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The benefits of drug counselling

What is drug addiction counselling?

Drug addiction counselling not only addresses the symptoms of drug addiction but is also used to inform the structure of your treatment programme. There is a significant focus on introducing a change to your behaviour. You will be familiarised with the 12-step ideology and provided with the tools required for recovery.

The end goal is to help you, or your loved one, achieve recovery and maintain abstinence in the long-term. In addition to this, the aim is to help you to also recover from the damage that your drug addiction caused in your life.

How and why to contact a drugs counsellor

Depending on what you require, sessions can take place either in a group, or one to one environment, with a registered counsellor or psychiatrist. The treatment focuses on you sharing your story with others, overcoming isolation and loneliness, and gaining the support you need.

What to expect from a meeting with a drugs counsellor?
  • Group sessions – You will be encouraged to share your past experiences, whilst looking at how far you have come. This method can be cathartic for the individual sharing the story and helpful for those listening.
  • Dealing with cravings – Drug and substance abuse counselling aim to assist you to find ways to deal with cravings and continue with your recovery and abstinence.
  • Combat coexisting problems – For example, depression and anxiety.

When attending counselling, one of the most common therapies is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), which encourages you to recognise the link between drug cravings and your feelings and turning these feelings into healthier thoughts. Motivational Enhancement Therapy is also a common type of counselling for drug addicts, along with relapse prevention.

Benefits of drug addiction counselling
  • Healthier state of mind – By speaking to a therapist, your state of mind could be changed for the better, helping you to deal with drug cravings and prevent relapse. Social and psychological factors can put you at high risk of relapse, even after your physical drug dependency has been quashed, so addressing these issues can help to reduce this likelihood.
  • Group sessions – Group counselling is an extremely beneficial method of treatment, as you not only receive the counsellor’s guidance but support from your peers as well.
  • One to one counselling – As an individual, you may prefer to focus on yourself and your own addictions, so a session with just you and a trained professional may be more beneficial
Help for partners, families and parents

In many cases, families, partners or parents are affected by drug abuse too. In which case, drug abuse counselling for families are available. Living with someone who has a destructive relationship with drugs can be tiring. Family members can often experience a number of painful and conflicting emotions, ranging from frustration, to loneliness and confusion, when trying to help a loved one. Addiction counselling can help them to understand this pain and channel it into helping with your recovery. 

Facing up to having drug issues and being able to talk about it with other people, can be a tough challenge for anyone with an addiction. But accepting the truth and being able to share it can be one of the first major steps you can take towards recovery. The benefits of drug counselling cannot be underestimated as part of the recovery process. Talking to other people in a supportive, shared environment gives you the chance to talk through shared issues with a group of peers and/or professionals who will not only be able to offer advice and support but also know what you’ve been going living from their own personal perspective.

Talking therapy

The benefits of counselling as part of rehabilitation

In addition to a gradual yet structured detoxification programme, entering into rehab forms a pivotal element when recovering from a drug addiction. The benefits of drug counselling and taking part in drug support groups are an integral part of the rehabilitation process and have been proven to provide an extremely effective means for you, or someone close to you, to achieve and maintain freedom from active addiction. Example techniques and therapies used range from one to one counselling and working together in a group to Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Motivational Enhancement Therapy (MET) and Relapse Prevention, to name but a few.

Talking therapy as part of drug counselling

Talking therapy is one form of drug counselling that encourages discussion around drug issues. Sam, 28, from Bristol found the benefits of drug counselling for drug addiction particularly useful:

“By the time I hit rock bottom, I knew that if I didn’t get some kind of treatment then there was no way I was going to be able to hold it together. My boyfriend had left me after I missed a series of mortgage payments and the flat was about to repossessed. It was Port of Call who booked me into drug rehab and that’s when I was introduced to talking therapy. I couldn’t see how talking would help me that much but I soon changed my mind.”

During the talking therapy sessions, Sam was encouraged to talk with other people about her addiction issues to explore the reasons why she had been taking drugs but also to look at techniques to resist taking drugs and to focus on positive goals for the future.

Frank the online and helpline drug support charity are advocates and supporters of talking therapies:

“For many people who have issues with drugs, a talking therapy provided alongside your care plan and other support work is the mainstay of treatment. Where there are cocaine dependency issues, for example, providing a talking therapy alongside other support that addresses wider problems, is what is most effective.”

But what about Sam? Was talking therapy really that useful to her?

“I must admit that I was a bit suspicious at first plus I’m quite shy around other people, but the talking therapy really gave me the chance to put my story across and allowed me the opportunity to talk together with other people – including my partner – to work things out. I would highly recommend this approach to anyone who is going through the rehab process.”

What about drug support groups?

There are many free drug support groups that provide ongoing talking therapy sessions for addicts. Here are some organisations that you could contact:

Narcotics Anonymous is run by volunteers. Their membership is open to anyone seeking help with a drug issue, regardless of what drug or combination of drugs they have used and irrespective of age, sex, religion, race, creed or class. The only requirement for membership is the commitment and desire to stop using drugs. Their main service involves weekly local meetings that follow 12 principles with an expectation of complete abstinence. In meetings, members talk to each other exchanging personal experiences and stories in order to bring about solutions to their problems.

Cocaine Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who come together to share their experiences in order to gain strength and hope from each other to help themselves and others to recover from their addiction. As with Narcotics Anonymous, the only requirement for membership is a desire to stop using cocaine and any other mind-altering substances. They also use the 12 step recovery method, which involves service to others as a path towards recovery from addiction, and believe that one addict talking to another provides a level of mutual understanding and fellowship that is hard to get from other rehabilitation methods or approaches.

SMART Recovery (SMART) is a science-based programme to help people manage their recovery from any type of addictive behaviour. SMART stands for ‘Self Management And Recovery Training’ and its aim is to help participants ascertain if they have a problem, building up their motivation to change and offering a set of tried and tested tools and techniques to support recovery.

Whatever your situation or requirements, if you or a loved one is trying to deal with addiction issues, Port of Call are here to help you access the local addiction services that are right for you. You don’t have to wait any longer – speak to one of our advisers for free on 08000029010.

Disclaimer: Names and some details have been changed to protect the identity of our case study participants.

About the author: Alex Molyneux

Alex is our admissions team leader. Over the last 5 years he has spoken with more than 10,000 people via our helpline and has organised over 1,000 detox and rehabilitation placements.

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