Substance use is a common human behavior. People naturally want to alter their brains or physical state in order to relieve pain, feel good, or feel better. Substance use can be a viable way to do that. If substance use becomes problematic, it can have lasting impacts that touch multiple areas of life like relationships with peers and family, cognitive functionality, financial stability, and job performance.

Several of the therapists on our team have specialized training to assist people who want to change their relationship with substances or multiple substances using evidence-based approaches. Therapists are also cross-trained in how to help you work through other life challenges, trauma, and co-occurring mental health issues. By meeting people where they are, we aim to help you define and achieve your personal goals. Working with a therapist to receive focused treatment for substance use can significantly improve your quality of life.

What do substances do in the brain and body?

The chemical makeup of drugs and alcohol releases neurotransmitters in the brain like serotonin and dopamine. These neurotransmitters temporarily initiate pleasurable feelings, reduce stress, and alleviate pain, worry, and fear. Research tells us that substance use is often a response to trauma and other co-occurring health issues. Substance use is also a learned behavior modeled within family systems and other environmental factors. Factors like using during youth when the brain is still being developed and the increasing availability of illicit substances can be contributors to use.

Increased use of any substance builds up a tolerance to it. One will have to use more of that substance to experience the same effect than they did prior to using that amount. Without matching or exceeding tolerance, a person can experience painful withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal is one of the primary reasons why people continue to use substances. Withdrawal management support at home or in a hospitalized setting is recommended.

Prolonged substance use with alcohol, stimulants like cocaine, opioids like heroin and fentanyl, and many other substances can cause significant damage to your organs and systems of your body. For example, alcohol use can damage your pancreas, kidney, stomach, and liver. This can cause chronic pancreatitis and even cirrhosis of the liver. Both disorders are incredibly painful, but treatable.

How do I know if I have a problem with substances?

Contrary to popular belief, most people who use substances do not develop a Substance Use Disorder (SUD). Reaching out for support when you feel like substance use is causing issues in your life can go a long way. Prevention is key.

The DSM-5, or the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Version, helps clinicians determine substance use on a scale of severity from mild to severe. The following may indicate problematic substance use:

  • Taking the substance in larger amounts or for longer than you’re meant to.
  • anting to cut down or stop using the substance but not managing to.
  • Spending a lot of time getting, using, or recovering from the use of the substance.
  • Cravings and urges to use the substance.
  • Not managing to do what you should at work, home, or school because of substance use.
  • Continuing to use, even when it causes problems in relationships.
  • Giving up important social, occupational, or recreational activities because of substance use.
  • Using substances again and again, even when it puts you in danger.
  • Continuing to use, even when you know you have a physical or psychological problem that could have been caused or made worse by the substance.
  • Needing more of the substance to get the effect you want (tolerance).
  • Development of withdrawal symptoms, which can be relieved by taking more of the substance.

Substance use is unique for every person. It would be difficult to create an exhaustive list of possible symptoms and co-occurring issues to perfectly match each person’s individual needs. You may experience some of the things listed above or your substance use may look completely different. If you feel that you may be experiencing problems with substance use, consider seeking help.

When should I seek help?

If you have concerns about your substance use or want to make a change, but you are not sure what your options are, talking to a therapist can make a huge difference. It can be scary to think about giving up, reducing use, or changing your relationship with a substance. But, no matter where YOU are at, having a trained and experienced therapist to come alongside you on your journey has many benefits. And despite popular opinion, you do not have to “hit rock bottom” to seek support. You don’t have to go to a 30-day inpatient program or give up substance use entirely to participate in therapy and achieve your goals. We are here for you.

Before engaging in therapy, familiarize yourself with the National Institute on Drug Abuse’s Principles of Effective Treatment.

To get a baseline idea of the appropriate Level of Care and other needs, consider taking the Addiction Treatment Needs Assessment. Print out the results and bring them with you to your therapy appointment.

What kind of therapeutic approaches are used?

Just as substance use looks different for each person, the approaches that can help will not be the same for everyone. There are several evidence-based therapeutic approaches that have proven effectiveness, which Cherry Hill therapists utilize. Some, but not all of the methods, include:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
  • Motivational Enhancement Therapy/Motivational Interviewing
  • Psychodynamic Therapy
  • Harm Reduction Psychotherapy
  • Multi-Dimensional Family Therapy
  • Twelve-Step Facilitation Therapy

Once your therapist has completed a biopsychosocial assessment during the initial engagement phase, a treatment plan will be developed complete with goals and therapeutic theories the clinician will utilize. For therapy to be successful, it is crucial you agree with the plan and feel knowledgeable about the process.

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Choosing The Right Therapist

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Related Therapist Profiles

The following therapists specialize in Substance Use

Blair Salditch, MSW, LSW

Chicago | Lake Zurich

Blair Salditch is a licensed social worker who received a MSW from the University of Chicago, where she was a Kiphart Scholar of Global Health & Social Development. She has worked both domestically and internationally, providing therapy to children and adults coping with a range of mental health concerns.

Marci Etienne, Ph.D.

Lake Zurich

Dr. Marci Etienne is a licensed clinical psychologist with over 25 years of experience. She completed her graduate education with a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign.

Luke Bruschuk, Intern Therapist

Deer Park

Luke Bruschuk is an MSW intern from Western New Mexico University, set to graduate in May 2024. Specializing in emotional recognition and response therapy, he adopts a strengths-based approach with elements of cognitive therapy and mindfulness. Dedicated to promoting self-awareness, Luke works with both youth and adults. A NASW student member, he enjoys meditation and biking outdoors.

