Truly, drug abuse is an issue that has touched most of us in one way or another. It could be a neighbor, a friend or a colleague.
It, however, touches us the most when drug abuse affects a family member. It hurts more when the addict is a close member of the family unit.Maybe a son, a daughter, a nephew, cousin, or sibling.
It is hard to see a family a brother or a sister or even your own child get consumed by addiction.
Sometimes you may even blame yourself for their addiction. The addiction can also lead to breakage of the close bonds of family that you once had.
However, you shouldn’t lose hope. The broken family bond can be repaired through drug addiction counseling.
What is Drug Addiction Counseling?
Addiction is a chronic disease of the brain that induces compulsive activity despite the obvious health, social, economic and legal consequences.
It alters the chemistry of the brain to believe that its existence is linked to the drug. It is usually triggered when the drugs trigger the pleasure centers of the brain.
After continued use, it affects the brain’s reward system thus making the person dependent on the drug.
At this point, a user becomes an addict. In order to make a successful recovery, addiction counseling is almost always needed.
This is undoubtedly a major problem. However, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services report that about 90% of most people who need drug rehab do not receive it.
Addiction can be caused by both genetic and environmental factors. A person’s genetic makeup can make him/her more prone to thrill-seeking and thus lead to addiction.
In the same way, life events such as trauma and early exposure to substances can trigger addiction. Addiction causes both physical and mental side effects.
Physical symptoms include drug cravings and withdrawal symptoms. Mental symptoms can include anxiety disorders and depression.
Addiction rehab focuses on both genetic and environmental factors that cause addiction. It also seeks to eliminate the physical and mental side effects that enhance addiction.
How does it work?
Addiction rehab basically involves two aspects: Detox and therapy. Detox focuses on the physical aspect of drug addiction. It keeps the addict comfortable by removing the cravings and withdrawal symptoms.
This usually lasts about 1-3 weeks. Therapy focuses on the mental aspect of drug addiction.
Detox focuses on the physical aspect of drug addiction. It keeps the addict comfortable by removing the cravings and withdrawal symptoms.
This usually lasts about 1-3 weeks. Therapy focuses on the mental aspect of drug addiction.
The period for therapy has no specific timeline. It may take months, or even years of continuous counseling for one to fully recover from the mental effects of drug addiction.
The main aim of counseling and therapy for drug addicts is to get to the root cause of addiction so as to prevent relapse.
Detox alone can’t cure addiction. This is because detox merely removes the drug from the body. Counseling is needed so as to establish and cure the mental cause of the addiction.
Counseling has been proven to be a useful tool in combating drug addiction. Not only does it get to the root cause of the addiction but also helps in curing other concurring mental illnesses such as anxiety and depression.
- Helps the patient break the addictive cycle and establish abstinence toward all mood-altering drugs.
- Helps the patient learn adaptive coping and problem-solving skills that will help him avoid drug use over the long-term.
- Guides the patient through various real-life setbacks and troublesome situations that he may encounter and teach him how to deal with them.
Therapy usually decreases in intensity and duration as an addict recovers. However, many experts agree that one never fully recovers from addiction.
A recovering addict, even after the therapy sessions end, should seek counseling and therapy whenever they are faced with a situation that may tempt them to relapse.
Importance of Counseling
Drug addiction counseling is very important to a recovering addict. It helps in the following ways:
1. Learning and recognizing your triggers.
Every addict usually has a trigger that stimulates them to abuse a certain drug. Such triggers may be psychological, social and even environmental. Counseling will first help you recognize the trigger.
Most of the times an addict usually knows the trigger but does not know that it leads them towards the drug.
Helping them understand the trigger can be a crucial step towards mental recover for the addict. After identification, counseling shows an addict how to avoid a trigger or shows the addict how to cope with a certain trigger.
An example of a trigger can be when a user gets compelled to use drugs after a disagreement at work.
This is a situation that will most likely repeat itself again. Counseling will help the addict cope with this situation differently rather than turning to drugs.
2. Coping with cravings and stressors.
Life, even for an addict, is ever changing. This means that we are constantly exposed to different stressors. For example, new jobs and new relationships. Non-addicts deal with these new stresses in different ways.
