How Counseling Enhances Recovery Success

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October 19, 2023
Man in discussion with a counselor, who is taking notes on a clipboard during a counseling session.

Individuals who are being affected by substance use can now explore a wider range of recovery pathways, thanks to the advancements in medication-assisted treatment (MAT). While the advanced medicine used in these programs is highly effective, these therapies work best and offer the highest chances of long-lasting recovery when coupled with substance use counseling.

Attending therapy has become popular and commonplace among people of all ages today. However, those overcoming addiction encounter specific challenges. These obstacles throughout their recovery journey require careful strategy and planning for the future.

Understanding the importance of substance use counseling in addiction recovery requires acknowledging two facts:

  1. Substance use disorder is a brain disease
  2. Changing thought patterns and behaviors involves time and consistent effort.

Adapting to a new lifestyle in recovery is much more than taking medication regularly and breaking chemical dependence; it requires dedication and intrapersonal work with a professional who offers insight and guidance.  

The Synergy of MAT and Substance Use Counseling 

MAT serves as a revolutionary approach by addressing the physical hooks of addiction within the brain and body. It mitigates the overpowering chemical impulses fueled by highly addictive substances, which rewire the brain’s reward system. However, the journey doesn’t end with medication, it’s just the beginning.

Statistics reveal a stark reality: the average success rate of long-term recovery in MAT is about 10 percent. But there’s a silver lining. When coupled with substance use counseling, that recover success rate jumps to about 50 percent. While starting medication is the first step of recovery, beginning counseling once the patient has achieved the correct dosage is vital. 

This dual approach not only eases the physical turmoil of withdrawal but also fortifies the mind, preparing individuals for the rigorous path ahead. This strategy ensures a holistic return to health and increases the likelihood of a successful recovery.

Group of individuals participating in a counseling session, seated in a circle, engaging in discussion as part of their recovery journey.

The Dual Path of Group and Individual Counseling

Patients enrolled in MAT greatly benefit from both individual and group counseling sessions, as each serving unique roles. Group sessions provide a safe space to share their thoughts, worries and hopes with a small group of peers going through a similar experience.

Empathy is crucial in the recovery process, especially for those feeling alone. Group counseling often becomes a lifelong support network, navigating patients to a future free from the chains of addiction.  

Individual counseling sessions focus more on the patient’s personal goals, often discussing more private matters. Substance use counselors are trained and specialized to deal with the various known issues most people with substance use disorder face, such as homelessness, unemployment, financial difficulty, etc.

Counselors also play a critical role in supporting patients struggling with mental health challenges, which are often coupled with addiction. They collaborate closely with medical providers to identify and advocate for essential psychiatric care within the patients’ treatment plans, ensuring a comprehensive approach to their recovery journey.

Practicing Relapse Prevention in Counseling

One of the biggest challenges on the road to long-lasting recovery is accepting that relapse is part of the process. However, counseling helps patients understand that slips and relapse are simply road bumps, not stop signs. Without a counselor’s guidance, it’s very easy for individuals to abandon their treatment prematurely if they make a mistake.

Counselors work with patients to create relapse prevention plans, crucial for early detection and intervention. Having a post-relapse strategy ensures patients have access to 24/7 support lines for immediate help during post-relapse crises.

Safeguarding recovery against relapse is crucial, proving that with dedication, life beyond addiction is possible.

A man engaged in a conversation with a counselor during an individual counseling session.

Healing Trauma in Addiction Recovery

It’s safe to say that no one who has misused substances plan on developing an addiction. Prior social stigma put people under the impression that substance use disorder only affects those with poor character and self-control and that addiction is a choice.

After the devastating prescription pain-killer epidemic in the late 90s, the public slightly changed its tune. Opioid misuse highlights that many struggling with addiction also face untreated trauma and mental illness.

The public’s perception of therapy and mental health has changed slightly since then. However, the link between psychological despair and drug or alcohol misuse remains under-recognized by many.

Substance use counseling addresses a patient’s overall mental well-being, including things from their past that may have led them to addiction.    

Making Behavioral Changes and Building Resilience

In substance use counseling, patients primarily work to identify relapse triggers, including specific moods, thoughts and situations. Counselors guide patients through avoiding, silencing and taking on these specific triggers as they progress through their recovery journey.

Through various exercises, patients will develop healthier coping mechanisms and mental and emotional resilience to deal with difficulties they may face as they work to rebuild their lives.

Substance use counselors have various techniques to help patients, such as cognitive and dialectical behavioral therapy, as well as couples and family counseling. These approaches all patients to address their specific needs, ensuring each counseling session contributes meaningfully to their recovery progress.

Remaining Committed in Recovery

Life in recovery can get hectic! Repairing the damage of addiction can become a full-time job once the cravings and urge to use are a distant memory.

As patients work hard to rejoin society and repair strained relationships, they may inadvertently neglect their ongoing recovery efforts. Routine counseling sessions helps maintain focus, set goals and reflect, even during times of stress.

Reaffirming the lifelong commitment to recovery is essential to long-term success for everyone with substance use disorder.   

Staying the Course at AppleGate Recovery

AppleGate Recovery understands that addiction is a chronic illness that requires specialized, multi-dimensional care. Throughout their recovery journey, each patient in medication-assisted treatment (MAT) has access to compassionate and knowledgeable medical providers, nursing staff and substance use counselors (where offered).

With evidence-based treatment methods and substance use counseling, patients at AppleGate Recovery have the greatest chances of long-term success in treatment. To learn more about patient intake or MAT, message or call the nearest location today.