How Can Counseling Help in Your Addiction Recovery?

Teodora Ghiur on Sep 30, 2021 in Mood and Feelings

What is an Addiction Counselor?

Addiction counselors are qualified mental health professionals who specialize in treating various addictive disorders (e.g., substance use disorders, gambling, shopping, internet, sex addiction, etc.). They help individuals who wish to engage in a recovery process break the habits and behaviors that maintain their addiction symptoms. Counselors provide interventions, techniques and coping strategies that help those with a history of addiction improve their emotional regulation skills and reduce their addiction related behaviors. In this article, you will have the chance to get more information on the benefits of counseling during various stages of addiction recovery. You can also learn how to recognize the signs and symptoms of addiction and find out how therapy can help you break free from this condition.

The Main Signs and Symptoms of Addiction

Although the symptoms of an addictive disorder can vary from person to person, it is important to know which signs to look out for if you think someone you know might struggle with this condition.

Addiction can manifest in chronic isolation from people and activities one used to enjoy - for example, people who become addicted tend to retreat from their social life because of the fear of being judged and stigmatized, but also because they prefer to indulge in their addictive behaviors. You can also recognize addiction by someone’s difficulty to reduce or cut out a certain behavior or substance despite their willingness - for example, if you know someone who wants to reduce their smoking or alcohol related behaviors but fail to do so, this might be a sign that they suffer from an addiction.

Another cue that could point to a potential addictive disorder is a significant change in someone’s mood and behavior. Addiction alters the brain regions responsible for mood, behavior, and emotional regulation. When someone attempts to live without the object of their addiction (alcohol, shopping, internet, etc) they experience a significant dip in their mood, which is what makes them engage in the same behavior again and again.

Similarly, addicted individuals can also report a change in their sleeping and eating patterns, a decrease in their work performance and cognitive abilities, as well as co-morbid mental health conditions such as stress, depression, anxiety, etc.

What Can You Do If You Think You Are Addicted

If you think you might suffer from this condition, the best thing you can do is seek help as soon as you can. If you are nervous about talking to a loved one due to a fear of being judged, you can speak to your doctor or ask for a referral to a mental health counselor. Similarly, you can also find addiction counselors in your area directly and talk to them about a treatment plan.

Since addictive disorders can feel highly distressing, talking to a specialist in treating this condition can offer you relief and reassurance. It is also important to keep in mind that, unlike talking to a work colleague or friend, counselors keep all your personal information private and offer you a non-judgemental, accepting, and objective perspective.

What Does Addiction Feel Like?

Addiction can be a terribly lonely mental health condition. In many cases, some individuals start engaging in chronic addictive habits in an attempt to escape painful feelings of loneliness. As addiction becomes chronic, individuals might find that they feel more and more isolated and removed from social settings.

Addiction can also manifest in unpleasant emotional and behavioral consequences, such as reduced motivation, impaired sleep, decreased mental functioning and shortened attention span. These have a negative impact on all areas of someone’s life, such as job, family, and social life.

Case Study

“Jan is a successful business professional. She was recently offered a new job in a big enterprise and felt very stressed and overwhelmed with her work. Jan soon found herself opening a bottle of wine to relax after work. Unfortunately, this habit soon got out of control: as Jan felt more stressed and overwhelmed with her professional duties, she needed more and more alcohol to cope with the unbearable emotions. Jan recognizes her problem but is unable to stop drinking by herself - she feels as though this habit has total control over her emotions and decisions, and feels hopeless and distressed. She is now working with a counselor to work through her alcohol dependency issues and learn to manage uncomfortable emotions without alcohol.”

How Can a Therapist Help Me with My Addiction?

Counselors and other mental health professionals like therapists, psychologists and mental health nurses have the knowledge, education, and expertise to help you recognize the underlying causes of addiction and implement behavioral changes that decrease the frequency of addiction related behaviors.

They can work with you on several aspects of your addiction disorders, such as:

  • Identifying the causes that lead to addiction, such as past trauma, loss and grief, poor emotional regulation skills, loneliness, an abusive relationship, etc.

  • Map out an intervention plan that helps you reduce addictive behaviors - this can include practical exercises that you can do at home, implementing coping strategies for various stressful situations, coping with the stressors in your life, etc.

  • Reduce the likelihood of future relapses. In a counseling and therapy process, clients learn emotional management strategies that can help them recognize the signs of a potential relapse.

How do I Help my Significant Other/ Friend/ Loved One with Their Addiction?

Discovering the news about a loved one’s addiction problem can be highly distressing and upsetting. People can experience an intense emotional rollercoaster and a combination of anger, frustration, and pity for the addicted loved one. However, if you find that a loved one suffers from addiction, the best thing you can do is stay calm and approach them with an empathic, understanding, and non-judgement attitude.

Try avoiding giving advice or forcing a certain solution on your loved one. This can make them retreat from social interactions even more. Instead, let them know that you are there to support them and listen if they want to disclose something to you. You can also offer to accompany them if they want to do an activity or spend some time with someone. By doing this, you can help them feel less alone and isolated in their struggle with their addiction.

Ultimately, if your loved one states that they want to seek professional support, you can let them know that you can help them choose an addiction counselor if they wish. Perhaps they are scared to get in touch with a mental professional for the first time, and, in this case, you can help them by contacting prospective addiction counselors and putting your loved one in touch with them.

Finding an Addiction Counselor on TherapyDen

Addiction is one of the most common mental health conditions. Fortunately, there are plenty of support types available to help, such as addiction counseling.

If you are looking for someone to treat your addiction issues, you can find someone in your area who can provide counseling services. You can simply find someone in your local area through by entering your zip code at the top of this website.

Counseling offers the guarantee of privacy and confidentiality and the most appropriate intervention approach based on your unique circumstances. It aims to help you work through the underlying causes of your addiction, manage your symptoms and equip you with the skills and coping strategies that prevent future relapses. Seeking counseling is no longer a taboo - everyone needs guidance and support to overcome the obstacles that stand in the way of their mental wellbeing.

Once you find a counselor, you should have an initial consultation with them and see whether they are a match for your addiction needs. Since different counselors specialize in different mental health issues, you might want to speak with someone whose expertise matches your mental health needs.

Teodora Ghiur
Staff Writer for TherapyDen

Recommended Articles