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Importance of Addiction Counseling in Recovery

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The Key to Addiction
Treatment: Therapy

Many people think that therapy is a hoax and not worthwhile. You might think you don’t need therapy; all you need to do is just stop drinking. Still, when you try to just stop drinking, you end up giving in and drinking again. Don’t let yourself believe this is because you are weak or a bad person. I have news for you: it isn’t your fault that you can’t quit.

There is a reason you haven’t quit drinking or using drugs yet on your own. Addiction counseling is the key in treatment for addiction. It will help you see why you have been turning to alcohol and drugs for so long and help you to stop.

Believe it or not, therapists go to school for many years to study the brain and psychology. There are some patterns that we cannot pull ourselves out of and addiction is one of them. That is why you can’t stop—your brain is why. In fact, a person’s seeming lack of will to stop drinking or using drugs is what makes addiction so peculiar.

Therapists have studied these patterns, why they arise, and how to intervene to help a person change course.

Addiction is Out of Your Hands

Addiction is in the brain. Most people who struggle with alcohol or drug abuse have no idea why they continue to use substances. At first, it may have just been a habit. However, when addiction fully sets in, new physical structures form in the brain. These structures associate substance abuse as something that makes you feel good and that you need to survive.

Of course, this is only “perceived need,” but this process in the brain is subconscious. So, you need the help of a professional to overcome it. Drug counseling is designed around these conditions. An addiction counselor will guide you through recovery as the brain creates alternative structures. You need to develop new pathways in the brain so that you don’t fall back to the old pattern of drinking or doing drugs.

Identifying Underlying Issues

There are always underlying issues for addiction, something that makes your life particularly challenging or painful. One person may have been brought up in foster care, never forming healthy attachments, and feels totally alone in the world. Someone else grew up in poverty and has constantly struggled to eat and clothe them self and their family. A person may have been trapped in an abusive relationship for years and feels worthless and desperate. There are a million possible stories and reasons.

Additionally, many people who develop addiction suffer from mental health issues and actually have what is called “co-occurring disorders.”

Co-Occurring Disorders
in Drug Counseling

Co-occurring disorders are incredibly common in people who develop addiction. This is when someone, in addition to a substance use disorder, also has a mental health condition. The most common of these are Depression, Anxiety, PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), and Bipolar Disorder.

A co-occurring disorder may be the only underlying reason for a person’s addiction. If you are majorly depressed, and this is going untreated, you are likely to attempt to “self-medicate.” Even if they don’t think of it consciously in this way, drinking or using drugs becomes the only coping skill.

50% of alcoholics suffer from Major Depressive Disorder and 60-85% of people with addiction suffer from some kind of mental disorder. That is a strong majority, so treating co-occurring disorders is obviously a huge aspect of addiction treatment. Therapy plays a big role in that particular side of treatment.

What Does an Addiction Counselor Do?

There are a number of therapeutic methods that may be utilized by an addiction counselor. The most common is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). Some other methods are Motivational Interviewing, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), Behavioral Therapy, and more.

CBT is a process of identifying unhealthy thought and behavior patterns, replacing them with new healthier patterns. In CBT, risky behavior is anticipated and the client works with the therapist to develop healthy coping skills as alternatives to alcohol and drugs.

If co-occurring disorders are present, an addiction counselor will use treatment methods specific to those needs. For example, someone with PTSD might work with their therapist to process the trauma, or to process experiences of symptoms such as flash backs.

Should I see a Therapist in Recovery?

Yes. Absolutely yes. You should definitely go to addiction counseling in early recovery, and this will be a part of any rehab program. Even after those early days of recovery, though, continued counseling can be helpful.

Of course, you may not have to see a therapist weekly after you have been sober for a year or two. Maybe once a month would be efficient, or just sporadic appointments as needed. This could help if you face a trigger that you haven’t been exposed to in a long time, or if anything happens that challenges your sobriety.

Beyond all of this, the emotional damage that active addiction can cause may need extra time and attention to heal. It’s okay to get help. If you have any questions about addiction treatment, or feel stuck on your own and need some help, call (877) 670-8451. You are not alone and recovery is possible.

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