By: Patricia Oelze
Updated May 04, 2021
Medically Reviewed By: Whitney White, MS. CMHC, NCC., LPC
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If You're Struggling With Addiction, It's Important To Get Professional HelpYou Are Not Alone - Get Matched With A Counselor In 24 Hours
Addiction is a serious problem in the United States. Whether you are a drinker, smoker, drug user, or gambler, you are not alone. In fact, over 20,000,000 individuals in the United States have an addiction and more than 100 people per day die of an overdose, which has tripled in the last two decades. One in eight American adults has an alcohol addiction according to a recent study, which is a 49% increase in the past decade. Of those who have addictions, about seven percent of those have a mental illness as well. Regardless of what your addiction or disorder may be, if you are struggling with one of these problems, you know how difficult it is to deal with. It is important to get professional help no matter what your addiction and looking for a therapist is the first step.
Different Types Of Addiction
Before you start looking for a therapist, let's discuss the types of addiction with a little bit more detail. There are many kinds of addictions, and they can range from life-threatening drug or alcohol addictions to nicotine or caffeine to impulse control disorders like gambling. Then there are behavioral addictions like food addiction, internet addiction, and even shopping addictions.
Alcoholism Is On The Rise
Some substance addictions can result in health complications like disease, overdose, or even death. Alcohol use is legal and common at social gatherings and at certain events. This means that alcohol is easy to consume and problematic use can be easy to ignore or cover up.
Alcohol abuse has gone up by 49% since the year 2000, and it keeps rising. One out of every eight adults in the United States meets the criterion for alcoholism according to a study by JAMA. Because alcoholism is on the rise, the toll on America's health care costs is rising as well. Some of the illnesses related to alcoholism include type two diabetes, pancreatitis, several kinds of cancer, liver cirrhosis, stroke, heart disease, and hypertension. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that over 88,000 adults die as a result of alcohol-related disease or injuries.
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), about seven million people over the age of 12 in the United States use or abuse drugs. Five million of them are considered to have a drug addiction, and this amount has been steadily rising for the past two decades, similar to alcohol addiction. The numbers are up over eight percent in the past decade, with marijuana being the most common drug at 70% of the overall drug use. If you are not sure whether you or your loved one has a problem, there are certain signs you can look for, which include:
If You're Struggling With Addiction, It's Important To Get Professional HelpYou Are Not Alone - Get Matched With A Counselor In 24 Hours
- Lack of motivation
- Missing school or work
- Changes in behavior
- Appetite changes
- Hyperactivity or talking more than usual
- Staggering, stumbling, slurring words
- Falling asleep sitting up
- Poor hygiene
- Coughing or stuffy nose
- Swelling of the face or hands
- Nausea and vomiting
- Needle marks
- Breath and body smell different
- Shaking or sweating
- Sleeping difficulties
- Dilated pupils
- Red eyes
- Lack of interest in other things
Causes And Risk Factors
There are also many risk factors for drug and alcohol addiction. For example, drug and alcohol addiction can be genetic or hereditary. Your environment can also be a cause for drug or alcohol addiction or abuse. If you have been around drugs and alcohol in your home for a long time such as having a parent with an addiction, your chances are much higher than average of abusing drugs or alcohol. There are many other risk factors including:
- Coping with a chronic or terminal illness like cancer
- Mental or emotional disorders
- Abusive family dynamic
- Rebelling against parents or authority
- Peer pressure
- To feel good
- Parents who are neglectful or abusive
- Curiosity or experimentation
Getting Help For Your Addiction
If you or someone you love has an addiction, no matter what it is, there are plenty of counselors out there who can help. You can find one online by just typing in your zip code. However, there are some important things to consider when looking for an addiction therapist.
When you have decided to get the help, you should do some homework on your addiction and figure out what type of therapy would be best.
Are you just looking for information? Is it to help someone else? Or maybe it's for yourself?
Are you worried that you may have a problem? And want to find out what it may be?
