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Alcohol Counseling: Addiction Treatment

Alcohol counseling is one of the crucial stages of rehab. When a recovering drinker meets with a counselor to discuss his/her struggles with alcohol, the two parties work together to find a solution for the individual.

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Alcohol Counseling Information

Alcohol counseling was developed to help people overcome alcoholism. At rehab centers, each patient is assigned a counselor. The patient reveals his/her background regarding alcohol abuse and mental health. The counselor, in turn, uses this information to develop the most effective treatment plan for the individual.

Alcohol counselors employ methods known as compressive treatment plans: a holistic approach designed to treat each patient on a mental and physical level. At certain treatment facilities, counselors even cover the spiritual realm.

In a comprehensive program, patients partake in the following activities:

  • Individual counseling – one-on-one meetings between the patient and counselor.
  • Group counseling sessions – where patients meet in groups and hold discussions hosted by one or more counselors.
  • Medication-assisted treatment – where doctors administer medication to help patients overcome withdrawal symptoms.

The process of comprehensive therapy usually lasts anywhere from one to three months. Counselors often recommend three months to help ensure a full and long-lasting recovery.

What Do Alcohol Counselors Offer?

Alcohol counseling sessions are different for each patient. It can all depend on the severity of one’s alcoholism. Some patients overcome their drinking problem in a matter of weeks while others take several months.

Depending on a patient’s progress, the counselor will determine whether the patient needs a longer or shorter therapy program. If treatment seems not to work as hoped, the counselor will adjust the therapeutic approach and possibly consider something more structured and rigorous.

Overall, alcohol counselors offer the following:

  • Guidance – advising the patient on how to navigate a sober life, including which habits to adopt that would be congruent with sobriety.
  • Discipline – recommendations on how to structure the day in a manner congruent with sober, busy, productive individuals.
  • Knowledge – insights and info on the dangers of alcohol and why the patient should take greater concerns for his/her physical health.
  • Tips – ways to avoid alcohol and the temptation to drink, such as avoiding bars and friends who drink; steering clear of triggering, stressful subjects typically associated with drinking.
  • Emotional support – encouragement and positive reinforcement as the patient complete his/her journey.

Patients who commit themselves to sobriety can usually conquer their habit within a few months. If a patient does feel overwhelming urges to drink again, he/she should always contact the counselor immediately for help.

How to Pick an Alcohol Counselor

Alcohol counselors have different personalities. In counselor/patient dynamics, chemistry is a vital component for the success of one’s treatment. Each patient should look for a counselor that he/she feels comfortable opening up to on a personal level.

Some people take well to a highly disciplined approach while others need a more nurturing personality for guidance. These are things to keep in mind when scoping for a counselor. Most of all, the patient must be devoted to his/her success to beat the problem.

Look for AUD Treatment Qualifications

The therapeutic world is full of all types of specialties. Some mental health counselors take clients with various issues, including alcohol use disorder (AUD). However, to get the most effective AUD treatment, patients should always choose a counselor who specializes in the topic. Things to look for in a counselor include:

  • Experience – the number of years this counselor has treated AUD.
  • Qualifications – the counselor’s license and education credentials.
  • Reputation – reviews this counselor has received from past clients.
  • Testimonials – people who attest to this counselor’s treatment methods.

When choosing a counselor, it’s also important to check out the price this person charges for service and how it compares to competing options in the area. Also, consider the location. If the doctor’s office requires a 50-mile-plus drive, would that be time- or cost-prohibitive?

What Types of Therapy do Alcohol Counselors Practice?

Always inquire about the types of therapy a counselor uses to treat AUD. Is it an evidence-based method held in high regard among mental-health professionals, or is it quackery? The most popular types of therapy for AUD include:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy – helps the patient identify deep-seated, subconscious beliefs that determine his/her behavior. By identifying this, counselors help patients reverse negative thought processes and habits.
  • Dual-diagnosis therapy – identifies co-occurring mental health problems that feed into addictive behavior, such as past trauma.
  • Biofeedback – a mind/body therapy designed to improve mental health in tandem with physical health, where patients proactively change the way their bodies function by learning to regulate breathing patterns, temperature and heartbeats.
  • Holistic therapy – a combination of mental health and physical therapy, designed to treat the patient in mind, body and soul. This sometimes includes spiritual therapy as an option for the spiritually inclined.

