Can I Really Tell a Therapist About My Substance Abuse Issues?

If you’re living with an active substance abuse disorder, you might be experiencing some of the consequences of addictive behavior. And, wondering if getting help is the best way for you to proceed with your life. But, if you’re like many others who deal with substance abuse, you may worry about the impact of getting that help. You may be wondering, ‘can I really tell a therapist about my substance abuse issues?”. And, the consequences of doing so.

In this article, we’ll discuss what to expect from getting professional help for substance abuse issues. And, whether or not you have to worry about the things you say to a mental health counselor.

Yes, You Can Really Tell Your Therapist About Your Substance Use

To answer the question, yes, you can talk to your counselor about using illicit, addictive substances. Unless you are a threat to your own life or the life of another, a licensed substance abuse counselor is sworn to confidentiality. This means that whatever you say to your therapist won’t be repeated to another person – ever! So, if you worry about people finding out about your substance abuse issues when you seek help through therapy, they won’t!

Another thing people worry about when it comes to therapy is whether or not they may face judgment by telling a counselor about substance abuse. But, if you are using addictive substances, especially after a period of sobriety, it’s very important to tell your counselor about your self-harming behaviors. This is because once you tell your therapist about your substance abuse, they can work to actively get you the help you may need to overcome relapse. And, determine the best steps to take to get you back on the road to recovery.

Infrequent Instances in Which Therapists Have to Break Confidentiality

All therapists are legally bound to confidentiality. However, there are rare instances in which therapists are required to reach out to law enforcement. Or, reach out to legal guardians of an individual in therapy sessions. However, these are only extreme situations in which a therapist may determine a potential threat to the patient or another. Some of the infrequent instances a therapist may break confidentiality include when a patient:

  • is a dangerous threat to him or herself (suicidal/homicidal thoughts or actions)
  • threatens his or her own life
  • poses a danger to others
  • admits to committing a crime such as theft, abuse, or other threatening offenses

When an individual is dealing with substance abuse and the consequences of these behaviors, the conversations about these topics remain completely private between a therapist and patient. The only time a therapist may contact another about an individual’s conversations during therapy sessions is when a patient’s behavior puts others or themselves in danger. So, unless you are a danger to yourself or others, there’s no reason for you to hide substance abuse issues from a therapist.

Once you tell your therapist about your illicit drug abuse, help can officially commence. And, the creation of treatment initiatives and goals can commence help motivate you on your road to recovery.

Find Out How Therapy Can Help You With Substance Abuse Disorder

Therapy is often a vital tool in the treatment of substance abuse disorder or addiction. The goal of individual therapy for people living in active addiction is to not only address self-harming behaviors but identify why a person is using them in the first place. This involves identifying underlying causes of addiction like concurring mental health issues or trauma. And, work to establish and practice life-changing coping skills. This way, individuals have the tools they need to fight addiction once and for all.

If you or a loved one is dealing with substance abuse issues, help is available. Here at Southcoast Psychiatric Services, we believe in patient/therapist confidentiality. And, work to provide healthy therapeutic environments. This way, patients feel comfortable sharing whatever they’d like, including instances of substance use.

Find out more about our psychiatric services available for those living in active addiction right on our website. And, contact us today by writing us a message or reaching out by calling 561-241-6628.