The fight against addiction is a long battle that can be extremely difficult for most people. Addiction is a lifelong disorder that you must constantly be aware of and take action against. However, when it comes to fighting addiction, certain things can give you an edge above your addiction, helping you to stay sober.
There are many tools that you can use to help fight your addiction. Many are extremely useful and can help you stay sober while improving your quality of life. Other tools, such as drug counseling, are more effective than others.
Drug counseling, also known as addiction counseling, is a type of counseling or therapy designed to help people struggling with addiction understand why and how they became victims of substance use disorder.
A drug counselor is vital to staying sober and can often be the difference between staying sober for the rest of your life and relapsing. Drug counselors are not only there to help you unpack your addiction and the trauma or struggles associated with that part of your life, but they are there to help you process all things that factor into your life as well.
If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction and are trying to find a better way to cope with the struggle, then please continue reading. Here, you will learn more about drug counselors and how they can benefit your situation, how they differ from other types of counseling, what the benefits of visiting a drug counselor are, and how to find a treatment center with great counseling.
Why Using A Drug Counselor Is Helpful For Long-Term Recovery
Traditional therapy and counseling are focused on various aspects of your life. Different techniques are used to unpack issues within the person’s life depending on the type of therapy or counseling a patient is in.
So although traditional therapy and traditional counseling are great places to start for people struggling with addiction, these types of counseling are not always geared towards addressing addiction and the issues associated with substance abuse.
How are Traditional Therapists and Drug Therapists Similar?
This is an important distinction because many types of therapy and counseling, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, are used in drug counseling. Cognitive behavioral therapy is a type of therapy used to identify negative behaviors and work on them so that they become positive behaviors. This is done through positive reinforcement and classical conditioning of the patient so that the positive ones overrule the negative behaviors.
Many types of drug counseling will use cognitive behavioral therapy techniques in counseling sessions because it is very good at rewiring the brain to be more inclined to certain behaviors than others. That means that drug counselors can help rewire your brain to avoid addictive behaviors and substance use and to go towards healthier coping mechanisms.
How are Traditional Counselors Different from Addiction Counselors?
Drug counselors differ from traditional therapists because of their focus. Drug counselors focus on exploring and unpacking what initially caused the individual to use a substance. Drug counselors are also interested in exploring the person’s feelings about substances and addiction and creating a space where the individual can become more aware of their negative thought processes and negative behavioral patterns.
From there, the individual can begin to discover and learn healthier coping mechanisms. Over time, they will be able to identify the triggers that cause them to crave substances. After a bit, the individual will be able to create a long-term plan with their drug counselor that can help them stay sober sustainably.
This results in a drug counselor being slightly more beneficial than the traditional counselor or therapist when it comes to a person struggling with substance abuse or addiction. Drug counselors can work specifically on the issue of substance abuse, creating a more targeted program and treatment plan for that patient.
Traditional therapists or counselors will often work with the person as a whole, taking in their past and present, and future goals to create a holistic approach to their treatment. While this is fantastic for understanding a person’s identity or past trauma, it is not always the best way to target a substance use disorder diagnosis or addiction.
Some reasons why an addiction counselor may be a good fit for some struggling with a substance abuse disorder:
- More specialized treatment plans
- Focus on changing behaviors
- Address addiction causes
- Trained for substance use disorder treatments
Benefits of Seeking Counseling When Recovering From an Addiction
The benefits of seeing a drug counselor when recovering from an addiction or fighting substance use are powerful. Drug counselors are integral to the support system of somebody fighting substance use disorder because they can create a partnership or an alliance with their patients to help them fight the disorder and addiction.
Because the drug counselor and the patient can create a bond through therapeutic counseling, the patient does not feel as alone in their fight against addiction. In addition, it allows for trust between the drug counselor and the patient so the patient can be vulnerable with their counselor.
Being vulnerable with your counselor is a crucial part of fighting your addiction and creating a treatment plan that is effective in the long run. The stronger the bond between the drug counselor and the patient, the better the treatment plan. This is because treatment plans are based on what the patient is telling the counselor. If the patient does not trust the counselor, they will likely not tell the counselor all that is happening.
The benefits of having a strong partnership with your drug counselor can be quite impactful. Drug counselors must ensure their patients are invested in their patient’s well-being and success in sobriety. Both patients and drug counselors should be attentive and active during sessions, contributing equally.
A good drug counselor should sympathize with their patient so that the patient feels heard and understood during each session. And of course, one of the most crucial aspects of drug counseling is that the patient feels that they are getting communication back from their counselor that can help them recover.
An important part of many drug counseling programs is to create a relapse prevention plan. Because addiction is a chronic disorder, there is a high likelihood that many people diagnosed with substance use disorder will relapse at some point during their recovery or life.
While relapse does not mean treatment has failed, it shows that the treatment plan must be adjusted so the patient can return on the road to success. Changing a treatment plan after a relapse is not a symbol of a bad counselor or a poor fit for the program. It simply shows that the treatment plan must be altered to fit the changes in the patient’s life.
As we adjust to the changes in life, our abilities to handle different stressors change. A drug counselor can identify those changes and morph the treatment plan to fit these changes as they arise or help the patient to develop a treatment plan in a more positive direction after a relapse.
A relapse plan is more than telling the patient they should say no to substances. It requires much more strength and willpower when the temptation and opportunity for relapse arrive. Unfortunately, the world is not perfect; thus, a patient will likely find themselves in a situation where they have the opportunity to use substances again.
Due to the chronic nature of drug and substance abuse, it can be extremely difficult to say no to substances at the moment. Therefore, a strong relapse prevention plan is crucial to avoid relapses.
Relapse prevention plans are created with the patient’s needs in mind. This individualistic design helps to ensure that each patient feels prepared when they enter a situation with substances.
Traditional therapists cannot always provide this sort of relapse prevention plan, nor do they all have the ability to change a treatment plan around a relapse. This is another reason why drug counselors are so crucial to recovery.
Finding a Treatment Center With Addiction Specialists
Because drug counselors are such a crucial part of recovery from substance use, they must be a core piece of your treatment plan. Luckily, many treatment centers featured drug counselors on their staff.
That being said, not all treatment centers and drug counselors are created equal. Some drug counselors are better than others, who truly and deeply care about their patients beyond the paycheck and the counseling room.
The best drug counselors are invested in their patients’ lives more than just their substance use addiction. At Infinite Recovery, we are proud to have premier drug counselors on our staff who truly care about each one of their patients. So please get in touch today if you or a loved one is struggling with a substance abuse disorder so that our drug counselors can get you the help you need.
Infinite Recovery has sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations for our references. We avoid using tertiary references as our sources. You can learn more about how we source our references by reading our Editorial Policy.
- Hartney, E. VeryWell Mind. DSM 5 Criteria For Substance Use Disorders. Published August 25, 2022. Retrieved July 26, 2022. https://www.verywellmind.com/dsm-5-criteria-for-substance-use-disorders-21926
- Society of Clinical Psychology. What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy? https://www.apa.org. Published July 2017. Accessed July 26, 2022. https://www.apa.org/ptsd-guideline/patients-and-families/cognitive-behavioral
- Wake Forest University. The Role Of The Counselor In Addiction Recovery. Retrieved July 26, 2022. https://counseling.online.wfu.edu/blog/the-role-of-the-counselor-in-addiction-recovery/