What Role Does Psychotherapy Play in Substance Abuse Counseling?

Last Updated: Sep 21st 2020

Reviewed by Brittany Polansky

The National Survey on Drug Use and Health states that over 19 million Americans have battled substance abuse in 2017 alone. For many of those seeking recovery, substance abuse counseling and psychotherapy are important life-changing tools.

If you or someone you love is battling substance abuse and is considering substance abuse counseling, read on to learn more about how this effective technique can help with many addictions.

What is Substance Abuse

Many substance cases of abuse are most commonly associated with addiction to alcohol or drugs, by definition substance abuse includes overindulgence or dependence on any form of an addictive substance.

While substance abuse can be a life-changing condition, it is possible that with the right help and persistence an individual can free themselves of addiction for life. 

Recognizing the Signs and Symptoms of Substance Abuse

For many, the first step in curing substance abuse is being able to admit that a problem is indeed present.

The challenge is knowing whether or not the individual is exhibiting addictive behaviors.

Some signs and symptoms of substance abuse may include:

  • Insomnia or difficulty sleeping
  • Either a dramatic increase or decrease in appetite 
  • Palm is that feel clammy or sweaty
  • Consistently watery eyes or pupils that are either larger or smaller than normal
  • Unusual body odor
  • Extreme energy
  • Rapid speech
  • Speech that is dramatically slower than usual
  • Needle marks also known as track marks that can be found on the arm leg or feet
  • Vomiting
  • Shaking hands
  • A consistently runny nose
  • New habits like consistently rubbing the nose
  • The twisting of the jaw

There are also some behavioral signs that may occur with addiction. The signs include: 

  • Heightened paranoia
  • A short temper
  • Unusual silliness
  • Short patience
  • A rapid decline in personal grooming and hygiene
  • Secretive or mysterious behavior

If you or someone you love is exhibiting such signs or symptoms it’s wise to consider addiction as a suitable explanation and to seek out help to begin recovery.

How to Help Someone Battling Drug Addiction

If someone you love is battling with substance abuse or drug addiction there comes a point where you must understand that you cannot fix the problem by yourself.

However, there are steps you can take to help increase their chance of recovery and to let them know that they are loved and supported.

First, it’s important to identify how strong the addiction actually is. By gauging the severity of the symptoms listed above you can get a general idea of how much help and intervention you will be able to provide.

Next, don’t be afraid to discuss the problem. You may be worried about the pushback you might receive from your friend or loved one when addressing their addiction. However, you are doing more harm than good by ignoring the subject and pretending it doesn’t exist

On the same note, it’s important not to be an enabler. This means not loaning money to the attic or helping them escape the consequences of their addictive behavior.

Finally, you may find that it’s necessary for intervention to occur. In this case, you and your family can come together in order to express your concern, to let them know how important they are to you, and to encourage them to get the help they need. 

Treatment and Recovery Options for Substance Abuse

Depending on the degree of addiction, you may seek out different forms of recovery when faced with this condition.

For some, simply attending substance abuse counseling or meetings is enough to make an impact to change. For others, more extreme actions such as rehabilitation centers may be required.

Why Substance Abuse Counseling and Psychotherapy are Important 

No matter what you are addicted to, even following the detox stage there is still the chance of relapse occurring.

For this reason, it’s important to tap into the psychological triggers that cause you to indulge in the addictive substance, to begin with.

Often triggers such as stress, environment, and our social networks play a major influence in our ongoing addiction. 

Through the use of psychotherapy, these triggers can be addressed and avoided. A psychotherapist can also help you address the necessary techniques to help reduce the chance of a relapse in the event of a trigger.

How Substance Abuse Counseling and Psychotherapy Work

There are typically two modes of counseling and therapy that can be taken. You must choose whether you would like to pursue individual therapy, group therapy, or a mixture of the two. 

Individual therapy allows you to dedicate more time to digging into your specific triggers to help avoid them in the future. While group therapy allows you to create a support group and to take comfort in the fact that you are not alone in your path to recovery.

Some recovering addicts use a combination of the two to increase their chance of a successful recovery.

It’s important to remember that even when you feel your recovery is going smoothly, it’s best to continue counseling and therapy to avoid any speed bumps that can throw off your progress.

Getting the Help You Need When You Need It

Substance abuse counseling is just one of the many important factors that go into a successful recovery. If you or someone you love is looking to end their life of addiction and to regain control over their choices and lifestyle the first and most powerful step is to ask for help.

If you’re ready to take that first step contact us today to begin your path to recovery.

Reviewed for Medical & Clinical Accuracy by Brittany Polansky

Brittany PolanskyBrittany has been working in behavioral health since 2012 and is a Primary Clinician at our facility. She is an LCSW and holds a master’s degree in social work. She has great experience with chemical dependency and co-occurring mental health diagnoses as well as various therapeutic techniques. Brittany is passionate about treating all clients with dignity and respect, and providing a safe environment where clients can begin their healing journey in recovery.