Counselling and Addiction
Kicking the addiction is a major accomplishment. But for most people, quitting is only the beginning of a long-term battle against craving and relapse.
Counseling is an essential part of treatment for many people. Cognitive behavioral therapy, family counseling, and other therapy approaches can help people staying clean. Psychotherapy can also treat the other mental health conditions that often contribute to addiction.
Why Counseling Is Important in Addiction Treatment
Addiction is more than a physical dependence on drugs. Even after detox, when physical dependence is cured, addicts are at high risk for relapse. Psychological and social factors are often powerful stimuli for relapse. For example:
• Stress, especially sudden life stresses
• Cues in the environment, like visiting a neighborhood
• Social networks, like spending time with friends who continue to use drugs
These factors can create ongoing, nearly irresistible urges to use drugs.
Counseling helps addicts escape craving and learn to cope with life, without using drugs. Several counseling therapies are available for addiction, and no method is known to be the best. The right drug abuse treatment plan is tailored to a person’s addiction and his or her individual needs.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive behavioral therapy teaches a person how to recognize moods, thoughts, and situations that cause drug craving. A therapist helps the person avoid these triggers, and replace negative thoughts and feelings with ones that are healthier.
The skills learned in cognitive behavioral therapy can last a lifetime, making it a potentially powerful method of drug abuse treatment. However, not all therapists are trained in cognitive behavioral therapy techniques, which can be complex.
Contingency Management Therapy
In contingency management therapy, a person in drug abuse treatment receives positive incentives for staying clean. Vouchers for goods and services, or privileges in a more rigid treatment setting are common incentives. Contingency management therapy is effective in drug rehab studies. But skeptics point out its high costs, and that when incentives stop, its positive effects decline.
Traditional therapies for drug abuse treatment involved confrontation. Addicts are masters of denial, the thinking went, and therapy should break down walls to force them to accept the reality of their addiction.
While confrontation may still have a role, many therapists instead promote motivational interviewing, a newer counseling method. In motivational interviewing, a therapist seeks to understand and enhance an addicted person’s natural motivation for change. For example, if the person reveals he is motivated by love of his family, or returning to work, these may become the focus of therapy.
Couples and Family Therapy
Addiction don’t only affect the user’s life; the whole family is transformed. Strong relationships with family and friends are essential for successful drug abuse treatment. Various counseling methods include the spouse and other family members of the addicted person.
There are several potential benefits of family or couples therapy:
• Family members can act as a powerful force for change in the addicted person’s life.
• Including family members can increase the likelihood a person will stay in therapy.
• Each family member can begin to heal the damage their loved one’s addiction has caused in their own life.
Studies show family therapy results in lower relapse rates, increased happiness in the family, and better functioning in children of addicted parents.