What do addiction counselors do?
Therapists and clinicians who treat addiction
will conduct a comprehensive medical and psychiatric screening and then work to address both a person’s substance abuse or behavioral compulsion as well as any co-occurring physical or mental-health conditions. A patient’s family is typically asked to meet with counselors and take an active role in supporting their treatment program as well.
Who can diagnose addiction? An addiction can be diagnosed by a mental health professional who will determine if an individual is displaying symptoms such as using a substance (or engaging in an activity) longer than intended; continuing it despite its disruption of their personal or professional lives; feeling a strong craving for it; and experiencing withdrawal in its absence. A clinician will also gauge the severity of a patient’s addiction, and their desire to stop, before devising a treatment plan.
What is the best form of treatment for addiction?
Many therapists believe a patient’s commitment to change is more important than what type of therapy they select. Detoxification is typically prescribed as a foundational step, sometimes accompanied by medications to counter the use of addictive substances or treat underlying issues such as depression or anxiety. Cognitive behavioral therapy
sessions, as well as group therapy or peer-support programs and family therapy, often begin at the same time. Some patients work with individual therapists, while others work with a team at an outpatient clinic, and a smaller number commit to long-term residential facilities.
Can you overcome addiction with therapy? Substance use disorders are treatable and full remission is often achievable, although it may require a substantial commitment of time, and success may be gradual. Relapses are common enough to be seen by many therapists as a normal part of the process. People who subscribe to the so-called disease model of addiction view it is a lifelong condition that can never be “cured,” but for those who achieve remission of an addiction disorder for five years, research suggests, the likelihood of relapse is no greater than for the general population, and successful treatment has been found to reverse changes in brain circuitry that had made substance use so hard to control.