Is Substance Abuse Counseling Really Necessary?
Today, substance abuse counseling is more important than ever. There are more people using and being exposed to drugs and more drugs being created each and every day. The destructive potential in an individual’s life are limitless. The SAMHSA’s 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health reports an estimated 24.6 million individuals aged 12 or older were current illicit drug users in 2013″ and “60.1 million individuals aged 12 or older were past month binge drinkers.”
Although many people view substance abuse as a moral choice that can be stopped with the right amount of willpower, there are other factors at play that most people never understand. Contributing fallouts are neurochemical changes in the brain, spiritual emptiness or meaninglessness, and/or the distress of physical or mental health disorders that plague substance abusers in their every day routines. With many different perspectives on causes, influences, behaviors, and treatments of substance abuse, the one thing that remains constant is that substance abuse counseling is really necessary if the individual expects to achieve long-term recovery.
Importance of Substance Abuse Counseling
Every individual is different with different experiences, goals, and consequential impacts from their substance abuse. Influential factors can increase or decrease a person’s willingness to enter treatment and continue to affect their recovery motivations long after treatment is over. Most substance abusers will go on to using secondary substances after becoming dependent on a primary substance that impairs their physical, psychological, or emotional health and their ability to function with normalcy in society.
Substance abuse counseling is one of the most beneficial resources an individual can receive to identify problematic areas in their life and enhance their motivations to change. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “When delivered effectively, behavioral treatments, such as individual counseling, group or family counseling, contingency management, and cognitive behavioral therapies, also can help patients improve their personal relationships and their ability to function at work and in the community.”
Types of Substance Abuse Counseling
Substance abuse counseling is a form of talk therapy where, according to the NIDA, “patients address issues of motivation, build skills to resist drug use, replace drug-using activities with constructive and rewarding nondrug-using activities, and improve problem-solving abilities. There are several types of substance abuse counseling with the most common including individual, group, and family counseling.
Individual counseling focuses on the unique needs of the individual and may include:
- Providing support and guidance to eliminate substance abuse
- Identifying and removing barriers to treatment participation and retention
- Providing motivational enhancement for positive changes in lifestyle
- Monitoring other problematic behaviors, reviewing treatment plans, and ensuring compliance
- Identifying acute needs such as the existence of a crisis or how to address critical issues including homelessness, legal, employment, family, medical, and social services
- Identifying goals and reasonable timeframes with progress reviews, modifications, and support as needed
- Reviewing how the patient feels, copes with cravings, and linking them to the appropriate resources and psychosocial services that can help to improve treatment outcomes.
Group counseling, according to the SAMHSA, has some advantages over individual counseling and therapy.” It offers the chance to solve problems commonly experienced by substance abusers with greater insight and reduced senses of isolation “by providing feedback from peers, social skill training and practice, structure, discipline, and encouragement.”
Family counseling is quickly becoming recognized as an essential part of the treatment plan to encourage restoration of relationships and the rebuilding of support that substance abusers need, yet, often lose, because of neglect and/or abuse. According to the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment, “The effects of substance abuse frequently extend beyond the nuclear family. Extended family members may experience feelings of abandonment, anxiety, fear, anger, concern, embarrassment, or guilt; they may wish to ignore or cut ties with the person abusing substances.”
Benefits of Substance Abuse Counseling
According to The National Alliance of Advocates for Buprenorphine Treatment, “Counseling/therapy helps the patient rebuild relationships, repair finances, get a job, assume family responsibilities, decrease stress, anxiety and depression, and helps the patient make other meaningful changes in their lives that will allow them to achieve and maintain addiction remission.”
The benefits of substance abuse counseling are far reaching with some key components that may include:
- Education about the effects of substance abuse and the dangerous risks involved
- Introduction and assistance in participating in a mutual-help group such as Narcotics Anonymous (NA) or Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)
- Education about relapse triggers and prevention strategies
- Assistance in complying with program regulations and rules
- Providing incentives for abstinence
- Improving problem solving skills
- Assistance in developing healthy and productive changes such as replacing drug abuse activities with those that reward confidence, integrity, and values
- Case management – facilitating comprehensive care between counselors, medical, psychiatric, and psychosocial services to gain the most recovery advantages
- Facilitating better interpersonal relationships