Many factors work together to help individuals turn from the depths of addiction to the extraordinary freedom of sobriety. One of the most important of these factors is a substance abuse counselor. These individuals may lead group counseling sessions or work one-one-one with patients in treatment, and their role can’t be overestimated on the road to recovery.
First-Hand Experience With Addiction
Often, prospective patients seeking addiction treatment want to examine the credentials of a potential substance abuse counselor. This is, after all, the same way that a person would determine if a lawyer, doctor or teacher would be qualified to take on a particular position. However, credentials may be less important than experience when it comes to substance abuse counseling. Counselors who have a personal understanding of addiction, rather than just a textbook definition of it, may be able to speak more confidently to patients. In addition, counselors with first-hand knowledge may be received better by patients who don’t think anyone else could understand their illness.
Availability and Continued Relationship Potential
There are approximately 94,900 substance abuse counselors employed in the United States, but many patients will have a unique relationship with their counselors that can’t be replaced. For that reason, the availability and long-term potential of a counselor can have a major impact on a patient’s sobriety.
If patients rely exclusively on the help and support of a single counselor, not having this individual’s advice when a crisis occurs can be detrimental to their relapse prevention. Thankfully, many counselors are happy to create and maintain ongoing relationships with their patients, even when they move from residential care to outpatient or sober living programs.
Listening Without Judgement
Individuals dealing with substance abuse can feel a range of emotions, but some of the most common include:
While these are natural emotions that may play a role in recovery, they can spiral into more permanent conditions such as depression, anxiety or suicidal thoughts. Considering the high co-occurring rates of substance abuse and mental illness, this is a major concern for patients in addiction treatment. Counselors who can hear the darkest, most troubling thoughts and experiences of patients without judgement can play a role in helping them recover without shame or further injury.
Separating the Person From the Disease
A substance abuse counselor is often a solitary voice that patients listen to in a sea of overwhelming information. Although taking personal responsibility is a key part of recovery, it’s also important that patients understand they are distinct entities separated from the disease of addiction. Counselors who explain that personal willpower, or a lack thereof, isn’t responsible for continued substance abuse can help patients feel at peace with their lives and their past.
Achieving sobriety isn’t a solo task, and every substance abuse counselor can play an integral role in recovery. Call 866-322-7820 for information on The Hills Treatment Center in Los Angeles, California, and how experienced, trained and recovering substance abuse counselors can help on your journey to lasting sobriety.