Handling life’s events solo is lonely, scary and difficult. Sometimes, individuals need support through tough times, and counseling provides a positive and constructive outlet to manage stress.
What is counseling in general?
The American Psychological Association defines counseling as the practice of interactions between a client and a counselor aimed at improving functioning in work, school, social, emotional and physical health realms. Sessions primarily use talk therapy in an effort to address these important topics.
Counseling can occur in an inpatient facility or in a separate, outpatient location. It can also be conducted in one-on-one or group settings.
Counseling helps people to identify stressors and other life difficulties, and can focus on a specific area — family counseling, counseling for trauma, crisis intervention counseling, grief counseling and more are all potential specializations. In this guide, we’ll look specifically at drug and alcohol addiction counseling.
What is counseling for substance use?
Counseling for substance abuse will look a lot different than other forms of counseling because there will be a strong emphasis on healing from an addiction. Counseling can start from the first day of sobriety, last through detox, continue through relapses and inpatient treatment and extend for years or decades into recovery.
In addiction counseling a client will work with a professional counselor or therapist to address the mental and emotional side of recovery. While many aspects of breaking an addiction are physical, treating the mind is also a critical piece in the journey of sobriety.
As far as the content of substance abuse counseling, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) will be employed by most counselors and therapists. Evidence-based practice (the combination of up-to-date research and professional expertise) will underline much of your work in sessions, too.
What does CBT and evidence-based practice mean for you? Here are some areas you’ll focus on when you partake in drug or alcohol addiction counseling:
- Identifying triggers to use;
- Naming emotions and environmental stimuli that precede triggers;
- Processing the root cause of your addiction;
- Understanding your addiction history;
- Making SMART goals;
- Education on how addiction affects the brain;
- Building coping mechanisms;
- Finding constructive ways to practice self-care and manage stress;
- Fostering relationships and sober social opportunities;
- Repairing broken bonds with friends and family;
- Honing communication skills;
- Identifying negative thought processes;
- Interrupting damaging thought patterns and replacing them with positive self-talk;
- Healing from past trauma;
- Building resilience in anticipation of cravings and triggers.
This list is not meant to be a chronological checklist, but it’s likely that you’ll hit on most of these areas when you start addiction counseling.
How can substance abuse counseling help me?
Alcohol or drug addiction counseling has many benefits. First and foremost, counseling can help you achieve a smooth recovery. This treatment has shown to be effective in improving substance abuse outcomes especially in comparison to no treatment at all, according to the book Overview of Addiction Treatment Effectiveness.
How do we know addiction counseling is effective? It’s measured by — decreased alcohol or drug use, decreased relapse rates, improved health, improved social functioning, stable employment and decreased criminal activity. The combination of these factors shows that counseling works from a scientific standpoint.
In addition, there are multiple benefits of alcohol addiction counseling that are less quantifiable. Meeting with a counselor or therapist can help you grow in self-awareness, develop essential life skills and figure out ways to handle life’s challenges in a positive way.
In addiction counseling sessions, you’ll learn to express emotions and advocate for your needs and desires. It will take time, but your communication skills are bound to make a drastic improvement. Solid communication and emotional awareness will be an asset in every area of life.
You’ll also have the benefit of regular check-ins with someone who is well connected to a variety of resources. If you partake in counseling and suddenly find yourself in need of resume writing help, assistance with housing or connection with a domestic violence shelter, you’ll have quick access to a host of community services.
How do I get started with counseling for substance use?
Starting counseling services could be the turning point in breaking the chains of an addiction. The long-term and personalized support you receive will change your life when you invest time and effort.
Getting started generally starts with a phone call to a local (or virtual) provider. Generally, an assessment will be conducted to determine the most appropriate level of care for your needs, and then you’ll be matched with a counselor or therapist.
Start counseling for substance abuse today with Mazzitti & Sullivan Counseling. At Mazzitti & Sullivan Counseling you’ll be treated with the dignity you deserve. Get in touch now.