Addiction has been one of the leading socio-ethical debates in the past few decades. It has also been the fundamental cause of several branches of treatment and rehabilitation in medical and psychological fields. While new medications, advancements in treatment procedures, and the increased accessibility to addiction counseling have made it easier to battle addiction, the harmful consequences of substance abuse still linger.
What is addiction?
The American Psychiatric Association terms addiction as a brain disease. It is the obsessive use of a detrimental product like drugs or alcohol. Victims of addiction are aware of all the harm they are doing to their mental and physical health, but they are unable to stop themselves from indulging in the substance that is causing said harm.
Some common treatment methods
Complete treatment includes being able to stop using drugs, prevent relapses, and help the victim become a contributing member of society again. Treatment is not a rigid process. It is different for everyone, and what perfectly works for a person might not have any effect on another. However, some standard methods included in almost every treatment plan are controlled medication, withdrawal treatment, counseling, and frequent checkups to avoid relapses.
Why is counseling necessary?
Tracking progress: Along with the administration of medicines, counseling is essential to track the progress a patient has been making. It is an effective way to judge how well a patient is adjusting and reacting to certain treatment methods.
Easing the transition: As an addict, a patient has been away from the functions of society for a while. Therefore, it is tough to readjust to a normal personal or professional life. A therapist can help with this transition as a patient is reintroduced to family life or a job.
Accelerated recovery: A therapist builds a relationship of trust and support with the patient, which consequently encourages quick recovery. The connection of understanding and affirmation motivates a patient to become clean.
Dealing with the mental consequences of substance abuse: Apart from causing harm to physical health, addiction is also responsible for an addict’s deteriorating mental health. Counseling can help deal with a lot of these issues as well as design a long term recovery plan that suits the patient. It can also enable the patient to fend off negative thoughts and fight the urge to abuse a substance again.
Learning acceptance: Counseling is essential to ingrain feelings of self-acceptance in a patient. This is especially true for group therapy sessions, where meeting other victims of addiction can help a patient develop feelings of tolerance and understanding for not only others but also for themself.
Who should get addiction counseling?
As mentioned above, counseling is essential for addicts in recovery. It not only helps with the recovery process but also allows an addict to set and achieve long term goals. It is also crucial for managing and preventing relapses. Counseling can also prove fruitful for people who have completed their treatment but still mentally struggle with regrets or the lingering effects of their addiction.
Furthermore, some therapists offer family counseling services. This kind of counseling helps not only the addict but also their loved ones. It allows them to deal with their stress and frustration, and also work to fix the damage caused to their relationship with the addict due to substance abuse.
Types of addiction counseling
There are various options and approaches to counseling based on the needs of a patient. However, two common types of therapy that entail several sub-branches are:
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy: Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, also known as CBT, is centered on feelings and emotions. These emotions, if left uncontrolled can lead to destructive behaviors. CBT focuses on learning the causes and circumstances that pushed an individual toward addiction, and their feelings and thoughts after using drugs. This approach helps victims find flaws in their perception and recognize the negative thoughts that take the concrete shape of actions.
Dialectical Behavioural Therapy: Dialectical Behavioural Therapy, or DBT, is similar to CBT to an extent, but delves in deeper to address mental issues that an addict might have. DBT recognizes that addiction comes from a place of being invalidated or living in a non-ideal environment that gives rise to emotional vulnerability. Therefore, an addict may have several accompanying mental health issues. DBT focuses on addressing illnesses like anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder.
How to support a loved one through their recovery process?
Seeing a loved one become a victim of addiction is heartbreaking. But supporting them through their treatment and even after their recovery is essential. Here is how you can do it:
Educate yourself: Read, research, and learn more about addiction and counseling. Acquaint yourself with treatment options, support groups, and anything else that you might find helpful. Learn the complexities of substance abuse and how to avoid common triggers. Instead of nagging a victim about things they probably already regret, show them that you are invested in their recovery.
Be realistic: Expect things to go wrong sometimes, because they will. You cannot expect an addict to become clean in weeks or win all the fights against their urges. Recovery takes time and effort, so don’t shy away from investing that.
Treat them with respect: Despite their addiction, they are still the person you love. Instead of demonizing them, treat them with respect, and encourage them to be the person you know they can be.
Create a safe environment: Create a safe, judgment-free environment where they can grow and become better.
Encourage substance abstinence: Get rid of all addictive substances within access. Help them focus on productive activities and adopt a strictly sober lifestyle. This is particularly useful for people who have completed their recovery process but are at risk of a relapse.
The battle against addiction is long and hard, and with the hurdles imposed by not only societal pressure but also self, it becomes more challenging. However, with enough help, support, perseverance, and determination, it is inevitable to break free from compulsive drug abuse or addiction.