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 helping you get off drugs and stay off 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.

There a few different types of professionals who help with substance abuse including Substance Abuse Counselors, Therapists, and Psychiatrists.

 

What is a substance abuse counselor?

A substance abuse counselor is a professional who guides you through your journey of cleaning up your life as you struggle with addiction.

The core mission of a substance abuse counselor is to help patients cope with life’s stresses without using substances. Their focus is often on educating clients about addiction and recovery, relapse prevention, and developing a strong aftercare plan to support ongoing sobriety. Substance abuse counselors can also provide support through case management related to employment, legal, and housing issues. Most substance abuse counselors are Certified Alcohol Drug Counselors (CADC) credentialed through the California Consortium of Addiction Programs and Professionals (CCAPP).

There a few different types of professionals who help with substance abuse:

Therapists

Many therapists specialize in addiction and are equipped to provide individual psychotherapy, couples therapy, Family Support, and group therapy.

Therapists are also trained in diagnosing and treating mental health issues.

This is especially helpful to those in recovery who have underlying mental health problems, known as co-occurring disorders.

There are a few common licenses therapists who specialize in addiction may possess.

Some of the most common are:

  • Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists (LMFT) –possess a master’s degree, and have completed 3000 hours of supervised clinical experience and two comprehensive licensing exams
  • Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) – possess a master’s degree, and have completed 3000 hours of supervised clinical experience and two comprehensive licensing exams. Social workers are trained to provide therapy in addition to social work services
  • Pre-licensed therapists- can either be Associate Marriage and Family Therapists (AMFT) or Associate Social Workers (ASW). All associates possess a master’s degree and significant previous clinical experience. Associates provide therapy under the supervision of a licensed therapist.
  • Licensed Psychologists- typically possess a doctorate degree, have completed comprehensive supervised clinical work, and passed an extensive licensing exam. Licensed psychologists are trained to provide therapy as well as psychological assessment.

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.

12-Step Counselors 

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:

  1. Admitting that alcohol/drugs has taken power, and that your life has become unmanageable
  2. Coming to believe that a higher power can return you to sanity
  3. Making a decision to turn your life over to God
  4. Making a “searching and fearless” inventory of yourself
  5. Admitting to God, yourself, and others the exact nature of your wrong-doings
  6. Becoming entirely ready for God to remove “defects in character”
  7. Humbly ask God to remove those “defects”
  8. Making a list of all persons harmed
  9. Making direct amends to as many of those people as possible
  10. Continuing to take personal inventory and promptly admitting what’s wrong
  11. Seeking through prayer and meditation to improve your conscious contact with God
  12. 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.

Peer Counselors

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 the first contact when the temptation to use again hits.

Other programs 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.

Licensed Psychologists

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 Support
  • Dual Diagnosis Treatment

Individual counseling usually involves steps to identify triggers to use, and making plans to deal with the 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 support helps family units learn to cope with the 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 Clients.

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.”

Give us a call today at (866) 379-4365.