at https://bewellindiana.com/.

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