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As a public health and safety crisis, substance abuse impacts more lives in the United States per year than the most common forms of cancer. In 2018, 21.2 million people in the U.S. aged 12 or older needed substance use treatment. However, only 1.4% of people within this age demographic (3.7 million people) received treatment for substance abuse that year. Clinical intervention for drug and alcohol abuse disorders can be vital to preventing potentially fatal consequences and encouraging growth and personal accountability.

One of the most important aspects of the treatment process is drug addiction counseling. As a disorder affecting the mind and body, failing to address the mental and emotional aspects of substance abuse may leave one vulnerable to relapse. Access to addiction counseling services is instrumental to combatting the substance abuse epidemic affecting all areas of the United States. 

What is Drug Addiction Counseling? 

Addiction counseling is a form of evidence-based therapeutic treatment geared toward resolving the underlying causes of drug and alcohol abuse. Through drug addiction counseling services, one is able to uncover and address the root causes of substance use.  Certified addiction counselors assist clients to overcome destructive behaviors and facilitate the healing process. Seeing as it’s a lifelong condition, having a thorough understanding of its causes and effects is key. 

Drug addiction can be corrosive––affecting all aspects of one’s life. Counseling, however, can help individuals address affected areas and find tangible solutions. In essence, counseling helps restore hope and guides clients to a place of stability.

Why Addiction Recovery Requires Counseling 

Drug addiction is a problem that supersedes physical treatment. Even after going through medical detoxification and ridding your body of physical dependence, you can still be psychologically and emotionally vulnerable. For this reason, it's imperative that the behavioral and psychological motivations behind drug use are explored and addressed during the treatment process. This is where drug addiction counseling can be a saving grace. Through counseling, triggers can be identified and healthy coping mechanisms can be learned. Developing the right life skills could make coping with daily struggles easier. 

Causes of Addiction

While the cause of addiction can’t be isolated to a single factor, it is typically triggered by changes in the brain. Drugs are composed of various chemicals and almost all target the brain’s reward system. When consumed, they alter the way the brain’s nerve cells send, receive, and process information. The three primary ways it achieves this end is by: 

  • Overstimulating the brain’s reward circuit
  • Pumping the brain with excessive amounts of chemicals 
  • Binding to the brain’s receptors 

The changes result in an overwhelming amount of dopamine––a neurotransmitter that creates feelings of pleasure––in the brain also referred to as a “high”. In a bid to repeat this feeling, individuals often begin abusing drugs. To adapt to the surges of dopamine caused by the drugs, the brain begins producing less natural dopamine. This explains why people who battle drug addiction can experience bouts of depression when they stop using or find it challenging to derive pleasure from things they once used to. 

Over time, they may also develop a higher tolerance level for the drugs they abuse in attempts to sustain a “high”. Even if they aren’t able to achieve the euphoria they’re after, ceasing to use drugs could lead to severe withdrawal symptoms because their body has become dependent. At this point, a combination of medically assisted detox and drug addiction counseling is usually the only way out. 

Changes in the brain aside, there are risk factors that make some more susceptible to addiction than others. Below are common risk factors to be mindful of.

Family History 

Genetic predisposition can greatly influence whether an individual develops an addiction. It’s been found that certain genetics can speed up disease progression. For this reason, someone who has a family member with substance use disorder is more at risk of developing one too. Research shows that 40 to 60 percent of the risk of developing an Alcohol Use Disorder can be attributed to genetics in comparison to the environment. For substances like nicotine and cocaine, those statistics go up to 60 to 80 percent. That said, just because certain genetic predispositions make one susceptible to addiction, it doesn’t make it inevitable. 

External Environment

One’s environment can play a major role in whether they develop an addiction. Social circles, parental support, work stress, and past traumas, for example, could all lead an individual down a path to substance abuse. In drug addiction counseling, such factors can be uncovered and better understood. In doing so, counselors can help clients find effective ways to manage triggers.  

Existing Mental Health Conditions 

Comorbidity (the presence of two or more chronic conditions concurrently) is common amongst people with addiction. This is because a mental health condition can lead to substance abuse and vice versa. Someone with anxiety, for instance, may self-medicate with drugs and that could lead to substance abuse. In similar regard, substance abuse could contribute to an individual developing depression. Also, people with conditions like depression, ADHD, or post-traumatic stress disorder are at higher risk of becoming addicted to drugs. 

