How Does Addiction Counseling Fit into Addiction Treatment?

If you were undergoing kidney dialysis to save your life, would you be able to hook yourself up to the dialysis machine, set the machinery in motion, and complete the dialysis without the help of a nurse or physician? If you suffered from bipolar disorder (manic depression), would you be able to prescribe for yourself exactly the right medication in exactly the right dose, then draw you own blood and perform laboratory tests on yourself to make sure your medication dose isn’t putting your life in danger?

Of course not. In both situations, you would need the assistance of a skilled medical expert. In comparison, if you seek help for addiction treatment, you need high-quality addiction counseling. You can’t counsel yourself. Physicians don’t treat themselves for an illness or injury, nor do mental health professionals counsel themselves if a crisis occurs in their lives. Addiction treatment and recovery depends highly upon addiction counseling because of the intense denial and underlying emotional distress often experienced by addicts. Again, medical treatment for a sexually transmitted disease is only half-complete unless you receive counseling about how to avoid this problem in the future.

Once you enter addiction treatment, your goal will be to live your life drug and/or alcohol-free. Treatment is difficult, something you only want to do once. To achieve this goal, addiction counseling gives you a once-in-a-lifetime chance to determine how your substance abuse began, and why it continued to the point of severely impacting your life and your health. You counselor does not have these answers, but you do. Addiction counseling helps you find these answers within yourself, where they have always been but were distorted because of your addiction. Drug rehab centers and programs depend heavily on addiction counseling to help you get sober and stay sober. Medical research by the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) clearly indicates that becoming substance-free is only half of the battle; achieving life-long abstinence is very difficult without the help and support of an addiction counselor. In fact, many addicts in recovery choose to continue Aftercare counseling to avoid relapsing.

Addiction treatment is not about constantly re-hashing all the things you regret doing or saying when you were using. It’s not about heaping blame and guilt upon yourself over your past mistakes. Addiction counseling uses your past experiences as merely lessons that you can learn from, rather than repeat in the future. Many addicts find themselves doing the same thing repeatedly, and expecting a different outcome. Your addiction counselor can help you learn that when you use drugs and/or alcohol, the same thing will always happen: something negative will be the consequences of your actions. No one plays for free.

Addiction counseling is an essential component in your recovery and rehabilitation. Without counseling, it is difficult, if not impossible, to learn to understand how you arrived at this point, and how to walk this difficult path only once.