Drug addiction is a chronic disease that has disruptive effects on a user’s brain, behaviors, and self-control. When a person uses drugs regularly for a period of time, functional changes will happen within the brain – impairing that user’s ability to control impulses, to manage stress effectively, and to make rational decisions. These changes can last for a long time, even after the person has quit drug use.
Due to the chronic nature of addiction, some people will relapse after getting clean. Relapse means that a person returns to drug use after an attempt to stop. As heartbreaking and frustrating as it is, relapse can be a part of the recovery process. It’s important to know that it does not mean a person has failed. Often, relapse happens when a person is triggered by a stressful situation or memory that their brain is not yet prepared to handle, due to past drug use. As the National Institute on Drug Abuse states,
“Science has taught us that stress cues linked to the drug use (such as people, places, things, and moods), and contact with drugs are the most common triggers for relapse.”
The good news is that addiction is treatable, cravings are manageable, and relapse can be prevented with the right approach to drug treatment. As with any chronic condition, drug addiction treatment must involve changing deeply-rooted behaviors. It must teach those in recovery the proper coping skills, to help them better handle relapse triggers. This is where individualized drug counseling comes in.
Individualized drug counseling involves one-on-one therapy sessions between clients in recovery and a trained drug addiction counselor. During these sessions, clients are encouraged to talk about their drug habits, their reasons for using initially, and the personal relapse triggers that contribute to ongoing use – a traumatic past, a stressful relationship, social anxiety, depressive thoughts, it could even be a local bar in their hometown. The goal of individualized drug counseling is to get down to the root of a person’s addiction, and from there, develop strategies and a program to overcome it.
Drug counselors will also help clients create goals in recovery, both long- and short-term. A goal might be to get into and graduate college. Another might be to mend a relationship with a family member. Goals help those in recovery find purpose. Goals give them meaning and something to work towards. They drive them forward. By emphasizing the importance of future planning and goal-setting, drug counseling also gives clients the strategies and tools needed to keep their commitment to sobriety.
Counselors not only focus on stopping a clients’ drug and alcohol use (as well as preventing future use), but also address related areas of impaired functioning – family and social relationships, work or academic performance, illegal activity, and any co-occurring disorders. An addiction counselor may encourage a client to go to 12-step meetings and support groups, or provide access to any necessary medical, psychiatric, legal, academic or employment services.
If you or your loved one has a drug problem, you likely have thought about going to a detoxification rehab center to get sober. If you or your loved one has been to detox and since relapsed, you may be wondering why it “did not work.” These are common considerations. The fact is, recovery requires more than just “getting sober.” A successful lifetime of recovery requires that a person know how to “live sober.” There is a difference here. Living sober means making a daily commitment to not use drugs and to change negative behaviors, thinking, and outlooks. Living sober requires you to fully learn and accept who you are, and enjoy that, without drugs and alcohol. Getting sober, on the other hand, means ridding the drugs from your body – detoxing.
While most drug rehab programs start with detoxification, this should only be seen as the first phase of treatment. Detox is designed to help users manage the acute and potentially dangerous physical effects of withdrawal. However, it does not always lead to successful treatment outcomes, since it does not touch on relapse prevention. According to the NIDA,
“Detoxification alone does not address the psychological, social, and behavioral problems associated with addiction and therefore does not typically produce lasting behavioral changes necessary for recovery. Detoxification should thus be followed by a formal assessment and referral to drug addiction treatment.”
Drug counseling is a crucial part of addiction treatment, as it does in fact address the psychological, social, and behavioral problems – along with many others – that often co-occur with substance addiction. It is a counselor’s job to help clients move forward in their lives, develop healthy habits and coping mechanisms, and equip them with the recovery tools needed to meet their personal and professional goals. Drug counseling is necessary for the entire healing of the mind, body, and spirit, and therefore, will be integrated into any reputable, effective treatment program.
To learn about Turnbridge’s own approach to drug treatment and counseling, or to speak with one of our certified drug counselors, please do not hesitate to reach out at 877-581-1793 today.