What kind of addiction do you have? And do you need help discovering what it may be?
Certain addiction therapists will specialize in different kinds of addictions. For example, some therapists are best for alcohol or drug addiction while others may be better for gambling or internet addiction.
Addiction treatment can help you overcome addiction by helping you find your addiction triggers and find better ways to cope with those triggers. If you have been addicted to alcohol or drugs for a long time, you may need to be hospitalized because it is dangerous to detoxify without medical help. With the help of a doctor, you can get medication that will ease the side effects of quitting that some drugs and severe alcoholism can cause. Some of these side effects include vomiting, diarrhea, insomnia, depression, anxiety, and even seizures. This can be done inpatient or outpatient, depending on the severity of the side effects. However, no single treatment is right for everyone because everyone is different and each person has their own tolerance and withdrawal symptoms.
Kicking The Habit With Long-Term Treatment
You will need a treatment that addresses all of your needs including medical, mental, and emotional; it is not just about quitting the addictive substance. Counseling or behavioral therapy is essential in treating addictions no matter what you are addicted to. With counseling or therapy, you are much more likely to be successful in quitting and staying clean and sober. Long-term evaluation and therapy are important in staying away from whatever you are addicted to. Although it may take more than one try to kick the habit, once you do, having long-term counseling will help to prevent relapse. With certain drugs such as opioids, medication such as methadone or naltrexone is given to help with the effects of withdrawal and will relieve cravings as well. In fact, naltrexone is also used in treating those with severe alcoholism because it blocks the opioid receptors.
Motivational therapy is one of the newest forms of treatment for addiction and is considered to be an enhanced form of cognitive behavioral strategy. It was specifically designed to treat substance or alcohol addiction or abuse. Motivational therapy is a humanistic approach that instigates relationship-building and cognitive behavioral therapy. It works by enhancing your motivation to change with encouragement and empathy and has been found to be very successful in treating many kinds of addictions. Publicized by Rollnick and Miller in 1991, this type of therapy was found to have excellent results in treating substance abuse, especially opiates or other euphoric drugs. Motivational therapy focuses on the stages of change, which include:
- Precontemplation, when you are not ready to change
- Contemplation, when you are thinking about changing
- Preparation, when you are getting ready to change
- Action, during the change and doing therapy
- Maintenance, which is sustaining behavior change
- Relapse is slipping back into your previous behavior
- Termination means you are done with the cycle and have moved on
What Does an Addiction Therapist Do?
There are many different kinds of therapy out there. When it comes to substance abuse, there are addiction therapists who work with clients that are battling alcohol and drug abuse. People could be in counseling for a variety of reasons and be unaware that they have a substance abuse problem. If this is the case, a mental health professional might pick up on the warning signs in therapy. An addiction therapist is someone who helps individuals who are struggling with a substance use disorder. They specialize in addiction treatment and are highly trained in their field. Seeking addiction treatment can be overwhelming, but addiction therapists are there to help. You can search for therapists online by yourself, with the help of a loved one, or with a medical professional. Another way to find a therapist is to ask a medical provider, such as a general doctor. They'll be able to help you find therapists in your area and locate treatment facilities if needed. Addiction therapists are skilled in treating many different types of mental health issues. It's challenging to work in a field when you have clients that often relapse, which is why this profession requires dedicated individuals. Addiction therapists are passionate about helping clients who struggle with substance abuse on the road to sobriety.
How Do I Become an Addiction Counselor?
Addiction counselors require a substantial amount of formal education and almost always hold a master's or doctoral degree. However, the exact steps to take to become an addiction counselor will vary depending on where you're located. Check the requirements in your state to see what education you need to complete and how many hours of supervised training you need to complete. Note that there are a lot of careers in the field that you can take on. While you might need a master's degree to practice as a licensed addiction counselor, you can work in a peer-support role after completing a certificate program.
What Is the Role of an Addiction Counselor?