However, for addicts, the best way to deal with such stresses is turning to drugs. This might be the same case for recovering addict. He/she may be tempted to deal with a new stress situation by reverting to drugs.
Counseling helps a recovering addict cope with these stressors in ways that do not involve substance abuse.
It also equips the addict with various ways on how to fight cravings. Drug cravings may lead to relapse and it essential that addicts be taught how to deal with them.
3. Considering the outcome of a potential relapse.
It is very important to show the addict the possible consequences of potential relapse. Counseling enforces the notion that relapse isn’t the answer to potentially difficult situations in life.
Counseling provides you with the necessary tools to evaluate the possible outcomes of a relapse thereby assisting you in living a sober and drug-free life. Showing the potential outcomes of a relapse may help the addict abstain from abuse later in life.
4. Stopping a lapse from becoming a relapse.
Counseling helps the addict understand that slips can occur. It helps the addict understand how to cope with these lapses so that they do not turn into relapses.
After a lapse, the best course of action is usually seeking help immediately so that you can get back on track.
5. Family help.
Addiction usually affects the loved one’s family as much as it affects the abuser. It can even be difficult for a family to go back to normal after the addict seeks help after addiction.
There are often underlying tensions brought about by the actions of the addict during their period of addiction.
Counseling helps both the family and the addict in calming these tensions. It helps the family to support the addict during the period of recovery.
6. Time and place to talk.
An addict may feel scared and feel like there is no one who truly understands their situation after they go back home. Counseling can provide an important avenue of communication for such an addict.
Having someone to talk to (in this case the counselor) can be important for a recovering addict.
The counselor may also be the best person to give the addict advice on how to rebuild their lives and mend broken relationships.
Counseling for Alcohol Problems.
Many people drink alcohol socially and this can because of its social acceptance and availability it can easily lead to dependency.
Alcohol abuse can cause harm to your body and your social life. When it gets to an advanced stage, one may need counseling to help them kick the habit.
1). An understanding approach.
Each alcohol addict has a different story as to how they got hooked on alcohol. Counseling can help you understand the root cause of your addiction problems.
It can also help you in adopting the changes needed to help you quit the addiction.
As you may know, prolonged alcohol abuse can alter the chemistry of the brain. Addiction itself is defined as a chronic disease of the brain. It is, therefore, essential for you to work with a counselor to guide you through the journey of recovery.
2). An individual path.
Most of the times you will need a counselor to help you understand that you have an alcohol abuse problem. Most addicts do not realize that they are addicted and that their addiction is causing problems.
Understanding your addiction through counseling will help you in creating an individual plan towards sobriety.
The right advice at the right time can help you greatly when overcoming addiction. Counseling can also help you in identifying the triggers that drive you towards alcohol abuse.
3). Inclusive Support.
As human beings, we cannot ignore the social aspect of our lives. Addiction affects the relationships that you have with others. The road to recovery involves rebuilding broken relationships. These relationships can then help you in your journey towards sobriety.
Counseling is also offered to your family members. The may have suffered mentally because of your addiction.
It is also important for them to get counseling to help them deal with some traumatic experiences that may have happened because of your addiction.
What Do Substance Abuse Counselors Do?
Counselors are the most important part of addiction counseling. Their main aim is to guide the addict through recovery and help the addict live a drug-free life even after recovery.
1. Creating a strong bond with their patients.
The decision to seek assistance to solve a drug problem can be a difficult one to make for an addict.
It is therefore very important for a counselor to create a strong bond of trust between themselves and the addict. This bond is known as a therapeutic alliance.
This bond allows the patient to be free with the counselor. It allows the patient to see the counselor as trustworthy and it makes communication between the counselor easier.
It makes the addict understand that the counselor has their best interests at heart. It allows the counselor and addict to bond even in times of tribulation.
After the bond is created the patients feel a greater benefit from the sessions and have a greater desire to go back and have another session. This greatly contributes to the recovery of a patient.
2. Encourage patient recovery.
It can be difficult for a patient to fully motivate himself to quit addiction. This is because the patient might not be aware of his/her addiction patterns. This creates a situation where the counselor is needed to inspire motivation from the patient.
