Overcoming a drug or alcohol addiction is a challenge. The hardest part isn’t always getting sober, but learning how to stay sober for a lifetime. Fortunately, addiction counseling can be exactly what many patients need on their journey to recovery from addiction.
Counseling Identifies the Goals of Recovery
Not everyone who begins the journey to recovery is excited about the prospect. Some patients won’t ever show up in detox or treatment until there’s an intervention. Ultimately, success has to include personal determination. That’s why it is so important to clearly identify the goals of recovery.
Each individual has a different reason for wanting sobriety. For some, it might be wanting to be a good parent for their children. For others, it is to make their parents proud. Still more might want to pursue a career or just be free from health problems.
Through counseling, patients can discuss their hopes, dreams, and goals. They can identify why sobriety is necessary for each of those goals to be met. Verbalizing this can be a helpful step, and it can mean a commitment to the entire recovery process.
Counseling Addresses Mental Health
There is a strong connection between mental health and addiction. More than half of all people with substance abuse problems also have a mental health issue. Mental illnesses like anxiety, bipolar disorder or PTSD can also increase the chances of developing a drug or alcohol addiction.
Unfortunately, many patients seeking addiction treatment won’t get any mental health support. The two issues are so linked, they also need to be treated simultaneously. Treating both at the same time is known as dual diagnosis care.
Counseling is often the best way to tackle dual diagnosis treatment. Patients will learn why their mental health is impacting their complete recovery. If necessary, they can address underlying issues like a history of trauma. These counseling sessions can make it much easier to avoid relapse and find emotional stability in the future.
Group Counseling Eliminates Isolation
Some counseling is done on a one-on-one basis. Often, however, patients join together for group counseling led by a therapist. Group counseling is an effective way to target feelings of isolation or loneliness.
Addiction is isolating, but so is recovery. Even patients with supportive friends and family might feel like no one understand them. To some extent, they are right. It is hard to understand addiction unless you’ve been through it.
In group counseling sessions for addiction treatment, patients will have the chance to share experiences, thoughts, and feelings. They can connect with one another on a personal level. This combats loneliness, and it helps patients feel more supported and understood.
Family Counseling Can Rebuild Broken Relationships
Addiction can change the dynamic of relationships. Patients might ask loved ones for financial support, or they might lie or steal as a byproduct of their illness. All of these things can make rebuilding relationships seem overwhelming.
Fortunately, most relationships can be restored. The key is often family therapy. For family members of the patient, this is a chance to learn more about addiction. Understanding the disease can make the process easier for everyone.
Family members can also learn the difference between helping and enabling. This is critical because well-meaning family members can unintentionally sabotage recovery. Learning safe ways to help, support and love can encourage lasting recovery and sobriety.
During family counseling, patients can also communicate their fears and emotions in a safe space. Having a mediator makes communication easier for both parties. Just a few counseling sessions can help repair years of damage caused by addiction.
Counseling Emphasizes Relapse Prevention
One of the primary goals of counseling is to prevent relapse. The risk of relapse is serious, and as many as 60 percent of all patients who receive addiction treatment will eventually relapse. Fortunately, counseling is a way to bring down the risk of relapse significantly.
In counseling, patients can discuss their most common triggers. Knowing and identifying these triggers makes it easier to resist them in the months and years to come. Patients can also learn how to establish coping mechanisms. These are unique for each person, but they can include actions like calling a friend, attending a group support meeting, heading to the gym or eating a nutritious meal.
Patients in counseling can also learn the value of routine. Having a schedule means there are fewer choices, and in turn fewer opportunities to relapse.
Certain Counseling Techniques Aim to Change Negative Thoughts and Behaviors
Counseling can also seek to change behavioral patterns and the thoughts behind them. The two most popular techniques are dialectical behavioral therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy.
Cognitive behavioral therapy is all about changing negative thoughts. It seeks to eliminate black and white thinking. It also focuses on mindfulness and seeing reality rather than a skewed or emotional perception.
Dialectical behavioral therapy focuses on changing dangerous behaviors. The goal is for patients to express emotions in a measured way. Often, extreme emotions cause unnecessary stress. These extreme emotions can lead to addiction, so it is critical that they are reduced or eliminated through counseling.
Counseling is a Judgement-Free Space for Patients
In recovery, many patients feel ashamed of their past behavior. They might struggle with guilt, or they might be upset about changes in their lives. All of these feelings and reactions are normal and even healthy. However, they have to be released in a safe way.
Addiction counseling is often the best way to express these feelings. Sometimes, a safe release is what patients need. In counseling sessions, privacy is protected. Patients know that they are in a space free from judgment, which encourages them to open up. Having this safe space for sharing experiences, thoughts and fears is often a huge part of overcoming a drug or alcohol addiction.
Treating an addiction requires a comprehensive approach, and several methods may be employed for maximum success. Addiction counseling is undoubtedly one of the most effective and proven treatment methods, making it necessary during recovery.