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Substance Only but a Symptom

The risk for COVID-19 for those who use drugs and/or alcohol has been found to be a greater risk especially if they have underlying medical conditions. The risk for substance abuse has been found equally risky during the new COVID-19 era.

The concern for many professionals, like myself, treating substance use issues is that many are afraid to seek help either because of the risk of contracting COVID-19 and/or the stigma that so sadly still follows it.

The stress of the pandemic has been proven to increase depression and anxiety, just as it has influenced many individuals to want to start drinking and/or using drugs again, or if not again, then to increase their use.

The question to many of these known COVID-19 contributions to use is: “What can I do?”

Feeling alone, largely due to the shame and guilt that goes along with using, but also partly due to being told to physically distance/quarantine, all of us at Naya Clinics want you to know, you are not alone. Some struggle with knowing where to start, but there is help and there are resources. Although it has already been said, it is worth repeating—you are not alone. As a matter of fact, literally as I write this, there are others who are walking in similar shoes as yours.

There are strategies; depending on the quantity, frequency, and type of substance being used, will greatly impact the best course to take in getting help. Whether that is to abstain completely or attempt to first try the route of using harm reduction strategies.

What is the difference? Harm reduction strategies are aimed to reduce negative consequences associated with drug/alcohol use. Some suggestions, if you follow them, are there to help keep you safe anytime you use, not just during this pandemic. Some include but are not limited to:

  • Using small amounts of the substance at a time.

  • Telling a friend or family member when and where you will be using and ask them to check in on you at specific times.

Again, and I stress, this greatly depends on the extent of your use, the substance of use, the amount, frequency, and means of method.

Most who have crossed that invisible line repetitively, typically those who have time and time again been unsuccessful in attempting to do it on your own, have been found a group higher who not only need more intense treatment but greatly benefit from it. Whether it is your first time seeking help or more, an individualized plan is important. I once heard a reliable professional specializing in substance use explain it as this: The opposite of addiction is not sobriety, but connection.

Through therapy interventions such as Motivational Interviewing, Reality Therapy, WDEP, Mindfulness, Existential techniques, only to name a few, there are ways to work on this and through it. The most important thing can be said, and it will be over and over, is to keep coming back. Just because your first attempt did not work or was unsuccessful, does not mean it never will. Substance use is but a symptom, let’s get down to the root of the cause, TOGETHER!

Watch for upcoming groups in conquering together!

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About Sam Nabil

Sam Nabil is the founder of Naya Clinics and is a Boston therapist and a Boston Marriage Counselor.

Sam offers therapy in Boston and Boston Marriage Counseling for adults suffering from relationship challenges, life transitions and anxiety. Sam Nabil was featured in many prestigious publications. Check out his interview with Aljazeera English, The Washington post, The Boston Globe, Fatherly magazine, Women's health magazine, Cornell university, Yahoo News, USA Today,

Naya Clinics is a top-rated Marriage Counseling, therapy and Life coaching practice.

Naya Clinics offers Marriage Counselors near me, individual therapy near me, and life coaching near me in various locations across the USA and the world. Naya Clinics also offers Online marriage counseling, online therapy, and online life coaching.

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