Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
Addiction is a deep-rooted disease. Drug and alcohol addicts suffer from more than just the effects of substance abuse. Their issues are psychological, usually resulting from a mental disorder or even from an event in their past.
This is why addicts need professional psychological help during the recovery process. Addiction counselors aid an addict in various areas of recovery, understanding their addiction and assuring them of their decision to recover.
Are you thinking of becoming an addiction counselor? Understand the role before taking courses. Read on to learn more.
The most important part of your job is to communicate with addicts. They’re enduring a lot during rehab; they have many questions and uncertainties with sobriety.
They’re also coming to terms with their addiction and even a mental disorder or a past event.
As a counselor, you’ll communicate all of this information with them. You’ll use a combination of endearment and understanding but will also use your knowledge of addiction to give them a rational explanation of what they’re going through.
While it’s easy to want to give advice and educate an addict, it’s equally important to listen.
An addiction counselor needs to be a great listener. Addicts have many emotions when they go through treatment. Oftentimes, all they need is to just express their feelings.
Listening is also integral because it will help you understand your patient better. You can easily treat their case as unique and can improve as a counselor overall.
They Encourage Recovery
It’s easy to give up; the withdrawal symptoms are difficult, they’re fighting cravings, and are struggling to find a purpose in life.
This is where an addiction counselor comes in. They encourage their patients to stick with rehab and treatment. They let them know how wonderful they’re doing and the benefits a sober lifestyle will bring.
They Create an Alliance With Patients
Addiction counselors are unlike traditional counselors. Addiction counselors create a true bond and connection with their patients. An addict needs a backbone during recovery.
The counselor will create a bond with patients, so they know they always have a support system.
They Focus on a Patient’s Unique Experience
No two recovering addicts are the same. Every addict endures different emotions, symptoms, and thoughts when going through recovery.
An important part of an addiction counselor’s job is to not treat every addict the same. You have to assist your patient through their unique recovery journey.
It’s easy to take every patient like a textbook study.
You’ll likely meet with several patients every day. As you gain experience as an addiction counselor, you’ll learn ways to communicate with each patient to ensure you’re giving them personalized service.
An addict is going through a lot when they’re recovering. They’re enduring one of the most difficult times of their lives. It’s easy for an addict to feel rebellious, have emotional outbursts, and not want to comply with their treatment.
One of the reasons they behave this way is they lack trust. The substances were their only trusted companion for years. They feel like they have nothing and don’t know what life is without their substance.
Part of your job as a counselor is to help an addict build trust again. Without trust, your patient won’t receive the help they need. This is a skill you’ll learn from experience in the profession.
Refer Patients to Support Groups
Counseling isn’t a former addict’s only option for psychological help. Connecting with like-minded peers helps an addict understand their addiction and reinforces that they’re not alone during the recovery process.
But how does one go about finding support groups? The addiction counselor will start recommending support groups during their first sessions.
As an addiction counselor, build up a list of support groups for different substances. There are even support groups that help former addicts engage in other hobbies, such as yoga or art.
Provide Guidance for Loved Ones
Substance abuse recovery isn’t only about the addict. This process is difficult for the loved ones of the addict.
They’re witnessing withdrawals, intense mood swings, and watching their loved ones suffer. It’s also common for loved ones to have questions about recovery and are unsure of their roles.
This is where an addiction counselor comes in.
An addiction counselor not only supports the addict but also their loved ones. They provide education on substance abuse, the recovery process, and what loved ones can do to support their loved ones.
They will be there from the intervention to the moment when the addict is cleaned up from their addiction. An addiction counselor can also be there after they recover, to provide more guidance on sober living.
They Support Their Client’s Relapse And Recovery Plan
This is the unfortunate part of recovery – the fear of relapsing.
Not only does relapsing ruin their sober lifestyle but relapsing also puts the former addict at life-threatening dangers.
Relapsing is more likely to lead to accidental overdose; the addict will use as much as they did before, and they don’t have that tolerance anymore.
Unfortunately, the former addict’s cravings can become so severe they will give back to their addiction. That’s when a counselor comes in to help.
They will educate the addict about relapsing and will come up with a relapse prevention plan. They will work with the patient to see how they can prevent relapsing after recovery.
Addiction Counselors Are in Big Demand Right Now
Do you love helping people? With so many people suffering from substance abuse, the demand is growing for addiction counselors who are willing to help.
If you want a fulfilling career where you give back, consider helping substance abuse addicts by being an addiction counselor.
If you want to become a counselor, you need the proper schooling. Look at our addiction counselor program.