Seeking treatment for substance abuse can be scary and overwhelming – both for the individual, as well as their family and friends. But knowledge can be your biggest ally to get past that first big step of making the decision to get help. Knowing where and how to get the right addiction counselling can help to get the ball rolling in a safe and secure environment.
If you’ve got these questions and more, you’re not alone. Learn the basic ins and outs of rehabilitation for those suffering from alcoholism and/or substance abuse.
The Role of the Substance Abuse Counsellor in Treating Addiction
A substance abuse counsellor can be the best place to start to help determine a recommended course of treatment. A professional, licensed addiction counsellor is integral to starting recovery.
Addiction counselling offers individual support and guidance throughout this tough journey. They can assist in creating a personalised plan for recovery and ongoing treatment. There are many different approaches to treating substance abuse.
However, most substance abuse counsellors will cover these basic aspects of addiction counselling:
- Explore the potential causes of drug and alcohol use and/or abuse
- Increase the individual’s awareness of negative patterns in thought and behaviour
- Identify triggers
- Explore healthy coping skills and mechanisms
- Create a long-term plan for sustaining sobriety
- Conduct general assessments and substance abuse evaluations
- Provide unbiased support to the client throughout the recovery
- Provide counselling for the struggling addict, as well as their families and other loved ones
- May provide individual and group therapy sessions
- Provide and oversee psychoeducation
- Conduct drug testing to help the client stay on track
- Develop a personalised plan for the client’s specific struggles, needs, and goals
- Help to create an ongoing plan for sobriety after treatment
Benefits of Addiction Counselling: How Can Counselling Help You or Your Loved One?
There are many benefits to seeing a substance abuse counsellor when trying to reach sobriety. Addiction counsellors can be seen as “facilitators.” A counsellor will not be able to come in and just fix all of the client’s problems for them. They play more of a role in facilitating the individual in overcoming addiction and its causes/triggers.
Clients are provided with an opportunity to discuss their struggles, challenges, and perceived failures in a safe and supportive setting. They are given the support to understand that these struggles are not failures, just steps on their path in life.
Addiction counselling is highly specialised. It treats addiction as a disease and, therefore, enacts specific steps and methods to treatment. It helps to treat the disease itself instead of only approaching it as a “symptom” of some other underlying issue. However, counselling will still attempt to address any comorbidities or mental disorders.
Counselling sessions will be aimed at discovering the problems and challenges in life that may lead to or exacerbate alcohol and/or drug abuse. This can help the counsellor to determine the best course of action or treatment. Counselling can help the individual to cope with stress, anxiety, or any other trigger that may be leading to substance abuse.
Here are some more specific addiction counselling benefits:
- Strengthen the individual’s sense of achievement and self-worth
- Learn to identify personal triggers
- Teach healthy coping methods and ways to respond to triggers and stressors
- Strengthen specific skills to deal with cravings to use drugs or alcohol
- Help the client to mend their relationships (both with loved ones and with the self)
- Help to encourage ongoing recovery and with responsibility and commitment to counselling/treatment programmes
Addiction Treatment Methods and Approaches: Types of Therapy
As mentioned above, there are several approaches that the addiction counsellor may take when treating substance abuse. Here are several potential treatment methods or approaches that your counsellor may choose. Please remember that one method may work better for you, so this can also help in choosing the right counsellor for your specific needs and goals.
- Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) – CBT is used across several different areas of psychological counselling/treatment. It is known to be an effective and successful therapy for helping recovering addicts. CBT focuses on creating new patterns of thinking and processing stress to change maladaptive behaviours
- Motivational Interviewing (MI) – This method of treatment involves the counsellor playing the role of helper in an accepting and supportive environment. It focuses on the client taking control over their treatment and reaching their personal goals with the help of the counsellor
- Contingency Management (CM) – Contingency management relies on positive reinforcement as a major component of recovery. It motivates using material rewards for desirable behaviour (i.e. like maintaining sobriety). It can be particularly helpful when trying to prevent dropping out of treatment or relapse
- Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT) – REBT involves understanding personal thoughts and beliefs and how they affect behaviour. Clients are aided in having more productive and positive thoughts that help boost healthier emotions and emotional responses
- Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) – DBT is an ideal treatment method for individuals suffering from comorbid mental disorders. This is specifically useful in the treatment of clients struggling with severe personality disorders. It focuses on avoiding situations and/or actions that can lead to relapse and focusing, instead, on healthy coping skills
- Matrix Model – The Matrix Model combines several therapy techniques. It focuses on helping the client to reward healthy behaviours and teaching self-worth, dignity, and self-love
- 12 Step Programmes and Facilitation – This is one of the most well-known approaches to treating addiction long-term. Many people find success with sobriety through a 12 step programme that comes along with group therapy, self-help literature, and even a sponsor to help someone through the difficult times that come along with recovery
Individual, Family, and Community Based Treatments
Most addiction counsellors will offer various settings for treatment in the form of individual, family, or community-based treatments:
- Individual Addiction Counselling – This type of counselling involves sessions between the client and counsellor. They focus on the individual and their personal struggles with addiction. These can happen in a residential setting or maybe ongoing weekly sessions
- Family Counselling for Addiction – Family counselling can be beneficial to the client, as well as their family. This can be especially helpful for parents and children. Addiction can affect the whole family unit and can affect interpersonal relationships. Healing should happen from all sides. This is beneficial to all parties, as the clients and the families are both able to get support and create a productive and loving environment during healing
- Community/Group Based Counselling for Substance Abuse – Community counselling can also be quite helpful and effective for the recovering addict. Here, individuals can meet other people who have experienced similar predicaments and are at the same place in the life of wanting to get clean again. Having allies who are in the fight with you can make a huge difference in sticking with sobriety
Residential Rehabilitation vs Outpatient Treatment
One of the first questions many people have is whether to start out with a residential programme or home treatment. There are many factors that can affect this decision. However, statistics show that individuals who undergo residential rehab have higher rates of success with recovery.
Residential substance abuse counselling has a wide array of options. There are short programmes that last only a week or two. More intensive programmes may last up to 6 months or longer. The specifics of an individual’s treatment really should be based upon their unique needs and situation. Each person’s life, struggles, and responsibilities are different.
This is one step that a counsellor can really help with when it comes to assessing the levels of therapy a person should undergo. Substance abuse counsellors are educated and trained to help people just like you or your loved one. And they can help to guide you in the right direction if they feel it would be beneficial to branch out with other treatment or to go into a residential setting.
Use of Medications in Addiction Treatment
Counsellors can not usually prescribe medication, that is unless they also hold a doctor’s M.D. Oftentimes, counsellors will work with psychiatrists or mental health professionals who may prescribe medications or at least provide assessments to determine if they would be beneficial to treatment.
Detoxing in a residential setting may require a doctor’s oversight with medications to help the process and even help ease withdrawal symptoms. If you or a loved one needs to detox, please consider the importance of a residential setting in which there will be 24-hour care to help with this delicate process.
There are quite a few options when it comes to addiction counselling. It is never a bad idea to explore the substance abuse counsellors in your area to help determine which is right for you or a loved one. It can also be helpful to inquire about the counselling practices at a residential rehab facility when choosing the right one.
Please remember to never try to diagnose or treat addiction or any mental health disorder on your own. This should be done with a doctor or mental health professional, such as a licensed addiction counsellor. Best of luck to you on your journey and path to a sober and healthy life.