Deciding to give up an addiction habit, whether it is prescription drugs, street drugs or alcohol, is the very first step in a long and complex journey. 

Most addicts cannot just give up. After recognizing they have a problem and then detoxing, addiction counselling plays a key role in recovery.

Even when the physical dependence on the drugs or alcohol has gone, the psychological side of recovery puts addicts at very high risk of relapse, and this is where addiction counselling is key. Stress, mixing with friends who are still using, visiting places that are linked to their addiction, and milestones in the year are all triggers for relapse. Counselling will help addicts to recognize the triggers and develop tools to get through the cravings and cope difficult situations.

The demand for addiction counsellors is growing and the number of counsellors needed to support addiction is set to increase by 31 per cent in the next 10 years.  

Why Does An Addict Need An Addiction Counsellor? 

Addiction counsellors offer a safe and judgement free support system for addicts. Change is obviously in the hands of the patients, but a counsellor will help guide them through their treatment plan and recovery. An independent and professional approach usually helps addicts to feel comfortable discussing their fears and issues around recovery and relapse away from friends and family.

Addiction counsellors often work separately with friends and family of clients to help guide them through the process. The support of the friends and family network plays a big part in someone’s recovery. The counsellor can help them to understand what might trigger relapses, how to deal with it and how to keep their loved ones accountable to their recovery programs. As many people trying to support an addict might not have experience of addiction, this process really helps friends and family to understand and deal with what is going on and what will happen on the complex journey ahead.                            

There are lots of different types of therapy and each individual has to choose the right approach for them. Everyone thinks and behaves differently, everyone deals with situations in their own way, so it makes sense that there is not a ‘one size fits all’ approach to addiction therapy – it must be tailor-made. 

Group and individual therapy sessions are the most common treatments for those with addiction. Sessions like this help addicts to learn the skills they need to get clean and stay clean. They will teach people how to navigate situations that might normally cause them to relapse. 

Finding the right behavioural therapy

There are different types of behavioural therapy that addicts can choose to explore. 

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT), Motivational Interviewing (MI), Dialectal Behavioural Therapy (DBT), EMDR, Wilderness Therapy, 12 Step Facilitation Therapy and the Matrix Model are all forms of therapy that are used by addiction counsellors and psychotherapists. 

CBT is a form of psychotherapy that helps people to identify, understand and change habits and behaviours.

REBT is thought to be the original CBT. It helps people to identify irrational beliefs and thoughts that can lead to drug or alcohol use and addiction. 

MI is when counsellors motivate their patients to maintain abstinence from drugs or alcohol. If people are motivated by love, family or work, then this approach is very powerful and the counsellor will use these motivations to drive change. 

DBT is usually used for people who are suicidal or those who self-harm. The treatment includes group sessions, individual psychotherapy, over the phone coaching and an ongoing support from a team of therapists and counsellors. It 

teaches addicts mindfulness and helps them to deal with a negative thought pattern that could lead to a relapse, including activities such as yoga.

EMDR is way to desensitize the brain to traumatic and upsetting events. Therapists will use EMDR to help address the reason that their patients are turning to drugs or alcohol and usually works alongside other therapies. 

Wilderness Therapy is used when counsellors have tried other forms of treatment, and patients have not been receptive. The idea is that nature and survival skills in an unfamiliar outdoor setting will help people focus on self-improvement and develop coping skills. 

12-Step Facilitation Therapy is used in group meetings such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous and helps addicts to focus on abstinence over the long term.

The Matrix Model is a variety of different therapies combined. It is focused upon rewarding good behaviour and promoting self-esteem, dignity and self-worth. It focuses on relapse prevention and family and group therapy. 

There are lots of complementary therapies that sit well alongside counselling and counsellors will recommend activities like exercise, meditation, yoga and massage to support recovery. All these activities promote stress reduction without relying on a substance.

Even equine therapy has been found to help significantly. In fact, when horses are involved in the treatment plan, people stay on recovery programs longer and are more likely to finish their treatment.

Addiction can impact anyone and many celebrities have admitted battling addiction. Some of the famous names who have used counselling and therapy as part of their recovery include Martin Sheen, Jamie Lee Curtis, Robert Downey Jr, Robin Williams, Drew Barrymore, Elton John and Anthony Hopkins.