Christian Counseling for Chemical Dependency

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(619) 877-2560

When you hear the words “chemical dependency,” what do they make you think of? A person who struggles with alcohol addiction? Someone who is addicted to illegal drugs? Someone who is misusing prescription medication?

All of these answers are correct, and all of these addictions fall into the realm of chemical dependency, which is the body’s reaction to the use of an addictive substance. Substances such as nicotine, alcohol, prescription drugs, or illegal drugs create changes in the brain, leading to dependence on the substance and withdrawals if it is removed.

In the medical or psychological community, the phrase “substance use disorder” is sometimes used as an alternate name for these addictions. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA):

“Substance use disorders occur when the recurrent use of alcohol and/or drugs causes clinically significant impairment, including health problems, disability, and failure to meet major responsibilities at work, school, or home.”

When discussing mental health and substance abuse, experts refer to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. The most updated version is called the DSM-5. The DSM-5 provides a set of 11 symptoms that can be used to diagnose a substance use disorder.

But a person does not need to have all of these 11 symptoms in order to meet the criteria for an addiction related to substance abuse. In fact, they only need to meet two of the 11 criteria to qualify for a diagnosis. These two (or more) symptoms must fall within a 12-month period to be considered diagnosable.

Here are the DSM-5’s 11 criteria for a substance abuse disorder:

  • Consuming more alcohol or other substance than originally planned
  • Worrying about stopping or consistently failed efforts to control one’s use
  • Spending a large amount of time using drugs/alcohol, or doing whatever is needed to obtain them
  • Use of the substance results in failure to “fulfill major role obligations” such as at home, work, or school.
  • Craving the substance (alcohol or drug)
  • Continuing the use of a substance despite health problems caused or worsened by it. This can be in the domain of mental health (psychological problems may include depressed mood, sleep disturbance, anxiety, or ‘blackouts’) or physical health.
  • Continuing the use of a substance despite its having negative effects on relationships with others (for example, using even though it leads to fights or despite people’s objecting to it).
  • Repeated use of the substance in a dangerous situation (for example, when having to operate heavy machinery or when driving a car)
  • Giving up or reducing activities in a person’s life because of the drug/alcohol use
  • Building up a tolerance to the alcohol or drug. Tolerance is defined by the DSM-5 as “either needing to use noticeably larger amounts over time to get the desired effect or noticing less of an effect over time after repeated use of the same amount.
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms after stopping use. Withdrawal symptoms typically include, according to the DSM-5: ‘anxiety, irritability, fatigue, nausea/vomiting, hand tremor or seizure in the case of alcohol.

If you can identify any (or many) of these symptoms in yourself or a loved one, you’re taking the first step towards defeating denial. Denial plays a powerful role in addiction. It has even been called “the primary roadblock to addiction recovery.”

When you are trapped in a cycle of substance abuse, whether it’s alcohol addiction, drug addiction, or another substance, denial can have a soothing effect. It lulls you into complacency. It promises you that you can stop when you’re ready, that you have it under control, that you’re not, for example, a “real” alcoholic.

The chemical dependency counselors in San Diego can help you overcome the numbing effects of denial and addiction. The Christian counselors in San Diego know that people from all walks of life are susceptible to chemical dependency, and all have the potential for recovery. During substance abuse counseling and treatment, you will find help, support, and freedom from shame and guilt.

When you enter substance abuse treatment at San Diego Christian Counseling, you can be confident that your counselor will have a holistic approach to your treatment plan. Our counselors are trained in therapeutic methods for addiction recovery, and they also know the power of faith and the healing Christ offers to those who trust in him.

Your treatment plan will be developed while working with any medical professionals who may need to be involved in a full-fledged recovery. During the initial assessment, your chemical dependency counselor will work to diagnose and understand the extent and severity of your substance use disorder. The next steps of your substance abuse treatment will involve education, support, accountability, self-care,and recovery.

Substance abuse counseling can involve individual counseling or group counseling. At San Diego Christian Counseling, we offer outpatient treatment for substance use disorders, which can include alcohol addiction, prescription drug addiction, and illegal drug addiction.

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Do mental health disorders lead to substance abuse, or is it the other way around?

If you’re experiencing depression as an alcoholic, which disorder is the priority for treatment?

Finding answers to these questions can seem overwhelming and paralyzing when you’re in the middle of addiction and also struggling with mental health issues.

When a person is struggling with both mental health and substance abuse, this is known as having co-occurring disorders. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, people with substance use disorders are twice as likely as the general population to suffer from a mood or anxiety disorder.

Co-occurring disorders may affect each other in a variety of ways, depending on the individual. Sometimes the mood disorder was pre-existing and exacerbated the development of an addiction. On the other hand, an addiction can often trigger a mood disorder.

A treatment plan for co-occurring disorders will address both mental health and substance abuse at the same time for effective recovery. During your sessions, your Christian counselor in San Diego will assess which condition is more severe and how to treat both of them moving forward. Co-occurring disorders may require longer treatment than a single disorder.

If you’re looking for highly skilled and trustworthy therapy from a biblical worldview, San Diego Christian Counseling might be the perfect fit for you. We offer an integrated approach, combining proven therapeutic techniques for chemical dependency recovery with faith-based solutions for hope and healing.

We offer numerous ways to explore our treatment programs before you commit. You can start by browsing our online counselor directory to learn more about our San Diego Christian counselors’ experience and individual approaches. You can also call us today at (619) 332-4448 or send us a message to schedule your risk-free initial consultation.

Don’t wait to start the healing process; talk to a compassionate and experienced Christian counselors today at San Diego Christian Counseling.

Achieving sobriety is the primary goal of recovery. During your sessions, your Christian counselor in San Diego will implement the most effective tools to accomplish this goal.

Learning about addiction can help empower you to overcome it. Once you learn that you’re not alone in the cycle of addiction and that it’s predictable, you realize there is a way out. As you go through the education process, you might uncover pain or trauma that predisposed you to addiction, and your counselor can help you process these experiences and move toward freedom.

Helping your family during your recovery. Addiction affects everyone around you, especially your loved ones. They will also need support and guidance during this journey.

Connecting with God is our hope for you during your recovery. The counselors at San Diego Christian Counseling believe that faith in Christ can carry you through the most difficult days of recovery. We want you to experience peace and healing from the Lord as you work through your treatment process.

Get connected with a Christian Counselor
Please contact our reception team at


Get connected with a Christian Counselor
Please contact our reception team at
(619) 877-2560