The role of an addiction counselor is to help people who are struggling with addiction. Depending on an individual's treatment plan, addiction counselors might provide talk therapy, hold family counseling sessions, or conduct group therapy. You can find addiction therapists or counselors in several settings, including hospital settings, residential or outpatient service centers, and government or community centers. An alcohol and drug counselor has many roles. They can act as a cheerleader, provide a sense of structure to a client, and help them integrate back into the world after completing treatment. Addiction counselors are trained to see the warning signs in therapy that may point to relapse or other issues.
What Does an Addiction Worker Do?
An addiction worker connects people battling addictions to resources such as mental health treatment, other medical services, employment, housing, and education. They support clients by speaking with them about what they're going through and using tangible actions to help them get to a better place. The search for addiction therapists can be a difficult one. Addiction workers and addiction therapists are compassionate and have seen it all. A good alcohol and drug counselor is non-judgmental and cares about their client's recovery. Addiction therapists and other substance abuse professionals will work with clients through relapses and other potential challenges. Finding a therapist who treats substance abuse doesn't have to be as difficult as you might think. You can search for addiction therapists in a confidential way, and there are a lot of online resources that'll help you in finding a therapist.
How Much Do Addiction Counselors Make?
A variety of factors determines the amount of money that an addiction counselor makes per year. The number can vary greatly depending on the geographical location someone practices in, how long they've been working in the field for, and the facility that they work in. Addiction therapists or counselors can make a good living, especially after being in practice for a long time. You might start out as a substance abuse counselor in a facility and then move onto seeing patients in a private practice setting.
How Long Do You Have to Go to School to Be a Counselor?
In most locations, you'll need a master's degree to become a counselor. You will have to get a bachelor's degree first and will then have to apply for graduate school. With both your bachelor's and master's degrees included, you'll be in school for about six years to complete the education necessary to become a counselor. After you finish graduate school, you will have to complete supervised training and go through the licensing process. Addiction therapists are professional counselors with a high level of expertise and knowledge of different modes of therapy for substance abuse.
How Long Do You Have to Go to School to Be a Drug Counselor?
Again, the length of schooling will vary depending on where you're located. It is essential that drug counselors are well-versed in addiction psychology, however, you will have to obtain specific certifications to work in the field.
What Are Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselors?
Substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors work with people struggling with alcoholism, drug addiction, or dependence, in addition to other behavioral problems. These clinicians help clients manage the symptoms of addiction in any of these areas.
What Is the Best Therapy for Substance Abuse?
There are many types of therapy used for substance abuse, and the best one will depend on your situation, your personhood, and comorbid conditions that you might experience. It will also depend on what type or types of addiction you experience. In general, when you look for a therapist, you want to make sure that they specialize in addiction so that you can get the help that you need. An addiction therapist might provide CBT, DBT, REBT, or motivational interviewing. CBT consists of therapy that helps you recognize and avoid or cope with the situations that cause you to turn to drugs or alcohol. You might also find that a combination of different types of therapy, such as group therapy paired with individual therapy, works the best for you. Online, you'll also be able to find therapist reviews and possibly even information about therapy costs. You must find the right therapist, so don't be afraid to look for other addiction psychologists or addiction therapists if the first one doesn't work out.
What Can You Do with a Master's in Addiction Counseling?
With a master's in addiction counseling, you can pursue a career in the field of addiction. You might work with those who suffer from drug addiction, alcohol addiction, or other addictions such as sex addiction. Even if you're a therapist yourself, you aren't immune to needing to take care of your mental health. There is a therapy for therapists out there, so if you're going into the field and struggle with anxiety, depression, or another mental health concern, know that it is okay to see a therapist yourself.
What Are Some Various Types of Drug Therapy?
Different modes of therapy can be used to treat addiction. Various types of drug therapy include different modalities:
one-on-one therapy or counseling
You might choose a 12-step program, cognitive behavioral therapy, motivational interviewing, REBT, contingency management, or something else. There are so many different modes of therapy that can be used for addiction treatment. Addiction and addiction treatment have been studied massively, and there's more help available now than ever before. You can explore therapy options online and read about them before going to your first session to become familiar with what it will be like.
