Addiction to alcohol and drug leads to physical and mental side effects. The common physical effects are cravings and withdrawal symptoms while the mental side effects encompass elevated stress levels, anxiety, depression, or feelings of loneliness.
For treatment to be effective, the focus should be on both the genetic and environmental reasons for the addiction. It should also include treatment that targets both the physical and mental side effects.
Counseling and therapy for addiction are geared to support the patient to first understand what causes addiction, and then learn to identify the factors that could lead to relapse and effectively use tools for coping with stressful situations.
Common techniques include cognitive behavioral therapy, motivational interviewing, and dialectical behavioral therapy.
Therapy often decreases in frequency and duration as a person learns to cope with the causes of his or her addiction and to handle life’s stressors.
Researchers and addiction specialists know that a person can’t completely recover from addiction. However, it is important that when a recovering addict experiences a traumatic event or stressful situation, they need to turn to therapy to reduce the possibility of relapse.
There are different approaches suitable for different people, depending on their age, type of addiction, and the factors that contributed to their addiction. This means addiction therapy is not a one-size-fits-all process.
The main purpose of counseling as part of addiction treatment is to address the root causes of the problem by preventing them from causing relapse. Although detox is an important piece of the treatment helping patients handle withdrawal and reduce cravings, it won’t address the issues and underlying reasons that caused the drug abuse problem in the first place.
Research during the last two to three decades helped to create behavioral therapies for alcohol and drug addiction. These therapies help in treating substance use disorders along with other co-occurring mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Counseling and behavioral therapies for drug and alcohol abuse is available in a range of settings. These include outpatient rehab programs, inpatient residential rehab centers, sober living facilities, private practices, and a number of support groups.
The role of counseling in drug and alcohol addiction rehab program is to prepare the patient towards maintaining recovery for life after the intensive treatment period is over. It is a fact that many patients need continued and ongoing counseling for several months or years after the intense rehab sessions are over.
Counseling generally is reduced in frequency and duration as the individual learns to successfully cope with the triggers for their addiction and to handle life’s stressors. At the same time, experts believe a person never fully recovers from addiction. So it is important that when recovering addicts experience a traumatic event or increased stress they should turn to therapy and counseling to reduce the chances of relapse.