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Addiction Counselors

There are various types of therapy options available that will allow you to understand what caused your addiction, as well as how to develop a recovery plan to stay sober.

Getting Therapy For Addiction

addiction counseling

Anyone suffering from a drug or alcohol addiction knows how powerful and crippling this disease can be.

When a user accepts they can’t manage their addiction on their own, it is time to seek the help of a professional addiction counselor.

Counselors are an important part of addiction therapy and their role and involvement in the treatment process is instrumental to recovery.

Addiction counselors can help support you throughout the treatment process and create an individualized plan for recovery and after-care. There are various types of therapy available while in treatment that will provide an array of benefits and allow you to sustain your sobriety while in recovery.

What Does an Addiction Counselor Do?

With the help of an addiction counselor, you can begin to establish what exactly caused you to turn to drugs or alcohol, identify potential triggers and create a long-term plan to sustain your sobriety. Both inpatient and outpatient treatment programs rely heavily on the use of addiction counseling and these take place in individual or group formats.

An addiction counselor’s role is to:

  • Provide unbiased emotional support for individuals going through a treatment program 
  • Conduct one-on-one therapy sessions to get to the root of the addiction 

  • Administer periodic drug tests 

  • Develop a specialized plan for treatment based on your individual needs 

  • Help you create an aftercare program based on care available in your area 

Addiction counselors will also conduct group therapy sessions that often incorporate family members or other patients in addiction treatment.

Group therapy can lead to discussions about family dynamics and how unhealthy relationships can create or feed into addictive behaviors. Once these dysfunctions are identified, the patient can begin making important post-treatment plans.

What Makes a Good Addiction Counselor?

An addiction counselor is trained to develop a specific plan for each patient. Your counselor should be a good listener and possesses an overall demeanor of compassion. The initial counseling sessions are designed to lay the foundation for mutual trust, which is imperative for a successful outcome.

I contribute hard work, and my friends at AA for helping me stay sober. I’m still in contact with my counselor at the Greenhouse, my rehab. I love talking to other recovering addicts. 

Janis J, recovering addict

Through a counselor’s empathy (many are former addicts themselves) and patience, they create a safe environment for the user to openly communicate. This will help the counselor identify the underlying issues that may be driving the addictive behavior. This part of therapy is key, because without pinpointing the underlying issue, long-term recovery is unlikely.

A good therapist will also be able to diagnose and treat any co-occurring mental health conditions. The most important quality in a good addiction counselor is a desire and commitment to help their patients achieve long-term sobriety.

What Types of Therapy are Available?

There are many different types of therapies designed to complement the traditional addiction counseling sessions. Depending on the treatment center, these may include:

  • Biofeedback and Neurofeedback. These therapies use real-time displays of brain activity to monitor levels of muscle tension, blood pressure and heart rate. This trains the patient on how to manipulate brain function in order to gain some control over their physiological processes.
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). CBT is effective in helping addiction and mental health disorders because it focuses on the relationship between thoughts and the subsequent behaviors and choices related to them. Through the use of CBT, a counselor can help patients identify triggers that lead to drug or alcohol use, and then replace those responses with healthy ones.
  • Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). DBT is used to treat individuals with a dual diagnosis and one of the main objectives is to help patients gain confidence and coping abilities to handle stressful situations in healthy ways. DBT will also improve communication skills and self-image, which can help people with conditions such as Borderline Personality Disorder and eating disorders.
  • Meditation, Hypnotherapy, Guided Imagery and Mindfulness. These types of therapies place a focus on identifying triggers, controlling stress responses and using deep relaxation techniques. The main idea of this type of therapy is to get an individual into a relaxed state of mind to better understand what could be causing drug-seeking and using behaviors.
  • Holistic therapies. In addition to traditional treatment methods, holistic therapy helps patients practice introspection and learn coping skills. It also gives patients who are not comfortable opening up in traditional therapy sessions a way to communicate their deepest fears and issues in a non-threatening manner. A few forms of  holistic therapy that can be useful in treating addictions are yoga, art therapy and equine therapy.

Quality addiction treatment centers provide a variety of additional types of therapies in order to treat the whole problem, with the ultimate goal being guiding the patient toward a lasting recovery.

Why Do I Need Addiction Counseling?

It may be tempting to think that you don’t need to go through the work and efforts required for addiction counseling.

Few people actually enjoy the process of discussing and uncovering long-held pain and trauma, but without doing the work necessary to isolate the underlying issue that may be driving addictive behavior, sobriety will likely be short-lived.

If you need help finding a treatment program that provides addiction counseling services that are right for you, please contact us today.

Sources & Author Last Edited: February 17, 2016

  1. Web MD. (2016). Substance Abuse and Addiction Health Center: Counseling and Addiction. Retrieved on February 17, 2016, from: http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/addiction/counseling-and-addiction-how-therapy-can-help
  2. American Psychological Association. (2013). Breaking Free From Addiction. Retrieved on February 17, 2016, from: http://www.apa.org/monitor/2013/06/addiction.aspx
  3. Foundations Recovery Network. (2014). How Art Therapy Is Used in Addiction Treatment. Retrieved on February 17, 2016, from: http://www.foundationsrecoverynetwork.com/art-therapy-used-addiction-treatment/
  4. All About Counseling. (2016). Drug Rehab Counselor. Retrieved on February 17, 2016, from: http://www.allaboutcounseling.com/library/drug-rehab-counselor/
  5. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2016). An Individual Drug Counseling Approach to Treat Cocaine Addiction. Retrieved on February 17, 2016, from: https://archives.drugabuse.gov/TXManuals/IDCA/IDCA7.html
  6. Klean Treatment Centers. (2016). Clinical Programming. Retrieved on February 17, 2016, from: https://kleantreatmentcenters.com/addiction-therapies/
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