Hilary K. Robison, LCSW
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Substance use appears to be part of the human condition. There are few of us who don't use any drugs, if we include substances like caffeine, alcohol or nicotine.

While the majority of people who use substances, do so with little or no harmful effects, there are others for whom the negative consequences of use may start to outweigh the positive effects.

Substance use is often used to relieve painful emotions or in some case, to actually allow one to experience emotions that might otherwise feel confusing or threatening. Substance use can interfere with the process of emotional growth and maturation. This is particularly true with the abuse of substances during adolescence.

While many people are aware of the various forms of treatment such as rehab or intensive outpatient programs to address the more serious end of the spectrum of substance abuse, psychotherapy can also be used to address less severe forms of this behavior. Therapy can be a particularly effective modality if used in conjunction with one of the self-help groups such as AA or Moderation Management. Therapy can enhance the ability to make good choices and to use one's strengths and abilities to act wisely upon those choices. It provides an environment in which to explore underlying issues as well as to develop alternative and healthier coping skills.

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