The Benefits of Counseling for Addiction Treatment

December 10, 2009 by admin 

Counseling is often referred to as talk therapy or behavioral therapy, and it is one of the most important components in the treatment of drug or alcohol addiction.

With some addiction treatment programs, group therapy and individual therapy are recommended. Other courses of treatment may simply recommend individual counseling. People who have drug or alcohol addictions can benefit from counseling, regardless of the type of counseling that they choose to participate in.

There are a variety of techniques used in counseling sessions, but they all have the same primary purpose: to help addicts change their behavioral patterns so that they can be successful in their attempt to stop using drugs or alcohol and learn how to lead healthy, productive lives.

How Counseling Helps Addicts

Behavioral counseling uses specific techniques to better help patients achieve success throughout their treatment. These techniques involve the following approaches:

  • Teaching patients the skills necessary to stop using alcohol or drugs and to avoid a relapse. When people become dependent on alcohol or drugs, they cease to have the control that they once had over their own behaviors, which makes it impossible for them to stop using drugs or alcohol on their own. By utilizing cognitive behavioral therapy, patients can learn to cope with cravings, deal with the negative feelings that might prompt them to want to use drugs or alcohol, and prevent a relapse from occurring.
  • Improving motivation for recovery is a process that works through motivational interviewing and motivational enhancement therapy. These techniques help people to realize the damage that addiction has done to their lives and encourage them to take positive actions toward recovery.
  • Encouraging participation in support groups is a type of counseling approach that helps people recognize that they are not alone in what they are going through. People often feel alone in their addictions, so participating in group therapy sessions can help them to realize that there are others who are going through something very similar. This type of realization helps tremendously in drug and alcohol addiction recovery.
  • Using positive incentives to encourage recovery is a process that can help facilitate behavioral changes in patients. Because addiction recovery is a long process that requires a great deal of commitment and patience, it is often helpful for patients to be rewarded with small incentives that recognize their accomplishments throughout their recovery process. For example, patients may be rewarded with gift certificates, movie tickets or restaurant coupons for successfully reaching certain milestones during treatment. This type of rewards system helps many people remain dedicated and motivated to completing treatment.
  • Involving family members in some treatment activities can also help patients stay motivated. When family members take the time to become educated about a loved one’s addiction and they are willing to participate in that person’s recovery process, it can be very helpful for recovering addicts. Patients need a great deal of support while they are going through treatment for any type of addiction, and knowing that they have the full support of family members can be a tremendous boost.

For some types of addictions, such as methamphetamines and cocaine, there are no medications that can aid in the treatment process. For these individuals, counseling is their best option for treatment and recovery.

How to Know When Addiction Counseling Is Needed

It may not always be easy to determine if addiction treatment is needed for you or a loved one. Here are some signs to look out for that will alert you to the presence of a problem that could be helped by counseling:

  • The person has hurt him or herself, or hurt other people 
  • The person has lost a job or has been missing a lot of time at work because of an addiction 
  • The person cannot stop using drugs or alcohol, even after deciding that it is time to stop 
  • Performing normal functions becomes difficult or impossible 
  • The person feels like taking drugs or alcohol is necessary get through the day

If an individual’s addiction has become so all-consuming that any of these factors are present, counseling can go a long way toward providing that person with some perspective, and will help to get him or her on the road to recovery.

Finding the right counselor to treat your addiction is crucial to a successful recovery program because a good counselor will be able to arm you with the knowledge and tools that are necessary for ridding yourself of your addiction and learning how to lead a life that is free of drugs or alcohol.


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