How to find an addiction therapist
The disease model of addiction indicates that substance use disorders are, in fact, diseases that involve genetic and/or biological factors, which means that medical and/or mental health treatment for such conditions is generally required for recovery. Also note that of those who live with a substance use disorder, almost 40% also have another co-occurring mental health condition as well. If you’re living with an addiction or dependency issue of any kind, you may benefit from professional help from addiction counselors or therapists online, in some cases, or in person.
The SAMHSA National Helpline for support with substance misuse is available 24/7 and can be reached by calling (800) 662-4357.
Types of dependencies and addictions that may require addiction treatment
Understanding a bit more about common types of substance-related challenges can help you figure out which type of professional you may want to seek out. First, let’s take a look at the types of addiction and some of the addictive substances that are often misused.
Although they're often used interchangeably, dependence vs addiction are two different stages of potentially harmful substance reliance. Dependence generally refers to the physical need and resulting tolerance a person may develop for a particular substance that can lead to withdrawal if stopped. Addiction generally refers to an escalated version of this experience, where physical dependency increases and mental dependency becomes strong as well. At this point, it can be very difficult to stop using the substance without professional support, as the chances of experiencing withdrawal symptoms can be high. Inpatient or outpatient treatment, usually involving addiction therapy, group therapy, and an individualized treatment plan, may be necessary.
Drugs and alcohol are two substances that people most commonly associate with addiction, which we’ll take a closer look at below There’s also the possibility of nicotine addiction in the form of cigarettes or vapes. Even the milder caffeine addiction can still cause reliance, though with considerably lower potential consequences than the other substances listed here. Finally, addiction can also involve many other behaviors outside of substances, such as gambling, shopping, and overeating. Struggles with any substance or addictive behavior can warrant help from an addiction counselor or other mental health professional.
Drinking alcohol, particularly in excess, can lead to alcohol use disorder in some individuals, which can greatly increase the risk of developing serious health complications that can impact a person’s quality of life. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that over 140,000 adults died each year between 2015 and 2019 because of alcohol-related diseases or injuries. such as:
- Liver cirrhosis
- Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder
- Type 2 diabetes
- Various types of cancer
Alcohol use is legal and common at social gatherings, meaning that it’s easy to source, difficult to avoid, and fairly simple to hide in many cases if a problem with misuse develops. As of 2021, new statistics show that almost 11% of Americans aged 12 and older have an alcohol use disorder (AUD). Searching for "alcohol counseling near me" can be a place to start if you’re experiencing symptoms of an AUD. This can help you find mental health professionals nearby who specialize in addiction treatment and particularly treatment for alcoholism.
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), around 8% of Americans aged 12 or older have a drug use disorder. Depending on the particular substance, possible consequences of drug use could include the risk of overdose and increased risk of long-term health conditions like stroke, heart disease, cancer, and various mental health conditions. Potential warning signs that you or someone you love could be experiencing a drug use disorder include:
- A lack of motivation
- Absenteeism at school or work
- Changes in behavior
- Changes in appetite
- Hyperactivity or a tendency to talk more than normal
- A tendency to stagger, stumble, or slur words
- Poor hygiene
- Cough or congestion
- Swelling of the face or hands
- Nausea and vomiting
- Needle marks
- Changes in breath or body odors
- Shaking or sweating
- Sleeping difficulties
- Dilated pupils
- Red eyes
- Lack of interest in other things
Risk factors for developing an addiction
There are many risk factors for drug and alcohol addiction. For example, both can be at least partially hereditary. The environment can also contribute to the possibility of substance misuse; if you have been around drugs and alcohol in your home and/or grew up around them, your chances of using and misusing substances may be higher than average. There are also many other possible risk factors, including:
- A chronic or terminal illness like cancer
- Mental or emotional disorders
- Abusive family dynamics
- Peer pressure
- Parents who are neglectful or abusive
- Curiosity or a desire for experimentation
If you or someone you know is experiencing abuse in any form, you can contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) for immediate support, advice, and assistance.
