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What To Expect in Addiction Counseling

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Medically Reviewed By: Diana Vo, LMFT

November 28, 2023

Table of Contents

The 2018 NSDUH (National Survey on Drug Use and Health)  showed that over 20 million Americans have a substance use disorder. This number translates to about 1 in 13 Americans needing treatment for a range of substance abuse problems. Addiction and substance abuse disorders can affect anyone, regardless of age, gender, background or education. Therefore, we need addiction counseling to improve recovery outcomes.

Counseling is a core component of any successful recovery plan, so what can you expect from counseling for alcohol addiction or drug abuse?

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6 Things To Expect From Addiction Counseling

  1. A good counselor will treat your experience as unique
  2. You should look to form a strong bond with your counselor
  3. Your counselor will encourage your recovery
  4. A counselor can help make things easier for your family
  5. Work with your counselor to formulate a relapse plan
  6. Benefit from referrals to outside support groups if required

1) A good counselor will treat your experience as unique

Everyone struggling with a drink or drug problem has a unique experience.

If you run across a counselor who peddles a cookie-cutter approach to recovery, you should run a mile. Your recovery is too important to leave in the hands of a practitioner not prepared to help you kickstart your personal journey to sustained recovery.

A good counselor will treat you as an individual rather than a textbook case study. If you don’t feel your needs will be satisfied, you should seek an alternative counselor.

2) You should look to form a strong bond with your counselor

Deciding to seek treatment for addiction is a major decision that calls for a great deal of trust between you and any counselor you engage.

Once you begin treatment, you should hopefully form a strong therapeutic alliance with your counselor. The more you feel your counselor is trustworthy, the more easily you can expose your vulnerability and work on effectively conquering any obstacles to ongoing recovery.

Signs that an appropriate level of trust is in place include feeling relieved after your appointment, feeling the desire to return, and feeling comfortable speaking openly during your addiction counseling sessions.

All roads to recovery become rocky from time to time. Ensuring you have the right environment in place where you can analyze any problems and formulate solutions is a valuable way to minimize any chance of relapse.

3) Your counselor will encourage your recovery

Denial is a major issue in addiction, and even if you recognize that you have a problem with drink or drugs and you start down the road to recovery, you’ll inevitably encounter roadblocks on the way. Without the right support framework in place, you could easily give in to temptation and justify relapse to yourself.

When you’re undergoing addiction counseling, though, you’ll have someone in your corner who will continuously and actively encourage your recovery as well as your adherence to any program you’re following.

Counseling is a fluid discipline and the modern approach to motivation for recovery involves the counselor empowering you to identify your motivation for change. This can be much more effective than being challenged about your habits. The more you learn to recognize aberrant behaviors, the more easily you can correct them. A good counselor will help you to take ownership of these problems and they’ll help you to execute meaningful change.

4) A counselor can help make things easier for your family

Recovering from substance abuse is a process of healing not just for the addict but for the whole family.

An image of a group doing community activities, showing an example of what to expect in addiction counseling

If you have a loved one addicted to drink or drugs, you’ll have likely witnessed extreme mood swings and severe withdrawal symptoms if they tried to detox at home.

Spending time in a residential rehab center can feel like a cocoon for the person in recovery with all basic needs taken care of. Returning home, by contrast, can present a range of difficulties for everyone.

A good counselor will support your loved ones as well as supporting you. From providing education about substance abuse to offering structured guidance on how your loved ones can better help you, the right counselor can perform a powerful service for all the family.

From intervention to recovery and ongoing sobriety, an addiction counselor should be a crucial liaison between you and your family as you all adjust to shifting roles and a fresh, sober beginning.

5) Work with your counselor to formulate a relapse plan

Among those treated for addiction, the rate of relapse is anywhere from 20% to 50% depending on the criteria for remission and the severity of the addiction.

Although remarkably common – some would argue almost an inevitable part of recovery – relapse can do more than jeopardize your hard-won sobriety. Relapse puts you at increased risk of overdose, compounded if your tolerance has dramatically lowered and you use the same amount as you did before.

Even if you appreciate the downside of relapse, resisting temptation can be hard without a fixed plan in place and the motivation to stick with it. A counselor will help you determine what people or places might trigger you into wanting to drink or use drugs. You’ll formulate coping mechanisms so you can resist any cravings you experience.

6) Benefit from referrals to outside support groups if required

Community-based support in the form of third-party support groups can be a highly effective part of ongoing recovery.

You might find it advantageous to attend 12-step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous. If so, a counselor can refer to the most convenient program.

A community-based program can help to keep you more accountable. By attending meetings, you’ll also benefit from plenty of peer support, especially valuable if you don’t have a wide network of supportive friends and family. You’ll also have a backdrop where you can safely request help or support without facing any judgment or stigma.

A good addiction counselor will also help to connect you with any resources you were unaware of that could help you stick with the challenging but rewarding road to recovery.

Alcohol Addiction Counseling

Alcoholism counseling caters to the needs of those facing alcohol abuse disorders and personalizes the programming and therapy to aspects that alcoholism negatively effects. In alcohol addiciton counseling you can expect a mixture of evidence based therapies and treatments to help individuals health from alcohol abuse. Therapy is an extremely important part and often includes family therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and emotional enhancement therapy. By including these therapies it allows our alcohol addiction experts heal all aspects of you life so you can emotionally heal and focus on your wellness and sobriety.

Drug Addiction Counseling

Drug addiction counselors help those facing drug addiction explore what caused their substance abuse, help share and process emotions, and pinpoint negative thought patterns and behaviors that contribute to their harmful actions. Drug addiction counselors utilize evidence based treatments to provide clients with the skills, coping mechanism, and relapse prevention strategies to create a long term treatment plan to ensure a lasting recovery from substance abuse.

Get Addiction Counseling With Renaissance Recovery

If exploring what to expect from an addiction counselor has piqued your interest, we would urge you to explore the many benefits of counseling for sustained recovery from alcohol or drug addiction.

Call us right now at 866.330.9449 or complete this online contact form, and we’ll help you kickstart your recovery.



At Renaissance Recovery our goal is to provide evidence-based treatment to as many individuals as possible. Give us a call today to verify your insurance coverage or to learn more about paying for addiction treatment.

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Joseph Gilmore has been in the addiction industry for three years with experience working for facilities all across the country. Connect with Joe on LinkedIn.

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