Drug and Alcohol AddictionAccording to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 21.5 million adults were struggling with a substance use disorder in 2014. That means nearly 7 percent of Americans were battling with some kind of addiction during that year. Out of that total, about 80 percent were struggling with alcohol abuse. Addiction is a serious condition, a public health problem, and a tragedy for every family that has to deal with it. The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) begins to define addiction as “a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry.” (Addiction is a complex phenomenon, and ASAM’s “short” definition of addiction takes up two paragraphs.) Definitions are a necessary part of therapeutic practice, but they don’t capture the experience of addiction, either for those addicted or the ones who love them. For those fortunate enough never to have experienced the realties of addiction, a film like Beautiful Boy might begin to make it imaginable to you.
Recovery from AddictionFor an individual suffering from addiction, the recovery process most often includes these six steps:
- Recognizing that the addiction exists and that a change needs to be made.
- Deciding what kind of rehab program is right for them.
- Getting support from family, friends, and others.
- Remaining sober—avoiding triggers, cravings, etc.
- Building a new life.
- Avoiding relapses, but accepting them without becoming discouraged if they do happen.
Drug and Alcohol Recovery CounselingRecovery is a challenging process, which often has many confusing steps and backtracking along the way. One of the great challenges of recovery (and of recovery counseling) is learning how to avoid relapse. Counseling, however, is much more than teaching that skill. It is a complex and demanding job that allows you to help those in need and practice many necessary skills, including:
- Communicating with those in recovery, and with their families.
- Guiding counseling groups, including process, problem-solving, psycho-educational, and activity groups.
- Helping clients learn the skills to avoid relapse.
- Maintaining records in accordance with medical regulations and laws.
- Exploring the role of the therapeutic relationship in recovery from substance abuse.
- Practicing the skills of cultural competence that will facilitate the counseling relationship.