When To Seek Treatment For Addiction

Deciding when to take the step into substance use treatment can be a complex task. Often it begins with thoughts around your use and how it is impacting your life. Let's take a look a factors that contribute to the cycle of substance use.

Your Social Circle

What is the drinking culture in your town or within your group of friends or family? Are you finding it more difficult to manage relationships when substance use is involved? Or does it seem activities revolve only around drinking or using?

Who you surround yourself with can sometimes make it difficult to assess whether or not you need treatment. If drinking or using culture is a regular hobby with your friends or family it is easier to fall into the biased trap of "everyone else is doing it". So be thinking about this one as we move into other factors.

Your Coping Tools

When you think of coming home from a hard day of work or school, or maybe you just had an intense conversation with someone close to you, what do you think of doing next? If your impulse is to numb out, shut off, or shut down with substances, it may be time to look into other coping options. This is a clear indicator to begin seeking treatment options whether that be starting with traditional outpatient therapy or higher acuity care, like inpatient.


Now that we went over how your level of coping is a factor, we need to address dependency. Dependency can influence the urgency and acuity of care. If you find yourself with withdrawal symptoms, lower levels of care may not be sufficient enough to meet your needs and keep you safe. This is where inpatient programs, and detox facilities can be helpful in coordinating detox services and manage appropriate care after detoxing.


Research has now directly linked substance abuse/ misuse to trauma. If you find yourself using substances to dissociate, erase mental or emotional pain, treatment options are available. There are groups, online services, and as mentioned before inpatient and outpatient therapies available. Look for providers with "trauma-informed" specialities or experience. Usually, these facilities or clinicians will have modalities that are evidenced-based for treating trauma.


This is when use begins to spiral into risky behavior. This may look like drinking and driving or even spending loads of money at the bar, liquor store or dealer. It is always better to seek help BEFORE risk becomes higher. There is always another rock bottom to hit so if you find yourself in more and more risky behaviors when using, seek help. Harm reduction modalities can be a useful tool any level (inpatient or outpatient therapy) can help you with.

Role Functioning

How is your job going? How are your relationships? How about your self-care? These can all be pretty big red flags substance use is invading your wellbeing. If you find yourself fired from a job due to substance use or you are also regularly hungover, or mildly withdrawing at work and are unable to complete tasks, that may just be enough to tell you there is an issue. If you're losing relationships due to use or people around you express concern for your level of substance use, you may want to seek out a counselor who can help you address how it is impacting you. And lastly, if your areas of self-care are diminishing, maybe this looks like spending all your savings, or you're not taking care of your hygiene. These also can be indicators that substance use is becoming an issue.



Whether you are exploring options for yourself or a loved one, it can be helpful to know the different levels of treatment to see which feels like a good fit.

Detox: Detox facilities help individuals who are experiencing withdrawal symptoms in a safe enviornment where they are monitored by medical professionals.

PHP: Partial Hospitalization Programs are inpatient programming aimed at helping the individual manage the early phases of recovery through daily groups, weekly therapy, medication management, and residential care.

IOP: Intensive Outpatient Programming are weekly group therapy meetings, typically around 10 hours per week to help people establish sobriety once individuals are back in their home and work lives.

OP: Outpatient Programming can be 1-2 individual therapy or group sessions, depending on the facility. The outpatient level of care helps the person manage recovery through the maintenance stages of recovery.

Other resources for substance use:

Smart Recovery

Alcoholics Anonymous

If any of these factors or resources have spoken to you and you want to know more you can always contact me through my website.




The Kindful Life, LLC

19 Old Town Sq. Suite 25 

Fort Collins, CO


Tel: 970-397-7524

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The Kindful Life provides mental health counseling services.