Some counselors combine these therapies. Others may be open to all four but emphasize one over the other based on past results. Whichever therapy is right for one patient could all depend on his/her psychology.

Do Alcohol Counselors Take Insurance?

Not all counselors accept insurance coverage and those that do may have limits on which policies they’ll accept. When scoping a potential counselor, this should be a primary question. Will the policy in question cover all or part of the treatment? If it only offers partial coverage, is the difference cost-prohibitive?

Check to see if the insurance provider offers a list of nearby counselors who work within the network.

Trust Your Instinct

No one should ever go with a counselor when the instincts are bad. If the counselor gives off a vibe that doesn’t sit well with the person in need of AUD treatment, it probably won’t be a good match.

They say to always trust your gut feelings about people: a maxim that holds especially true in situations as critical as counseling. It doesn’t mean the counselor is bad or the patient is too judgmental, just that the chemistry probably wouldn’t suffice for a working relationship.

The Benefits of Alcohol Counseling

In AUD counseling, patients have mental tasks to complete on the road to sobriety. With each step, the patient sheds the attitudes and habits that feed into alcohol addiction treatment. The following steps help patients achieve the healthy mindsets of sober individuals.

  • Stress-management – alcohol abuse is usually a sign of maladaptive behavior, where the person drinks to cope with stress. In rehab counseling, patients learn about healthier ways to handle and regulate stress.
  • Goal-setting and milestones – successful rehab involves a sequence of victories. As the patient grows more confident of his/her prospects and place in the world, the disparity that feeds into alcohol abuse falls by the wayside.
  • Trigger prevention – stressful and vexing situations are facts of life. A well-adjusted, sober individual knows how to handle these situations and either turn them around or avoid them.
  • Obstacle elimination – recovery on the mental level, through cognitive behavioral therapy, is about eliminating defeatist, self-limiting beliefs. People who conquer negative thoughts are bound to do better in life.

People who undergo substance abuse treatment are advised to cut ties with drug and alcohol users and focus on healthy role models.

Activities for People Recovering from AUD

In drug and alcohol addiction counseling, patients are advised to take up new hobbies. People who struggle with AUD often lead structureless days surrounded by bars, liquor stores and urban congestion. In rehab, patients are encouraged to embrace the opposite. The following activities can take people far away from the trappings of the alcoholic lifestyle:

  • Art Therapy – this could involve painting, drawing, graphic illustration, ceramics, figure-making; anything that involves imagination and hand/eye coordination.
  • Animal Care – when people connect with animals, they appreciate the beauty of life. Dog and cat grooming qualify, as does equine therapy, which involves horses.
  • Hiking – forest trails provide wonderful views of nature, far removed from the smoke, congestion and vices of city life.
  • Physical Activity – sports, cardio and weight-lifting circulate the heart and get the body energized. This helps reverse the poor physical health that often stems from alcohol abuse.
  • Volunteer Work – when people conquer addiction and gain a new lease on life, it’s always nice to give back to the community by participating in volunteerism, such as animal care and cleanup programs.

In most American addiction centers, counselors encourage patients to take up new hobbies like art therapy and animal care because they require goal-setting, concentration, passion and clear-headedness, all qualities that counteract the alcoholic mindset.

Alcohol Abuse Counseling in Rehab

Treatment centers across the US offer residential inpatient and outpatient programs for people who struggle with drugs and alcohol. These places offer drug abuse treatment and host support groups composed of people from all walks of life. The most commonly treated condition is alcohol use disorder (AUD), which claims more than 95,000 US lives each year.

Get Help Today

Don't go through the process of recovery alone. There are people who can help you with the struggle you're facing. Get in touch with one today.

Make a Call

Find Alcohol and Substance Abuse Treatment

If someone you know is struggling with alcohol dependence, don’t let that person become a statistic. Find a treatment provider in your area with an alcohol and drug counselor who acts in accordance with the Mental Health Services Administration.

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