Addiction Counselling Treatment Methods

Patient-Counselor Relationship

The role of the counselor in addiction treatment is to provide support, education, and nonjudgmental confrontation. The counselor must establish good rapport with the patient. The patient recovering from chemical addiction deserves to feel understood and that he or she has an ally. The counselor wants to convey to the patient that he or she appreciates the difficulty of this struggle and the need for support through the recovery process.

Addiction Counselling can take place in different forms, most often in one-on-one fashion but is also available in a couple, family and group format. In whatever modality is taken, it provides the client with a confidential opportunity to discuss their relationship with the problem substance or behavior and its impact on their life and the life of others they care about.

Addiction Counselling is a highly specialized form of counselling that views serious and problematic use of a substance or behavior as far more serious as it being simply a symptom of underlying issues – although inevitably such underlying issues are present. The problematic and addictive elements of one’s life are assessed first and foremost. It is only after an appropriate evaluation of what is underway can a specialized treatment plan be developed that is intended to assist the individual in difficulty to achieve their goals for a better life.

Addiction psychology mostly comprises the clinical psychology and abnormal psychology disciplines and fosters the application of information obtained from research in an effort to appropriately diagnose, evaluate, treat, and support clients dealing with addiction. Throughout the treatment process addiction psychologists encourage behaviors that build wellness and emotional resilience to their physical, mental and emotional problems.

The basis of addiction is controversial. Professionals view it as a disease or a choice. One model is referred to as the Disease model of addiction. The second model is the Choice model of addiction. Researches argue that the addiction process is like the disease model with a target organ being the brain, some type of defect, and symptoms of the disease. The addiction is like the choice model with a disorder of genes, a reward, memory, stress, and choice. Both models result in compulsive behavior.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Dialectal Behavior Therapy and Behaviorism are widely used approaches for addressing Process Addictions and Substance Addictions. Less common approaches are Eclectic, Psycho-dynamic, Humanistic, and Expressive therapies.  Substance addictions are relate to drugs, alcohol, and smoking. Process addictions relate to non-substance related behaviors such as gambling, spending, sexual activity, gaming, internet, and food.

Addiction Treatment

Both process addiction and behavioral addiction have many dimensions causing disarray in many aspects of the addicts’ life. Treatment programs are not a one size fits all phenomenon, hence there are different modalities or levels of care. Effective treatment programs incorporate many components to address each dimension. The addict suffers from psychological dependence and some may suffer from physical dependence. Helping an individual stop using drugs is not enough. Addiction treatment must also help the individual maintain a drug-free lifestyle, and achieve productive functioning in the family, at work, and in society. Addiction is a disease which alters the structure and function of the brain. The brain circuitry may take months or years to recover after the addict has recovered. This may explain why drug abusers are at risk for relapse even after long periods of abstinence and despite the potentially devastating consequences. Research shows that most addicted individuals need a minimum of 3 months in treatment to significantly reduce or stop their drug use, however treatment in excess of 3 months has a greater success rate. Recovery from addiction is a long term process.

Substance Abuse Signs

These are typical signs of Substance Abuse.  If someone you know is exhibiting these signs professional help should be obtained.

  • Responsibilities are being neglected.
  • You or the person you’re concerned about is using drugs under dangerous conditions. They may also be taking risks while high such as driving or using dirty needles.Addiction Counselling - Drug Addiction
  • Using drugs is getting you or the other person into trouble with the law. For example, you may get arrested for possession or committing a crime while high.
  • Substance abuse is causing problems with friends, family, work colleagues and your partner. Are you and your partner always arguing about drugs? Are you struggling to pay the bills because all your money is going on getting high? If what you’re doing is causing you problems in your work or personal life, then this is a very clear sign that you have a problem.
  • You’ve built up a tolerance and are therefore taking more drugs in order to try and get the same high you’re used to.
  • You take drugs to avoid or relieve withdrawal symptoms. If you go too long without drugs, you will experience a number of symptoms including nausea, restlessness, insomnia, depression, sweating, shaking and anxiety. If you’re trying to get through the day without getting high and you experience these physical symptoms, you could have an addiction.
  • You’ve lost control over your drug use. When we do something a lot, we tend to need more of it in order to continue to get the same rush from it. As the addiction takes hold, we’re more likely to start engaging in riskier and more inappropriate behaviors such as taking harder drugs.
  • Your life revolves around taking drugs and you will only socialize with people you know will also be taking drugs. You may find that drug use is consuming your thoughts and you become irritable if you think you won’t be able to use. As a result, you avoid socializing with others because you’re embarrassed about your behavior or because you know you can’t be high while you’re with them.
  • You’ve stopped doing the things you used to enjoy because the only thing you seem to like doing these days is getting high. Someone with an addiction will often become more reserved and will quite possibly start trying to avoid others. There’s a strong possibility that you’re embarrassed about your addiction or maybe you’re worried that friends or family will find out about it.
  • If you continue to use even though you know it’s causing you harm, this is a clear sign that you have a drug addiction. Eventually, an addiction will take hold of a person’s life. As the desire for a fix becomes all-consuming, you may quit or lose your job, do irresponsible things and stop fulfilling commitments.
  • Other signs of a drug addiction can include being distant, irritable and cold towards others. You may also suffer from depression, insomnia, weight loss and generally start looking unhealthy.


Why Counseling Is Important in Addiction Treatment

Opioid addiction is more than a physical dependence on drugs. Even after detox, when physical dependence has resolved, addicts are at high risk for relapse. Psychological and social factors are Addiction Counsellingoften powerful stimuli for prescription drug abuse relapse:

  • Stress, especially sudden life stresses
  • Cues in the environment, like visiting a neighborhood
  • Social networks, like spending time with friends who continue to use drugs.

Individual vs. Group Therapy

While any counseling therapy for drug abuse treatment is better than none, group therapy is generally preferred over individual therapy. In group therapy, a person is more likely to be both challenged and supported by peers who are also going through drug rehab. Twelve-step programs such as Narcotics Anonymous are peer support groups (not led by a trained psychotherapist and, thus, not the same as group therapy) that can be a useful part of a recovery program.