Types of therapy provided by mental health professionals for substance use challenges
The best addiction treatment for a substance use disorder depends on the individual and their circumstances. There are various types of therapy that may be helpful for someone with a substance use disorder, depending on the particulars of their situation. For example, motivational therapy is one common form of treatment for addiction that utilizes techniques derived from cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), a form of talk therapy that helps you change thought patterns and behavior. It’s a patient-centered method that focuses on motivating the person living with the addiction to change negative behaviors through empathy, compassion, and personal accountability. 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, which is the main part of the change process
- Maintenance, which involves sustaining behavior change
- Relapse, or the potential to slip back into your previous behaviors
- Termination, which means you are done with the cycle and have moved on
Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) is another form of therapy that may be used for those experiencing substance use disorders. It aims to teach a person to build distress tolerance and healthy coping mechanisms to help them avoid turning to substance use when experiencing stress or sadness. Trauma-focused therapies like eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy could also help if unresolved past trauma is contributing to a person’s substance misuse challenges. These are just a few of the many different modalities that may be recommended for an individual with this type of disorder. Speak with a doctor, substance use counselor, or therapist for more information on which treatment process might be right for you.
Addressing drug and alcohol dependency with a therapist or other mental health professional: Seeking an addiction therapist near me
Seeking professional help for a substance use disorder is usually the recommended course of action for those who are experiencing symptoms. First—especially if you have any underlying issues related to physical health—a doctor may help you navigate any withdrawal symptoms, which could include vomiting, diarrhea, insomnia, depression, anxiety, and seizures. Then, they can establish an effective therapy and treatment plan.
In addition, setting out to find an addiction therapist or substance use counselor to add to your care team can help you with the mental and emotional aspects of quitting, as well as address what may have led you to substance misuse in the first place. For example, therapists like this can help you address past trauma, chronic stress, or symptoms of a mental health condition like depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and support you in finding healthier coping mechanisms for difficult emotions. In one-on-one therapy, many therapists, addiction psychologists, and mental health professionals, whether they have a master’s degree or further education, aim to help you get to the root of addiction and find alternative ways to manage difficult emotions.
Some individuals will have the best results receiving comprehensive care at an inpatient facility, while others may be able to seek treatment by attending regular appointments online or in person. If you’re looking for a ‘substance use counselor near me,’ “addiction therapist near me,” or ‘drug counseling near me,’ you can search these terms to find inpatient or outpatient services in your area. Or, you could contact your insurance company, if applicable, for a list of in-network providers, ask your doctor for a referral, or reach out to local community organizations that may be able to provide resources. You might also consider group therapy and family therapy in addition to individual therapy. Working with family therapists can help you, as well as those close to you who may have been affected by your addiction. The best therapy may be the option that you believe benefits you the most, and this can vary from person to person.
Online therapy for substance use challenges
Some people find it difficult, intimidating, or inconvenient to attend in-person appointments with a therapist to discuss their challenges with substance use. In some cases, online therapy can be an effective and convenient alternative with lower therapy costs. This is particularly true for those who have noticed early signs of potentially problematic substance misuse or those who may be at risk for developing a substance use disorder due to past trauma, a family history, or other factors. It can also be a promising option for individuals who have a loved one facing substance-related challenges, as a way for them to receive emotional support.
With a platform like BetterHelp, you can get this type of support virtually, from the comfort of home. While virtual treatment is not appropriate in all cases—particularly severe cases where inpatient/in-person treatment is necessary—it can be helpful for some individuals. Research suggests that online therapy where you meet with a provider virtually can be an effective treatment for psychiatric disorders like depression, anxiety, and others, so it may be worth exploring for some individuals.
“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 additional appointments if you can't find a time that works for you, and respond quickly through chat. I would highly recommend anyone 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 cares about me and my mental health. He goes the extra mile in finding me local groups and clinics and refers me to books to read. I still have a long way to go but I’m glad it’s with him. Thank you, Sam.”
Addiction can be a deeply challenging health concern to address, which is why deciding to find an addiction therapist or other licensed healthcare professional for support is usually recommended. If you’re experiencing a substance use disorder or any level of substance use that is concerning to you or your loved ones, help is available. You can find addiction therapists in your area by asking your insurance company, connecting with community organizations, asking for a referral from your doctor, or, in some cases, meeting with a therapist online.
Frequently asked questions (FAQs)
What is an addiction therapist?
Addiction therapists help individuals who are struggling with a substance use disorder. They specialize in addiction treatment and tend to be highly trained in their field. You can search for addiction therapists online by yourself, with the help of a loved one, or with a medical professional. A healthcare provider may be able to help you find addiction therapists in your area and locate treatment facilities if needed. Mental health professionals tend to be passionate about helping clients overcome substance use disorder and remain on a path of recovery.
How do I become an addiction counselor?
Addiction mental health professionals require a substantial amount of formal education and typically hold at least a master's degree. However, the exact steps to take to become an addiction counselor may vary depending on where you are located. You might check the requirements in your state to see what education you need and how many hours of supervised training you need to complete. Also, there are a lot of careers in this field that you can choose. While you might need a master's degree to practice as a licensed addiction counselor, you may be able to work in a peer-support role after completing a certificate program.
