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What is Drug Addiction Counseling?

By Lori Smith
Updated May 17, 2024
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Drug addiction counseling is an integral part of any substance abuse treatment program. It is a form of therapy designed to help a drug or alcohol addict recover from his disease, and adapt to a new life of sobriety. Counseling can be done in a rehabilitation center or as part of an ongoing outpatient program. Counselors usually have a broad knowledge of the perils addicts face when recovering from a substance abuse problem. This specialized branch of psychology uses a multi-disciplinary approach.

Sometimes drug addiction counseling is done in a group setting, especially in rehabilitation programs. Other times, it is done privately, during one-on-one sessions between the patient and a counselor. It usually starts at the beginning of a comprehensive treatment plan, and can continue for several years into the recovery phase of addiction. The counselor's role is to engage the patient, help keep him motivated toward the goal of recovery, and assist the addict through the many steps to sobriety.

During the early phases of recovery, drug addiction counseling generally helps the patient considerably. Drug and alcohol withdrawal can be both mentally and physically painful. While the patient is undergoing detoxification, the counselor can encourage and assure him that the pain he is experiencing will not last forever. This is only one situation where drug counselors can offer many valuable coping strategies.

Addiction counselors typically work closely with the patient to determine the underlying cause of the problem, in the hopes of preventing future recurrence. Encouraging a patient to talk about painful events in his life is very common during drug addiction counseling. This process can help the patient understand his actions and to learn more positive ways to deal with emotional issues that may have led to unhealthy behavior patterns.

The counselor monitors, encourages, and works with the patient to prevent relapse and self-destructing actions. It is common for the family of an addict to participate in drug addiction counseling for the benefit of their loved one in recovery. Therapy sessions may include goal-setting and positive lifestyle changes. Counselors will often assist patients in finding employment, housing, and to locate self-help groups as part of an ongoing treatment plan.

The disease of addiction can affect people from all walks of life, not just those from the poor or underprivileged socioeconomic classes. Wealthy, middle-aged executives, housewives, and even doctors are not immune to it. In fact, there are many drug addiction counseling centers that are designed for children and teenagers who can also fall victim to the disease.

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Discussion Comments

By pleonasm — On Jul 06, 2013

@indigomoth - Unfortunately, anecdotal evidence isn't really enough to recommend someone not look for an expert in the field if they need a drug addiction counselor.

Often people who have become addicted to drugs have extremely specialized needs. They need someone who can help them through withdrawal and someone who can help them pick up the shattered remains of their lives.

That's not often going to be a normal counselor. In fact, I don't think it would often be any less than a psychologist, or at least a counselor with years of experience.

By indigomoth — On Jul 05, 2013

@croydon - I think it depends on a lot of factors though. It depends on the person, it depends on the drug, it depends on the extent to which they are addicted and it depends on the counselor.

My sister was addicted to a fairly hard drug that she started taking as a teenager and she managed to come off it with the help of an ordinary counselor. She found a person who she related to who was willing to help her through this problem.

Substance abuse counseling is going to be very intense and you need someone who is willing to go through that with you. But I don't think it necessarily needs to be an expert.

By croydon — On Jul 04, 2013

It's really important to get someone who is experienced with drug addiction counseling if you want the sessions to do any good. I know plenty of teenagers who didn't want to admit to their parents that they needed help with substance abuse, who ended up with someone who didn't know how to handle the problem.

It takes a special kind of knowledge and understanding to really help someone out of this kind of condition and it can sometimes require special treatment as well. It's not the kind of thing you can just leave to chance and willpower and hope for the best.

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