Which Type of Therapy Is Most Effective?
The type of therapy that works best for you will be determined by what resonates with you the most as an individual and the issues you want to be treated in therapy. Sometimes, people have trauma or comorbid conditions to work through and will seek other forms of treatment in addition to addiction therapy. You can explore therapy modalities and see what feels the most effective and authentic for you. Elements of good therapy include having trust with your therapist, open and honest communication with your therapist, and feeling as though your therapist is truly hearing what you're saying. One of the signs of healthy therapy is when a client sees their life improving and values the world outside of addiction. Several different kinds of substance abuse therapy are available through online therapy services.
What Should a Treatment Plan Include?
Your treatment plan will be created to fit your individual needs and the type of therapy that you prefer. It will vary depending on if you are seeking inpatient or outpatient treatment, too. Typically, you'll attend both individual counseling and see a psychiatrist on an individual basis as well. Many people find group therapy to be an essential part of their treatment plan, and if you choose to attend an inpatient treatment center, it'll likely be included in your treatment plan. At some point during the treatment process, you might have family therapy or see a marriage counselor with your spouse. It is all highly dependent on your unique circumstances.
Are All Therapies Equally Effective?
To treat a drug and alcohol addiction is highly admirable, and there are a couple of things that can help you get the most out of the treatment or therapies you pursue. Long-term therapies that change as you progress in recovery are shown to be effective. For healthy therapy and effective treatment, it's also essential that comorbid issues are addressed.
What Are SMART Goals in Therapy?
SMART means Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. SMART goals or the SMART model are meant to help you set and meet achievable goals.
How Many Sessions Do You Get on a Mental Health Care Plan?
The number of sessions covered by the mental health care plan that your insurance provides will differ depending on your insurance company and individual insurance plan. You can find a therapist through your insurance company that is covered by your policy by calling them or checking their directory online if applicable. They will be able to help you locate an alcohol and drug counselor or addiction therapist with expertise in their field. Sometimes, insurance websites will even show ratings for different providers.
What Qualifies as a Professional Mental Health Provider?
A mental health provider can be licensed professional counselors, marriage and family therapists, addiction psychologists, psychiatrists, or other individuals who provide mental health services.
There are a wide variety of exercises and treatments that are excellent for drug and alcohol abuse or addiction. If you’re interested in starting out on your mental health journey, you can so do through BetterHelp.
As mentioned above, there are many potential ways to treat addictions with counseling. One of the most common is CBT, which is particularly well-studied for its online effectiveness. Many peer-reviewed studies have found that remotely delivered CBT is just as effective as face-to-face CBT.
While there should never been any stigma associated with getting treatment, if that is something you’re worried about, online therapy might provide you a greater sense of privacy. Being put on a wait list is another potential problem for some as they seek out a counselor, but BetterHelp pairs most people with a counselor within 24 hours. Plenty of people are already using BetterHelp for similar issues:
“Rebecca is a phenomenal counselor, her background and experience in a few areas like the judicial system and drug and alcohol treatment offers great insight for those who may have loved ones working through those issues. They are highly available, always willing to open up additional appointments if you can't find a time that works for you, respond quickly through chat. I would highly recommend anyone who is interested in working with cognitive behavioral therapy to reach out and see if they are available for a chat.”
“Samuel is an extremely smart man and makes me feel like he actually cares about me and my mental health. He goes the extra mile in finding me local groups and clinics and refers me books to read. I still have a long way to go but I’m glad it’s with him. Thank you, Sam.”
Taking on addiction is a big life step for anyone. Overcoming it will involve finding the right balance of support and treatment. You can take that first step today with BetterHelp.
If you need a crisis hotline or want to learn more about therapy, please see below:
RAINN (Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network) - 1-800-656-4673