Better Me

Struggling with Addiction? Don’t Do It Alone.

Coming to grips with addiction is one of the hardest things a person will do – it’s also one of the most important. For a person struggling with addiction, retaking control of your life will be difficult. There will be setbacks, disappointment, failure, optimism, healing and relief. It’s a path that none walk alone. To better understand the path to recovery and the help that’s available, we spoke with Geraldine Leary, a licensed clinical social worker and director of central intake at Banner Behavioral Health. She’s spent most of her life helping others in their personal battles with addictive substances. Today, as the director of intake, she sees the impact of professional programs and support systems.

Listening and Reflection

“It’s not about beating the addiction. It’s about getting to know it,” said Leary. “It can sometimes feel like you are hearing two voices in your head. Learning to distinguish yours from the addiction is vital in your recovery.” There is much more to fighting your vice than just eliminating harmful substances. Regardless of the substance or practice, addiction is as much about psychology as it is about physiology. Working one-on-one with a therapist or in a program or group can be an opportunity for groundbreaking revelations and change. Getting to know your addiction means getting to know yourself. It requires a level of self-reflection that is best achieved with the help of a caring and trained professional.

Acceptance and Support

“Unfortunately, very few people seek support before they suffer life-changing loss,” commented Leary. “Addiction hides itself very well. But with some introspection, it is easy to see. Addiction’s only purpose is to rob you of everything that is important to you, until all you are left with is the vice itself. Recognizing and accepting your addiction early can be very difficult, but it’s never too early (or late!) to seek help.”

No matter the stage of addiction you are in, there is a solution for you. Leary explained a few of the most popular and effective services available at Banner and elsewhere.

  • Inpatient Care – Chemical dependencies are extremely difficult to break on your own. In fact, cutting out addictive substances can even put your health at risk. Inpatient services allow you to detox safely, with supervision to ensure that you are stable. Breaking the cycle typically takes about 3-5 days and while it is only the beginning of your recovery, detoxing may be insurmountable without help. Work with your doctor to decide if inpatient care is the right way for you to begin on your pathway to recovery.
  • Outpatient Care – As you continue your journey, having reliable, expert support is vital. Together with your physician, you will decide on a support system that provides you with the knowledge and encouragement that you need to feel comfortable. Leary explained that “Banner’s Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) offers services specific to chemical dependency 3 times a week. These sessions provide essential education and therapy for people struggling with addiction during difficult periods of recovery.” There is no singular timeline or structure that fits for everyone. Leary recommended working with your therapist to build an individualized care plan that helps you both feel comfortable. To schedule an appointment, you can call Banner’s Appointment Line (602-254-4357).
  • Therapy – Certain aspects of recovery may feel intimidating. If private therapy feels like the right way to get started, Leary encouraged starting right away. “No matter where you are in the process, there is so much to learn and discover. Working with a therapist is an excellent way to get familiar with yourself and your disease. Beyond the effects of the substance, addiction can introduce a lot of trauma into your life. Find healing and peace with the help of an invested partner.”
  • Support Groups – This is a personal battle. But you are never alone. In addition to the professional support you are receiving, Leary recommended meeting with support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous. You will find solidarity and education in these groups. Leary warned, “Addiction thrives in isolation. Finding a group of supportive individuals and leaders will buoy you up during times when you may not be motivated enough alone.”

Don’t Give Up. Don’t Do It Alone.

“Relapse is part of the disease,” stated Leary. “You have to be able to look at the big picture to see that any positive progress is worthwhile. Even if you stumble, things will get better as you continue to try. NEVER give up on yourself. As long as you are alive, there is hope.”

Are you concerned that you or a loved one may be suffering from addiction? This disease is more powerful than you may realize. But, strengthened by your professional and social advocates, you will have the support you need to work to regain your control. To find help and begin your journey toward recovery, there are several resources available if you or a loved one are struggling with addiction:

To find a doctor or behavioral health specialist: Visit

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