John DeArvil, MSW, LSW

Vernon Hills

John studied psychology at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and earned his master’s degree in social work from Loyola University Chicago. He has experience working with adolescents, adults, and families in outpatient and residential treatment settings. John is motivated to work with people to help them progress towards their goals and see genuine improvement.

Joshua Flanagan, MA, LPC

Vernon Hills

Josh earned his MA in Mental Health Counseling from Trinity International University. Josh is a compassionate and energetic individual who has a lot of passion for helping others. He loves to express himself through creative avenues such as photography, design, etc. and always will do life within community.

Kimberly Johnson, MSW, LCSW, CADC

Lake Zurich | McHenry

Kimberly has a MSW, LCSW and a CADC along with over 7 years working with serious mental health diagnoses and substance abuse from Schizoaffective Disorder, Bipolar, Anxiety, Depression, substance abuse(s), etc. Additionally, the last 5 years were spent in Hospice on a multi disciplinary team working with terminal illnesses, end of life “issues” and families.

Juan Torres, MSW, LSW, CADC

Vernon Hills

Juan is a Licensed Social Worker in the State of Illinois and can provide services in both English and Spanish. He specializes in treating substance use disorders and mood disorders. He works with adolescents and adults in both individual and group settings.

Keith Bjorge, Psy.D.

Lake Zurich | McHenry

Dr. Keith V. Bjorge is a clinical psychologist with 33+ years of experience. He has experience and passion working with troubled marriages, teen and family related problems, chemical addictions, and mood disorders. Dr. Bjorge earned the Master of Arts and Doctor of Psychology in Clinical Psychology from the Illinois School of Professional Psychology.

Diane Geiser, MSW, LCSW

Lake Zurich

Diane Geiser is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with over 20 years of experience working with adults, adolescents, couples and families. Diane is a highly skilled clinician who can work with clients in identifying goals and change strategies that promote growth. She also has experience conducting wellness seminars with corporations and executives.

Rick Coffaro, MA, LPC

Teletherapy Only

Rick Coffaro’s work experience prior to Cherry Hill includes twenty-eight years in sales, marketing, and management. The theme of his career was making, building and maintaining relationships. Rick offers first-hand knowledge of life and career transitions. He enjoys working with individuals, couples, adults, adolescents and young adults, and groups.

Leslie Scofield, MSW, LCSW, CADC

Vernon Hills

Leslie Scofield, MSW, LCSW, CADC is a Licensed Social Worker who has worked in the field of substance abuse for over 15 years. Her practice ranges from children to adults, and focuses on trauma, grief and loss, family issues, and addictions. She is passionate about working with groups. Leslie is also retired from military service, which informs her clinical perspective.

Liz Lattof, MA, LCPC, CCATP

Deer Park | Lake Zurich

As a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor at Cherry Hill Liz works with a wide variety of clients, children, adolescents, families, and adults. She has additional training in play therapy and groups. She enjoys helping people with anxiety, depression, grief, relationship issues, and other challenges and transitions.

John Dichtl, MA, M.Div., LCPC

Teletherapy Only

John Dichtl has worked as a counselor since 2012 in both agency work and private practice. He has focused experience providing couples counseling, and treating mood disorders and addictions. With graduate level training in both therapy and theology, John is uniquely equipped to help clients integrate their psychological and spiritual concerns.

Justin Feinberg, MA, M.Div., LPC


Justin’s Graduate education includes both a Master’s degree in Mental Health counseling as well as a Master’s of Divinity from Trinity International University. He works with individuals, couples, and families and has a heart to see relationships flourish and people become who they were meant to be. He has training in Emotionally Focused Therapy and utilizes this toward helping marriages, families, and individuals thrive.

Rebecca Wiegman, MA, LPC


Rebecca received her Master’s degree in Mental Health Counseling from Trinity International University. She has experience working with children, individuals, families, and within groups. Rebecca is enthusiastic about working with different populations and has prior experience in the fields of education, health & fitness, and substance abuse.

Jessica Pinder, MSW, LCSW

Vernon Hills

Jessica is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Illinois with advanced practice skills serving adults with substance use disorders, depression, anxiety, and post traumatic stress disorder in addition to traumatic brain injury of various levels of severity and co-existing mental health conditions. She is passionate about human growth and development and has strong generalist competency working with individuals with a wide range of mental health needs.

Patti E. Krivo, MSW, LCSW

Teletherapy Only

Patti is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with decades of experience in the mental health field. Patti specializes in work with trauma recovery and PTSD as well as the impacts of those experiences on family relationships.

Georgene Manley, LCPC, CAADC


Georgene is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor. She has worked in a clinical setting most of her career. She has treated clients in residential, outpatient addictions and mental health treatment programs, and corporate settings. She loves helping clients tap into the resilience that is often overshadowed when anxiety, depression, or addiction surfaces.

Julie Berry, MA


Julie is passionate about working with women, young adults, and individuals helping them find the power within themselves to navigate any struggle they may be facing. She loves forming a strong trusted relationship with her client. She focuses on helping people name their struggles or pains and identify ways to take action toward healing and wholeness. She believes we can learn from life’s experiences as helpful information to understanding ourselves more.

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Here are some groups we recommend to get started

An Introduction to Addiction and Recovery

Join our 4-week Addiction & Recovery Group in Vernon Hills, IL, led by experienced professionals. Explore stages of change, relapse prevention, recovery tools, and building a supportive network for lasting change.

Date: Tuesdays from 6-7:30pm, 10/17, 10/24, 11/7, 11/14 (NOTE: No meeting on 10/31)

Location: Cherry Hill Counseling - Vernon Hills, 977 Lakeview Parkway, Suite 150, Vernon Hills, IL 60061

Cost: $60/session. $240 total. Limited sliding scale options available.

Contact: Joshua Flanagan, MA, 847-438-4222 x 188

View more info