Substance Use

What Is an Addiction Counselor?

addiction counselor and client shaking hands

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Addiction Counselors: How They Can Help

Substance abuse counselors are mental health professionals who specialize in helping people overcome dependence on substances such as drugs and alcohol. Addiction counselors may also help with other forms of addiction, such as gambling. If you or a loved one are dealing with substance use disorders, seeing one of these specialized mental health counselors can help improve the recovery process and outcome.

Are you or someone you love dealing with drug abuse? Let Zinnia Health answer your questions in a caring, confidential phone call. Call our helpline 24/7 at (855) 430-9439 to speak with our team of addiction treatment specialists.

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What Does An Addiction Counselor Do?

Addiction counselors receive specialized training in substance abuse treatment, which may involve clinical experience, addiction fellowships, and special certifications. Addiction counselors may provide services in an inpatient or outpatient setting, such as a private practice or hospital.

Addiction counselors also work directly with individuals and their families to provide substance abuse counseling. Their responsibilities include:

  • Developing personalized treatment plans
  • Conducting individual, family, and group therapy sessions
  • Teaching coping skills to people in addiction recovery
  • Performing assessments for mental health disorders and related health challenges
  • Working with patients and their loved ones to prevent and treat relapse

Licensed addiction counselors must complete an advanced degree program, such as a master’s degree in social work, and maintain state licensing with regular board exams. The goal of an addiction counselor is to apply evidence-based treatments in a way that supports the individual on their unique recovery journey.

How Does Addiction Counseling Work?

Addiction counseling may take place within a residential treatment facility. In addition, these professionals may offer counseling services through support groups, private day clinics, or local hospitals. When a person starts seeing an addiction counselor, they may also be referred to other professionals, especially in the case of drug addiction.

Addiction counseling may involve:

The most important takeaway, if you’re considering working with an addiction counselor, is that they strive to tailor treatment plans to the needs of the individual rather than trying to apply a one-size-fits-all treatment to everyone. Specialized education and techniques are what make addiction counselors more effective than other healthcare providers when it comes to substance use disorder treatment.

If you or someone in your family suffers from substance abuse, help is available. Zinnia Health can connect you with answers and resources in your area. Speak to our team by calling (855) 430-9439 for a free, no-obligation conversation.

Types of Counseling

There are multiple types of counseling that addiction counselors can provide to individuals. They may specialize in just one area or provide an array of therapies, depending on the treatment plan they’re working on. The most common types of counseling include the following.

Motivational Interviewing

Motivational interviewing is often part of an addiction treatment plan, as it gives an addiction counselor the opportunity to identify a person’s underlying motivations for recovery and help them establish goals to work toward. This is typically one of the earliest steps in addiction treatment.

Since it’s often external factors that lead to a person ending up in detox or treatment centers, motivational interviewing plays a key role in helping them identify an intrinsic reason to continue with recovery and avoid relapse.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of one-on-one therapy where a person dealing with substance use disorder regularly meets with an addiction counselor. CBT is considered the most effective treatment for drug and alcohol addiction.

The goal of CBT is to help a person understand the underlying causes and triggers of substance use. CBT has been proven to reduce the use of addictive substances and improve quality of life in other areas.

Biofeedback and Neurofeedback

By showing an active display of a person’s vital signs, such as blood pressure, pulse, and respiration, an addiction counselor can use biofeedback and neurofeedback to understand a person’s response to various stimuli. In turn, these techniques can demonstrate a person’s physical response to addiction triggers, helping them control their impulses and emotions.

The goal of biofeedback and neurofeedback therapies is to change the compulsive behavior that feeds addiction to minimize substance use and the risk of relapse. These therapies can also help a person work through the complex emotions that come with withdrawal and recovery.

Dialectal Behavioral Therapy (DBT)

Dialectal behavioral therapy (DBT) is another evidence-based treatment method similar to CBT. By teaching coping strategies, DBT helps an individual learn how to manage distress and uncomfortable emotions, so they can regulate their mood and thoughts, allowing them to replace compulsive behaviors with healthier habits.

Since stress tolerance is often very low during the recovery period, DBT can provide strength to an individual when they need it most. In addition to drug and alcohol treatment, DBT is also beneficial for eating disorders and gambling addiction.

Meditation and Mindfulness

Meditation and mindfulness are types of therapy often employed to help a person remain centered throughout the recovery process, especially if they are undergoing withdrawal without medication or once medication-assisted treatment concludes.

By using meditation and mindfulness, a person can learn to regulate their emotions even when not in the presence of a counselor, which is essential for avoiding relapse. Mindfulness techniques can also help with self-reflection, allowing an individual to stay focused on their intrinsic reasons for getting clean and remain motivated to continue the recovery process.

How to Find an Addiction Counselor Near You

If you or someone you love would benefit from addiction counseling, there are a few ways to get connected with the appropriate medical professional.

  • Look for detox centers that employ addiction counselors. Call (855) 430-9439 to get connected with resources in your area.
  • Ask your primary care physician for a referral to an addiction treatment specialist. They can discuss your options, including inpatient or residential care.
  • Screen addiction counselors to look for a proper fit. Some use spiritual and religious foundations in their methods, while others take a more scientific approach, so make sure you find someone who resonates with you.

Do you need help finding addiction experts in your area? Our specialists at Zinnia Health are on your side. Dial our 24/7 helpline at (855) 430-9439 to have a free, confidential conversation with our team of addiction specialists and get connected with resources in your area.

Call us
Ready to get help?
(855) 430-9439
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