What is the role of an addiction counselor?
The role of addiction mental health professionals is to help people who are experiencing an addiction. Depending on an individual's treatment plan, addiction mental health professionals might provide talk therapy, hold family counseling sessions, or conduct group therapy. You can find addiction therapists or mental health professionals in several settings, including hospital settings, residential or outpatient service centers, and government or community centers. Alcohol and drug mental health professionals can have many roles. They may act as a coach, provide a sense of structure to a client, and help them integrate back into the world after completing treatment. Mental health professionals are usually trained to see various warning signs that may point to relapse or other concerns.
What does an addiction social worker do?
An addiction social worker typically connects people with addictions to resources such as mental health treatment, medical services, employment, housing, and education. They often support clients by speaking with them about what they are going through and using tangible actions to help them get to a better place for their mental health.
Effective addiction social workers and addiction therapists are typically compassionate and non-judgmental. Addiction therapists and other substance use disorder professionals often work with clients through relapses and other potential challenges.
How long do you have to go to school to be a counselor?
In most locations, you typically need a master's degree to become a counselor and mental health professional. With both your bachelor's and master's degrees, you will typically need an average of six years to complete the education necessary to become a counselor. After you finish graduate school, you will likely have to complete supervised training and go through the licensing process.
What is the best therapy for substance use disorder?
There are many types of therapy used for substance use disorder. Your therapy may be uniquely tailored for you and depend on your addiction type, your identity, and any coexisting conditions you may have with mental health. In general, it may help to look for a therapist who specializes in addiction so that you can get the help that you need. Addiction therapists might provide cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), rational emotive behavioral therapy (REBT), or motivational interviewing. CBT tends to helps you recognize and avoid or cope with the situations that cause you to turn to alcohol or other substances. 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 and your mental health.
As you search for a therapist for substance use, you might find online therapist reviews and possibly even information about therapy costs. If you don’t find the right fit the first time, you might consider changing therapists until you find someone with whom you feel comfortable.
What is a drug therapist?
An addiction therapist is someone who tends to use different modes of therapy to treat addiction. They may use the following modalities:
- One-on-one therapy or counseling
- Group therapy
- Skill-building therapy
- Family therapy
- Couples therapy
- Marriage counseling
- Individual therapy
You might choose a 12-step program, cognitive behavioral therapy, motivational interviewing, rational emotive behavioral therapy, contingency therapy, etc. There are several modes of therapy that can be used for addiction treatment. You can explore therapy options online before going to your first session with a therapist to become familiar with what your sessions might be like.
Which type of therapy with a therapist is most effective?
The type of therapist that works best for you may depend on what resonates with you the most and the concerns you want to be treated with a therapist. Sometimes, people have trauma or comorbid conditions to work through, so they seek other forms of treatment in addition to addiction therapy. You can explore therapeutic modalities and see what feels the most effective and authentic for you.
Elements of effective therapy typically include having trust with your therapist, engaging in open and honest communication, and feeling that your therapist is truly hearing what you are saying. People come to therapy with all sorts of experiences and backgrounds. For example, some people have deep-seated religious beliefs, and many therapists work hard to respect their spiritual faith in line with the help that modern therapy can also provide.
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 therapy for substance use are available through online therapy services, such as BetterHelp.
What does a treatment plan include?
Your treatment plan will likely be created to fit your individual needs. It may vary depending on if you are seeking inpatient or outpatient treatment, too. Some people attend 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 go to an inpatient treatment center, it will likely be included in your treatment plan. At some point during the treatment process, you might have family therapy or see a marriage therapist with your spouse or significant other. It typically depends on your unique circumstances.
What are SMART goals in therapy?
SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. The SMART model is meant to help you set and meet achievable goals for your mental health.
How many sessions do you get on a mental health care plan?
The number of sessions covered by a mental health care plan that your insurance provides will likely depend on your insurance company and your specific individual insurance plan. You can find mental health professionals through your insurance company by calling them or checking their directory online, if applicable. Your insurance company may be able to help you locate an alcohol and drug counselor with expertise in their field.
You can also opt for an online therapy service, such as BetterHelp, which offers a monthly therapy plan with online sessions and in-app messaging with a therapist.
What qualifies as a professional mental health provider?
Mental health providers can include licensed mental health professionals, marriage and family therapists, addiction psychologists, psychiatrists, or other individuals who provide mental health services.
How do I know if my therapist has countertransference?
Do therapists have feelings for their clients?
What is the importance of countertransference to Counsellor?
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