Individual Therapy Modalities

Individual therapy is one of the cornerstones of personalized treatment. It allows each client the opportunity to receive trauma-informed care that examines all of their mental, emotional, and psychological needs. Below are two of the most common individual therapies offered for addiction clients. 

Dialectical-Behavioral Therapy (DBT): Dialectical-Behavioral therapy is when cognitive and behavioral therapies are combined with the aim of reversing negative thinking patterns and behaviors. Within the context of addiction recovery, DBT can help individuals better understand their struggles and regulate their emotions. By setting clearly defined goals and incorporating mindfulness into the recovery process, clients are less likely to turn to maladaptive coping strategies when triggers arise.

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT): This type of talk therapy is facilitated by mental health counselors and can be transformative for clients who battle addiction. It is a means of making individuals more self-aware through the process of identifying negative thinking patterns and behaviors. The premise of this modality is that by correcting negative thoughts and beliefs, you can respond more positively to challenging situations. For the most part, it should help clients get better at jumping over obstacles life throws their way.

Group Therapy Options 

Peer support is an integral aspect of recovery. For this reason, it is often offered as a part of addiction recovery services. Knowing people are enduring similar struggles can provide the comfort and understanding people trying to overcome addiction often need. For this reason, group therapy tends to be combined with individual therapy. This well-rounded approach ensures clients get the best chance at holistic healing.

Family and Couples Counseling

The people a person with addiction spends the most time with can have the most monumental effects on their recovery. In light of this, family and couple’s addiction counseling services are often encouraged. If clients are undergoing individual therapy but still have to go home and face dysfunctional family members or partners––it can be counterproductive. 

Family and couples counseling, gives everyone the opportunity to get on the same page. It’s a safe space for all parties to better understand the nature of addiction, how to set and uphold healthy boundaries, and also how to identify one another’s triggers. This sets the stage for healthy communication between loved ones, which is fundamental for long-term recovery. Sessions can be held in person or online depending on which is more convenient for all parties involved. 

Recreational Therapy

Addiction recovery treatment can seem like a dreary and morbid affair. However, this shouldn’t be the case as clients should feel inspired and motivated to rebuild their lives. One way of achieving balance is by offering recreational therapy. This treatment enables clients to have fun and re-discover activities that bring them joy and fulfillment. It differs from other addiction counseling services as it uses recreation to address your addiction recovery needs. 

They will need such activities when they complete treatment and have to recommence daily activities. Recreational therapy teaches clients how to socialize, engage with others, and enjoy fun activities without using drugs or alcohol. It can be a healthy outlet that serves as a form of escapism when temptation or challenges arise. 

Continuing Care Group 

Once clients have completed their treatment plans, they still have access to support. Continuing care groups ensure they aren’t abandoned and left to figure out next steps on their own. The reality is that addiction is a lifelong battle, so support is needed on an ongoing basis––even after clients have begun experiencing palpable changes. Through continuing care, they have access to resources, counseling, skills training, and 12-step programs. By building a safety net around them, clients have a better chance of achieving long-term sobriety. 

How Niznik Behavioral Health Can Help 

Niznik Behavioral Health (NBH) is a nationwide service provider of drug addiction counseling. We provide a full continuum of care, seeing clients through the entire recovery process from start to finish. 

We believe in a holistic approach to treatment, thus providing modalities that tackle the physical and psychological effects of addiction. Our evidence-based treatments take the unique needs and vulnerabilities of each client into consideration so we can achieve the best results possible. 

Licensed to practice in fields of mental health and addiction, our counselors calibrate a personalized treatment plan for every client that comes through our doors. At NBH, we also take a  multi-modal approach to therapy, ensuring no underlying causes are left unaddressed. By combining multiple therapy modalities, the chances of full recovery increase. 

We understand that consistency is critical for long-term recovery, so make treatment as accessible as possible through the provision of on-site and telehealth services. This ensures clients can attend counseling sessions without obstacles like logistics or long commutes interfering. 

If you or someone you know needs addiction counseling services, contact us today––don’t wait. Our team is ready to answer any questions you have and help you build a stable and healthy life free of addiction. 

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