Addiction Counselors: How They Help
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Addiction is a chronic and often misunderstood illness. Addiction is a brain disease1, and with drugs and alcohol especially, the brain’s structure and functionality changes. These brain changes can be long lasting and can lead to many harmful, often self-destructive, behaviors. Since the brain chemistry changes, recovery from addiction can be a complex process.
When you begin with addiction counseling, one major benefit you’ll get is a safe space where a professional counselor is able to address all aspects of a patient’s life. Addiction counseling must go beyond the addictive behavior and address any ongoing medical, psychiatric and underlying social problems. Once the underlying problems are addressed, an individual will have the tools needed to regain the ability to make sound decisions and have self-control over the intense impulses to continue to abuse drugs, drink alcohol, or resume their addictive behaviors.
There are many ways addiction counseling sessions can happen. It really depends on which type of therapy is needed, the goals of the treatment2, and various other factors. A substance abuse counselor teaches individuals how to modify their behavior with the intention and hope of full recovery. Because patients have a high risk of relapsing, many substance abuse counselors work with clients on an on-going basis.
A Few Things To Expect When You Begin Addiction Counseling
An initial meeting to evaluate the substance abuse disorder. The counselor will go over all history of substance abuse and make lists of all medication the patient is currently taking.
Identifying issues, creating goals, and making treatment plans. One of the goals of an addiction counselor is to identify underlying behaviors in order to decrease the risk of relapse.
Teaching clients coping mechanisms such as how to avoid high risk situations3. A counselor will go over what type of people to avoid and what situations could potentially harm your recovery process.
Helping clients find jobs or reestablish their career. A counselor can walk with you throughout your entire recovery process (and beyond) and will help you re-enter the job market4 when the time is right. They will also give you tips on how to interview and which jobs are right for you.
Providing guidance and support for family members if you give permission. An individual substance abuse counselor is not only your advocate but can be one for your entire family5. A counselor will make sure your family members are helping and not harming your recovery efforts as well as be a bridge between all parties involved.
Addiction may not be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about diseases, but it is one that is just as devastating as any other disease out there. That’s why addiction counseling is so important while in recovery. It gives patients an opportunity to learn more about their disease and how to not feel ashamed of it. Substance abuse counseling focuses6 on reducing substance abuse. It also emphasizes skill building and advocates that all patients stick to a recovery plan. With time and a willingness to recover, counseling can aid in getting one’s life back on track and on the road to overcoming the disease of addiction.
Additional Reading About Counseling