Counselors are encouraged to use different approaches toward motivating addicts. They should find a style that best suits the patient.
Change is usually mostly in the hands of the patient. However, the counselor should be there to motivate the addict during every step of the road to recovery.
3. Help patients develop a relapse prevention plan.
The nature of addiction makes it that most addicts will relapse at some point in time during recovery. Studies indicate that about 40-60% of addicts will relapse at some point.
This puts it at par with well-understood illnesses such as diabetes and hypertension. This doesn’t mean that addiction therapy is a failure. It simply means that a change is needed in the treatment for it to be effective.
Preventing relapse involves more than instilling willpower in the patient to avoid drug use. The counselor has an essential role in developing a relapse prevention plan to help the addict avoid relapse.
4. Meet with Family Members to provide guidance.
Family members and friends are often hard hit by the addiction of one of their loved ones. After recovery, family members can become confused as to how to treat the addicts.
Most of the times they end up enabling the addict or avoiding interaction with the addict. The addict can then feel rejected and they may go back to drugs.
Counselors can assist the family in supporting the addict in a variety of ways. This is essential since family plays a crucial role in helping an addict recover and live a drug-free life.
Family members who have the required information on how to help an addict are essential especially since recovery is usually a lifelong process. They help in offering support and encouragement for the often difficult journey ahead of a recovering addict.
5. Referring patients to outside support groups.
Outside groups such as Alcoholics anonymous can contribute greatly towards recovery for an addict.
These community programs provide a non-judgmental forum where addicts can share their stories, experiences and hardships with people of similar backgrounds.
These groups from an additional layer of support for a recovering addict. It is the role of counselors to refer patients to such groups that can offer invaluable support for an addict.
Drug And Alcohol Counseling Programs
Counseling is the most common kind of treatment for drug and alcohol addiction. It can be offered face to face or during group sessions.
Due to technological advancements counseling can also be offered online through forums such as Skype and Facetime. The are many programs offered but they generally include:
1. Withdrawal Services.
These services are for people that suffer certain mental and physical conditions once they stop using drugs. The program that is best for such a person depends on the severity of the withdrawal symptoms.
- Residential withdrawal: It involves a short stay in a withdrawal hospital or center.
- Home-based withdrawal: It involves intense individual sessions over a short period, followed by counseling. This type can be done at home or as an outpatient at a hospital. It is best suited for addicts with mild to moderate withdrawal symptoms.
Rehabilitation is offered in a variety of ways including:
i). Residential rehabilitation: This program provides a safe and controlled environment for addicts who are unable to battle their addiction through other methods. It offers a range of interventions including one on one counseling and group counseling.
ii). Therapeutic day rehabilitation: Aimed at people who are at risk of short-term harm and need intensive support. Unlike in residential rehabilitation, addicts stay at home when accessing this program.
iii). Peer support: This usually involves peer support from a person who has some experience with drug use. They are usually set up by addicts who have recovered successfully.
Services for families.
Families are an integral part of recovery for a recovering addict. However, sometimes they may also need therapy to help them cope with the demands of a recovering addict.
i). Family drug help: This type of counseling is mainly done in the form of self-help groups. Family members of a person affected by drugs come together to share experiences and ideas. It can help a family member cope with an addict and also get more ideas as to how to help the addict.
ii). Parent Support: This type of counseling is mostly done by professionals. It involves the parents of addicts.
The sessions are supposed to provide support to the parents and also to show them how they can support their children. Parents can be affected greatly by a child who is struggling with addiction and this therapy can help them cope.
iii). Sibling support: This type of counseling is meant to support the siblings of a person affected by addiction. Siblings can also be affected mentally by an addict sibling.
They can also play a crucial role in the recovery of an addict. You can sometimes find that the bond between an addict between a sibling and addict is greater than the bond between an addict and his parents.
iv). Family counseling: This service is offered to people who are looking to participate in counseling together with the addict. This is for families who want to actively participate in counseling with the addict.
Counseling And Therapy For Alcohol.
