Alcohol and Substance Abuse

Drug and alcohol use, abuse, dependency and addiction are amongst of the most
common problems that bring people to treatment. All pose significant risks to health, lifestyle, emotional fulfillment and even freedom. In many cases, substance abuse problems derive from sincere efforts to self-medicate and compensate for anxiety, stress, loss and grief, depression, trauma or abuse. Sometimes, even use of prescribed medications, such as pain, sleeping and anti-anxiety pills, become problematic.  Whatever the route to substance abuse, it is essential that problems are addressed effectively and comprehensively, with a reasonable expectation of long-term sobriety.

I offer treatment in two time windows of  treatment opportunity:

  • In early stages of drug and alcohol use – often self-reported, or discovered at home, work, school or by police – before the need for inpatient treatment.
  • After intense inpatient treatment and return home to family, community and school.

Treatment Approaches

Substance abuse problems often have several underlying causes, commonalities and confounds:

  • Emotional drives to use:Uncontrollable compulsion and habit.
    • o Re-experience of past emotional pain, trauma, abuse and distress
    • o To avoid the experience of current, intolerable problems and failures
    • o To feel good
    • o To forget undesirable experiences.
  • Triggers: people, places, sensations, memories, anniversaries.
  • Relationship dynamics.
  • Recurrent medical and emotional symptoms.

Many treatment programs focus on refusal and relapse prevention skills, peer support, ‘Steps’, strength-based techniques and family involvement. My approach both reinforces and supports these approaches, while adding the focus of addressing the emotional components of addiction – the underlying emotional drives to use. Put another way, the success of traditional substance abuse treatment is undermined if primary, long-standing emotional or experiential drives to use are not addressed. My treatment approach focuses on acquiring the emotion regulation, distress tolerance and mindfulness skills needed to resist and reinterpret the real and powerful desires to use. Resolution of underlying issues is a critical component to developing long-term sobriety.


I take a compassionate, non-judgmental and motivational approach to therapy. We will develop a collaborative relationship to understand your history and current situation. I will help you build a strong support and refusal skill set before we use adult therapy approaches to resolve underlying emotional conflicts (see pages 3 and 7).


Substance and alcohol abuse and dependency use are not normal or acceptable phases of adolescent experience or experimentation. Both are highly dangerous, can lead to death or arrest, and must be dealt with effectively.

Treatment modalities are derived from the Adolescent Community Reinforcement Approach and involves psychoeducation, reinforcement refusal skills, addressing underlying drives to use (peer pressure, mood disorder, stress), and developing a lifestyle away from substance use in cooperation with parents and family.