Is Counseling Effective with Recovery from Drug and Alcohol Addiction?

Many people wonder if counseling is effective for substance abuse treatment.

There are many forms of counseling available for substance abuse including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, CARC (Certified Addiction/Abuse Recovery Coaching), family therapy, etc.

The short answer is that it depends on whether the client takes it seriously and is willing to do the work. Also, no one method is a one-size-fits-all and works for every client and no one method is “better” than another.

What’s the Point of Substance Abuse Counseling?

What most people don’t understand about addiction is that it’s actually a mental obsession. The physical usage is actually a symptom. As a result, it’s not uncommon to be physically sober but not truly recovered. As long as that’s where you are, you have a very high risk of relapsing. These can include:

-changes in your life, especially sudden and negative ones.

-continuing to hang around people who use or drink.

-reactions to an environmental negativity, like abuse or being in a certain location.

True recovery doesn’t start until the mental obsession is addressed. This is where substance abuse counseling, along with aftercare programs, such as N.A. (Narcotics Anonymous) and/or A.A. (Alcoholic Anonymous) can help. Keep in mind, however, that N.A. and A.A. are exclusively peer-led and, hence, are not substitutes for therapy, counseling or recovery life coaching.

What About Individual or Group Therapy?

Group therapy usually comes with inpatient rehabilitation. This is because you’re with people in the same recovery level as you and you know that you’re not alone. Also, your peers are more likely to both challenge and support you. During that time, individual therapy is best if you also have a mental illness or disorder, such as bipolar disorder or depression.

What’s the Difference Between Inpatient and Outpatient Treatment?

Inpatient treatment is when you go into a special facility anywhere from a few weeks to a few months. It’s to get you away from the influences for a time so that you can start your recovery and learn new and healthier coping skills. However, inpatient treatment tends to cost up to tens of thousands of dollars. Not all insurance plans will cover it, either. There is also not much evidence that inpatient treatment alone heals the mental obsession enough to for the patients to stay away from drugs or alcohol. There are plenty of celebrity stories, such as Judy Garland and Lindsay Lohan, that show this as well.

As much media coverage as inpatient treatment gets, outpatient treatment is actually the norm. That way, you learn healthier skills on the go, which is more likely to keep you sober in the long run. You also don’t have to pay an arm and a leg in the process.

Types of Therapies Used for Substance Abuse Disorder

-Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

In drug and alcohol addiction, a therapist who’s trained and licensed in CBT teaches you how to correct thoughts and feelings associated with your mental obsession. They can also teach you how to avoid or reframe situations that trigger it.

-Contingency Management Therapy

Contingency Management is a type of therapy that uses motivation incentive techniques and tangible rewards to help you stay sober. It’s most common in the inpatient treatment centers. It’s most preferable for those who are unable to or have had limited success with taking certain medications to stay sober. It helps to retrain the pleasure centers of the brain.

-Motivational Interviewing

This is a technique in which the therapist helps the client stay motivated to sobriety reframing the their thoughts toward their main goals and/or their focus on their families. It involves helping the client to identify inconsistencies between the two, empathy through reflective listening and to adjust resistance. The second technique involves paraphrasing the idea back to the client for clarification and understanding.

-Couples and Family Therapy

They say that addiction is a family disease because everyone around you is also affected by it. Your family or loved ones get just as addicted to worrying about you as you do to using. If your bond with your family and/or partner is strong enough, mutual transformation can be very powerful.

-Addiction/Abuse Life Coaching

As the name suggests, life coaching helps you to focus on your main goals for your life. It often involves techniques to help you maintain your self-accountability and reframing your thoughts.


Getting sober is not easy. But with the proper support and counseling, it is possible to maintain your sobriety.

Please contact us today at 833-364-0736.