You may have tried to get clean before and not quite made it yet.
Or you may have wanted to start, but felt like you didn’t have any support and didn’t know where to start.
Addiction counselors play an important role in getting off of drugs and staying off of them.
But what do they do? And how do you know if they are any good?
In short, the answer is: it depends.
Truly effective addiction treatment is tailored to someone’s individual needs, so which counselor is right for them is dependent on several factors.
What is a substance abuse counselor?
An addiction counselor is a professional who guides you in some way through your journey of cleaning up your life as you struggle with addiction.
The core mission of an addiction counselor is to help patients cope with life’s stresses without using intoxicants.
There a few different types of professionals who help with substance abuse though:
12-Step Addiction programs like Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous were the most common forms of addiction treatment in the United States for a long time.
Developed in 1935 in response to concern for increasing alcoholism, 12-Step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous, and later Narcotics Anonymous, are faith-based approaches to recovery.
The twelves steps are:
- Admitting that alcohol/drugs has taken power, and that your life has become unmanageable
- Coming to believe that a higher power can return you to sanity
- Making a decision to turn your life over to God
- Making a “searching and fearless” inventory of yourself
- Admitting to God, yourself, and others the exact nature of your wrong-doings
- Becoming entirely ready for God to remove “defects in character”
- Humbly ask God to remove those “defects”
- Making a list of all persons harmed
- Making direct amends to as many of those people as possible
- Continuing to take personal inventory and promptly admitting what’s wrong
- Seeking through prayer and meditation to improve your conscious contact with God
- Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps, making an effort to share this method with others who struggle with addiction, and living by these principles always
12-Step counselors are often spiritual leaders, such as pastors, or church elders. Many of them have been through the steps themselves, and were motivated by step-12 to become a counselor.
This type of counseling is very effective for those who are looking for faith-based healing, and sometimes is adapted for those who are not religious.
Sometimes peers play a crucial role in recovery.
People fighting addiction or in recovery have a unique bond, as they each understand what the other one is going through.
There are a couple of different kinds of peer “counselors.” They may or may not have a license to practice psychology, but are an important resource all the same.
12-Step programs and other group therapy programs often assign a sponsor to each participant. A sponsor is someone who has successfully been through the program themselves, who makes themselves readily available to the new recovery-seeker.
They help keep those on a recovery path accountable, and are a first contact when the temptation to use again hits.
Other program provide “peer resource counselors.” Addiction recovery usually poses a long series of logistical challenges that peer resource counselors can help with.
Getting into rehab requires some financing know-how, and the best one for you may have a wait-list.
Current housing may not be an option anymore when someone decides to get clean, and shelters can also have wait-lists.
Having a job provides stability that is especially important to those recovering from addiction, but those who have a prior legal conviction due to past drug use can struggle in that area too.
Many programs have resource counselors who often have been through the struggle with recovery themselves, who specialize in walking people through the sometimes unexpected bureaucracy involved in getting clean.
As the name suggests, many addiction counselors are licensed psychologists who can provide all manner of counseling.
In-patient treatment centers usually have at least one licensed psychologist on hand.
This is especially helpful to those in recovery who have underlying mental health problems, known as co-occurring disorders.
Family therapists can also help couples and families work together to help those struggling with addiction transition once out of rehab.
There several different counseling licenses that apply to addiction treatment.
Some of the most common are:
- Certified Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselor (CADC) – This license is nationally and internationally recognized, and requires an advanced degree.
- Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists (LMFT or MFT) – These counselors usually have a master’s degree, and must do at least 2 years of clinicals.
- Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) – Social workers have to be licensed by their state board. They also usually have at least a master’s degree, and perform social work based on mental and behavioral therapy methods.
No matter which type of counselor you have, the most important qualification is empathy.
If you do not have a rapport with your counselor based on caring and respect, you need to find another one. A negative counseling experience will certainly lead to poor results.
Common Addiction Counseling Methodologies
There are several methods for addiction counseling, as each individual has different needs.
Some of the main groupings that these methods fall into are:
- Individual Counseling
- Group Therapy
- Family Therapy
- Dual Diagnosis Treatment
Individual counseling usually involves steps to identify triggers to use, and making plans to deal with temptation to use in the future. CBT, cognitive behavioral therapy, is one of the most recommended therapy styles for this purpose.
Group counseling is great for building a community of people who understand what you’re going through, re-learning to socialize while sober, and providing addiction education to the group.
Family therapy helps family units learn to cope with issues they face as a group. The family may have experienced some shared trauma due to their loved one’s drug abuse, which needs to be worked through. They also need to learn boundaries between supporting their loved one and enabling them. It also helps someone in recovery to transition back to their home life when their family knows what to expect and how to help.
Dual diagnosis treatment is for those with co-occurring disorders. Regular addiction treatment methods are supplemented with counseling, and sometimes medication, for the underlying mental health issue that either caused or contributed to the individual using drugs in the first place.
Almost all addiction counseling methods focus on the link between feelings and reactions to things in the recovering patients’ lives that drove them using, and finding healthy ways to react instead.
Serenity Lodge prides itself on its addiction counseling options
Serenity Lodge understands the necessity for individualized addiction treatment plans. From first arriving for detox to aftercare, each person’s needs are different.
This is no different when it comes to counseling.
That is why Serenity has both 12-Step programs, and 12-step alternatives.
Our center has all of the main types of counseling listed above available to our Guests.
If you or a loved one is looking for the right treatment center, Serenity Lodge is the right option, because we will make ourselves right for you through individual tailoring of your treatment plan.
Serenity’s answer to “What makes a good addiction counselor?” is “One that listens to your individual needs.”