Alcoholism refers to the dependence on alcoholic substances. Alcoholics are basically unable to control the urge to drink alcohol.
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism 15.1 Million adults in the USA have some sort of Alcohol use disorder. Furthermore, alcoholism causes 88000 deaths annually.
Alcohol dependence is characterized by the situation where alcohol completely takes over a person’s existence. The abuser becomes unable to prevent the urge to take alcohol. In turn, the abuser, his life and his family suffer the effects of his addiction.
Alcohol is absorbed into the bloodstream and its effect increase as the concentration of alcohol increases in the blood. Alcohol affects the body in various ways depending on its concentration in the body:
- Euphoria - State of happiness that occurs immediately after one drinks.
- Excitement - Drowsiness kicks in.
- Confusion - The initial merriment of intoxication fades away and basic functions such as walking and talking become labored.
- Stupor - Bodily functions become difficult to control. Vomiting and loss of control of bladder function soon follow.
- Coma - State of unconsciousness.
- Death - Death is usually caused by respiratory arrest. This is caused by an overdose.
When alcohol becomes an addiction the mental and physical state of the addict deteriorate.
However, this may not be evident to the addict. It, therefore, becomes important for the addict to seek help so that they can get their life back on track.
How it works.
The first step towards a life free of alcohol addiction is admitting that you have an alcohol abuse problem.
People struggling with abuse convince themselves that they do not have a problem.
This makes it easier for them to continue abusing. Acceptance and admitting that you have a problem makes treatment easier to bear since recognizing the problem is usually the most crucial step to achieving recovery.
Behavioral counseling options.
Behavioral treatments allow the addict to work with trained professionals to help in identifying and solving the problem. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse and Alcoholism, counseling is important in reversing the mindset of an addict toward sobriety.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.
This type of therapy is intended to change the addict’s behaviors that lead to abuse of Alcohol.
It helps addicts understand the emotional and physical feelings that drive them towards alcohol. It seeks to break the dependency cycle of an addict.
It helps to instill coping mechanisms in the mind of an addict to help the addict avoid drug-use situations in the future.
Motivational Enhancement therapy.
This is usually a short-term therapy that aims to build a strong desire in an addict to change drinking habits. Motivational therapy helps addicts in planning on how to change drinking habits and also in developing abstinence habits.
Marital and Family Counselling.
Alcohol addiction affects both the addict and the family. This type of counseling helps in mending broken relationships with the addict. With the family on board, the addict always has extra motivation to quit the addiction.
Research has shown that addicts who have the assistance and motivation from family have higher success rates compared to those who go through addiction without family motivation.
These are usually brief meetings with the addict where the addict’s behaviors are laid out. The counselor then proposes a plan of action which the addict should follow so as to achieve successful recovery.
How To Counsel An Addict.
There are different ways to counsel an addict towards a zero drug life.
1. Family counseling.
Most of the times families struggle to come to terms with a loved one’s addiction. Before counseling, you may even find that the family members engage in enabling behavior since they fear confronting the addict.
They fear that they may alienate the addict if they try to address the issue of addiction.
For an addict to recover, however, family support is essential. It is important to rebuild communication between the addict and his family. They know him best and therefore they are the best people to guide him through recovery.
Family counseling can help repair broken bonds between spouses. The non-addict spouse can then assist their addict partner through recovery.
It can also help in rebuilding bonds between relatives and friends that had become distant and resentful. These relatives and friends can help in focusing the addict towards a drug-free life.
2. Behavioral counseling.
Behavioral counseling helps in changing destructive behavior in addicts. It helps in changing an addicts destructive behaviors to constructive ones.
Behavioral therapy also helps in identifying and dealing with future situations that may cause a relapse.
Behavioral counseling helps in identifying cravings and triggers that can lead to relapse. It helps the addict in developing coping mechanisms when faced with difficult situations in life.
3. Counseling during detox.
Counseling is also done during detox. This is usually a period where your body is taken off the drugs. This can cause severe withdrawal symptoms and it can be a very confusing time for the recovering addict.
An addict may even consider quitting due to the severity of the withdrawal symptoms. It is usually a very difficult time for an addict. Counseling is used to help the addict persevere during this difficult time.
