The lifelong journey of living in recovery is one that should not be taken alone. Overcoming a harmful habit, whether it’s substance abuse or a gambling addiction, may require a plethora of treatment modalities. Without question, counseling should be one of them.
What is Addiction?
Addictions are more than just pesky bad habits. They’re behaviors we perpetuate even when we know there are harmful consequences to ourselves and others. Addiction can be both chemical and behavioral.
Corner Canyon Counseling, a practice in Utah, sees patients living with all types of addictions. Whether it’s related to eating disorders, drugs, or alcohol, the signs of addiction may be as follows:
- Difficulty sleeping
- Drastic changes in appearance
- Loss of interest in activities
Addiction is a disease, and the biology of the addiction needs to be understood to treat it. To learn more about who is prone to addiction, and the biology behind it, read Corner Canyon’s blog article HERE.
What’s the Point of Therapy?
A counselor who specializes in substance abuse and addiction forms a trusting relationship with a patient to offer support and resources on the road of recovery. In short, since addiction is a lifelong disease, therapy provides the support needed to find continued sobriety.
Many insurance companies will cover some, if not all, out-patient therapy costs. Another option is virtual consultations available from different medical professionals including online suboxone doctors who can help you aid your opioid use disorder (OUD).
A therapist can not only teach skills for coping with life after addiction, but serve as an ally who advocates for the right medication and treatment modalities a patient needs. When dealing with addiction, the point of therapy is to understand triggers and learn to cope with them in more healthy ways.
Scientifically validated tactics are employed when a patient undergoes therapy with a counselor. There are a variety of approaches for therapy:
- Cognitive Behavioral
- Dialectical Behavioral
- Talk Therapy
Family and Friends Counseling
Did you know therapy isn’t just for the person who is working on overcoming their addiction? There are also support groups for people who are affected by someone else’s addiction. Loved ones may have a lot to deal with as a result of watching a person live with repeated substance abuse problems and can benefit from having a counselor and peers to talk to.
Additionally, attending therapy with the person in recovery can help broaden understanding of what the other person is going through. It can help set boundaries to aid in recovery, both for the abuser and those in their circle.
Individual Versus Group Therapy
WebMD suggests that group therapy is often more beneficial for addicts than individual therapy. It provides a jury of peers, so to say, that both support a patient in recovery, and call them out on their missteps.
While 12-step programs offer group meetings, they are not technically classified as group therapy. Groups such as these can be extremely helpful, but they’re not led by trained counselors. While the benefits may be long-lasting, there isn’t a person comparable to a therapist who can pivot treatment if the need arises.
Out-Patient Versus In-Patient
While in recovery, patients can receive out-patient or in-patient treatment. Residential therapy removes a person from their environment and houses them onsite for detox, therapy, and other treatment deemed necessary. In-patient residential therapy can be weeks or months long, and the cost is not always covered by insurance.
Out-patient therapy is administered to patients who come and go from the treatment facility, whether it’s a hospital or a therapist’s office. Many insurance companies will cover some, if not all, out-patient therapy costs.
What Therapy Teaches Patients
Depending on the type of addiction, and what may have triggered it, therapy will teach patients a variety of things about themselves, and the skills they need to develop to stay sober. Typically, an addiction counselor will help a patient:
- Understand the root cause of addiction
- Stay motivated to maintain sobriety
- Build confidence
- Identify triggers (peers, circumstances)
- Learn coping skills to avoid addictive substance/behavior
- Learn to heal from negative health impacts of addiction
- Regain trusted relationships with self and others
- Ask for forgiveness when necessary
Since chemical abuse can lead to health problems, a therapist can recommend activities or supplements that aid in recovery. Products such as SOLbriety supplements are intended to address both moderate and severe cases of body and brain damage sustained during addiction. A portion of SOLbriety’s proceeds goes to the Solida foundation, which offers scholarships to those who are in need of costly residential treatment.
What Do You Do in Therapy?
So what, specifically, do you do in therapy? Depending on the facility and the counselor, actual practices can vary. Often, counseling in recovery will include the following:
- Relaxation or meditation
- Breathing techniques
- Art therapy
- Role playing
The course of action in each session usually revolves around a specific problem and how you can work together to solve it. Homework may be assigned so a patient can continue working on skills after their time with the therapist concludes for the day.
Counseling for recovery will also include a prevention plan. Because 40% to 60% of adults will relapse in their recovery, it’s important to have a contingency plan to help patients get back on the road to success. Since relapse is known to be common, it’s not a sign of failure; it may mean that something isn’t currently working in the treatment plan, or just that we’re all human and we make mistakes.
A prevention plan is customized to each person in recovery, but it should include the following:
- History of the patient’s substance abuse/addiction
- What triggers the patient’s abuse
- Warning signs the patient is using/engaging in addictive behavior
- Patient’s support network
- Lifestyle changes that can support recovery
- Backup plan for continuing with recovery (change of treatment, in-patient enrollment, etc…)
How Therapy is Different Than Talking to a Friend
Even if you’re fortunate enough to have the most loving family members and friends, talking to them is not the same as talking to a therapist. A therapist has received training on how to remain an objective listener; this can be difficult to find in a loved one who has lived through a person’s substance abuse periods.
A therapist also has scientifically backed treatment modalities to offer in addition to an unbiased ear. How many of your friends and family members have the same credentials to help you overcome your addiction? Through therapy with a counselor, mental health issues may be identified thanks to the counselor’s experience in their field. This can lead to better treatment for addiction as it relates to illnesses such as bipolar disorder, depression, or chronic anxiety.
Professional therapy can help the most-strong-willed and determined person find success in sobriety. Don’t hesitate to seek help for yourself or a loved one if you see any signs of addiction.