Recovery from drug and alcohol abuse involves far more than just breaking the body’s chemical dependence upon a substance. The psychological, emotional, and relational factors that lead to addiction must also be addressed. This is what makes substance abuse counseling so important on the road to recovery.
What Is Substance Abuse Counseling?
Substance abuse counseling is a form of therapy used in drug rehab and alcoholism treatment programs that helps clients overcome a substance abuse disorder (SUD).
The purpose of substance abuse counseling is to address a SUD at the mental, emotional, and behavioral levels. This form of treatment often takes place within rehab centers as part of a holistic recovery program.
What does a drug and alcohol counselor do?
If an individual is currently struggling with substance abuse, they will usually be recommended to a drug and alcohol counselor after first completing a chemical detox program.
Also known as an “addiction counselor,” this professional guides the client through various forms of therapies that address mental health, behavior patterns, and environmental factors that contribute to addiction.
While prescribing medication is not part of this type of counselor’s scope, they can advise patients about healthy coping mechanisms for sobriety. Rehab centers employ addiction counselors to help clients make goals for the long-term such as:
- Recovery: independent living, stable employment plans and career goals, etc.
- Relationships: family dynamics, social needs, friendships, etc.
- Relapse prevention plan: addressing underlying behavioral disorders, avoiding triggering people or situations, etc.
Most drug and alcohol counselor positions at rehab centers require a bachelor of science in some form of psychology. Increasingly, those entering in the substance abuse counseling field are acquiring advanced degrees, such as a master’s or above.
Some states require ongoing education for licensing such as continuing education courses and/or annual state exams. An individual who wishes to be a licensed counselor must have 2,000-4,000 supervised clinical experience hours.
Who Should Consider Drug Rehab or an Alcoholism Treatment Program?
While individuals or families will usually wait to seek out a drug rehab or alcoholism treatment program after a SUD has developed, it’s important to seek help at the earliest suspected stage of addiction.
These signs can be difficult to recognize. This is why so many addiction counselors are more than willing to also see patients who are at risk for–or afraid of–becoming addicted to drugs or alcohol.
A person may seek substance abuse counseling of their own accord for any number of reasons. Perhaps they recognize the fact that:
- Substance use disorders (SUDs) run in their family
- They may live in an environment that encourages addiction
- The presence of an addictive personality in themselves
Regardless of whether an addiction has already formed, rehab centers and related treatment programs can be invaluable resources to help address the psychological and emotional issues that lead to substance abuse.
How Can Rehab Centers Help?
It is incredibly rare for a person to successfully recover from an addiction without external intervention. The further an addiction has progressed, the more professional support becomes paramount to successful detox and recovery.
In addition to substance abuse counseling, rehab centers provide clients with two important things: 1) a safe, empathic environment to detox in and 2) a variety of unique and effective recovery resources.
Alcohol and drug rehab centers can offer clients access to services and therapies that would otherwise be out of reach. Examples include:
- Family counseling
- Adventure therapy
- Employment assistance
- Cognitive behavioral therapy
While not a guarantee to success, receiving substance abuse counseling through a reputable treatment center greatly increases the chances of SUD recovery. This is because studies show that recovering individuals tend to be more successful when they have access to a supportive community and accountability.
Perhaps most importantly, a rehab center can help you establish a relapse prevention plan.
Why Is a Relapse Prevention Plan Necessary?
A relapse prevention plan is an integral part of a long-term approach to recovery. Having a plan in place may greatly reduce the chances of relapse–which are, unfortunately, similar to other chronic diseases such as asthma, hypertension, and type 2 diabetes.
Be encouraged, though, by the stories of thousands of people who have found long-term recovery even after some short-term setbacks by relapse.
Establishing a relapse prevention plan as part of alcohol or drug rehab treatment can help a recovered individual navigate the life situations that would otherwise encourage renewed substance abuse.
A counseling professional will tailor each plan specifically to the individual. It will provide helpful tools, practices, and coping strategies to aid in long-term recovery.
How Can I Speak to a Drug and Alcohol Counselor?
The journey to recovery is difficult, but no one needs to go it alone. If you or a loved one suffers from habitual substance abuse, there is hope.
Contact us today to find out more about the empathetic community at Mountain View Recovery. We provide substance abuse counseling and a relapse prevention plan to support your life-long recovery journey.