Counseling gives you the necessary drive and motivation to take you from substance abuse to a drug free life.
4. Individual One-on-One Counselling.
Individual counseling helps an addict associate closely with his/her counselor. It gives the addict the privacy he requires to be free and open to the counselor.
It is the best form of counseling for addicts that don’t feel comfortable when participating in group therapy.
Individual counseling addresses the individual needs of an addict better. It helps in establishing coping mechanisms and in better identifying the root causes of addiction.
Studies indicate that Individual drug counseling shows faster results than other forms of counseling.
5. Group Counseling.
This mode of counseling involves peer involvement. The peers help an addict with advice and the experience of people who have negotiated recover successfully.
This method of counseling helps an addict to understand that recovery is possible.
Addiction therapy can be a lonely process. Group therapy helps the addict understand that he is not alone in his journey. Peers help in lifting one’s spirit whenever it falls down.
Drug Addiction Treatment Options.
Most drug addiction treatments start with the detoxification process. Sometimes detoxification may involve fatal withdrawal symptoms and this is managed by medication. It is then referred to as medically managed withdrawal.
Detox alone does not cure addiction and when used alone almost certainly leads to failure. There is the need for therapy and counseling.
1. Long-Term Residential Treatment.
This type of treatment involves 24-hour treatment in a non-hospital environment. It typically takes between 6-12 months.
This type of treatment focuses on restoring the patient’s social and psychological deficits that were caused by addiction. The main aim is for this treatment is to fully restore the addict and make him productive again.
Treatment can at times be confrontational since the treatment aims to break the destructive behavioral patterns of an addict. All the while it encourages an addict to create new behavioral patterns and adopt more fulfilling patterns and relationships.
This method can also be adapted to treat people with special needs such as adolescents and people with mental disorders.
2. Short-Term Residential Treatment.
This method involves a brief but intensive based on a modified “12-step approach”. These programs were originally designed to treat alcohol addiction but they were adapted to treat other types of substance disorders following the cocaine epidemic during the 1980s.
The original involved an inpatient stay for about 3-6 weeks. It was then followed by an outpatient therapy and enrollment into a self-help group such as Alcoholics Anonymous.
It is very important for addicts to take part in self-help groups and outpatient therapy since it helps in reducing the possibility of relapse.
3. Outpatient treatment programs.
These types of treatment often vary according to the type of treatment being offered. They are best for addicts with less severe addiction and who are looking to continue engaging in their day to day activities.
This program requires a lot of self-drive since some programs offer drug education. Self-help groups can also be an important part of outpatient programs.
These help in minimizing the risk of relapse in patients. Some programs are even designed to treat patients with other medical or mental health programs.
4. Individualized drug counseling.
Individualized drug counselling focuses on resolving drug use while also assisting the addict in solving other personal issues such as relationship and employment issues.
It focuses the patient on short-term behavioral goals that assist the addict in developing coping mechanisms and avoidance skills that aim toward zero drug use.
5. Group counseling.
Group counseling is to instill abstinence by involving the peers of an addict in counseling. The group of peers can be people in the same situation as the addict or people who have successfully recovered from addiction.
Most of the times, group counseling is not offered alone. It brings out the best results when combined with other forms of behavioral therapy.
6. Criminal Justice systems.
This is where addicts are subjected to rehabilitation due to their involvement with crime.
This system tends to show results since addicts stay within the treatment system longer than those without legal pressure. Addicts who go through this process are supposed to emerge drug free and crime free.
Intervention is a powerful model that works when you're helping a loved on overcome drug addiction. Implementing the right counseling approach can motivate an addict to seek help for substance misuse or other addictive behaviors.
Remember, though, that not all interventions and counseling will be successful. Worse case scenario, your loved one may not respond accordingly or appreciate the efforts of the family.
The treatment plan may even be rejected. You have to emotionally prepare for any outcome; expect that something negative may happen -- for example, anger or resentfulness on the part of your loved one.
If you can't handle it, you might seek help from a Rehab Center. And we'll be ready to help you. Call us on: (+1) 714-676-5400 or visit one of our treatment centers in California.