Alcohol counseling is one step in treating alcoholism. A counselor will be able to offer guidance and support along your journey to an alcohol-free life.
What Is Alcohol Counseling?
Alcohol counseling is an important and valuable step in treating an alcohol use disorder (AUD). A counselor will be able to offer guidance and support along your journey to an alcohol-free life. No matter how long you’ve struggled with alcoholism or how much you drink, alcohol counseling can make a huge difference in your recovery.
Many alcohol rehab facilities use comprehensive treatment plans in their treatment process. Comprehensive treatment plans are developed to treat the whole person, and typically include physical treatments such as nutrition, exercise, withdrawal management as well as emotional, mental, and spiritual treatments. They can consist of varying levels of care, including inpatient or outpatient rehabs, medication-assisted therapies, counseling sessions, support groups, and other types of treatment. Some elements of a comprehensive treatment plan, like rehab and medication-assisted therapies, can be completed over the course of a few months. Other parts, such as counseling sessions and support groups, are crucial during and after treatment for developing your recovery plan and maintaining your sobriety.
Don’t let an AUD define you. With the help of an alcohol counselor, you will be able to learn about how to manage and prevent triggers, work through cravings and live a healthier life. Contact us today to explore different types of treatment available nearby.
What Does an Alcohol Counselor Do?
Each person’s experience with an alcohol counselor will vary because the recovery process is different for everyone. Generally, you will meet with your alcohol counselor frequently individually and in group sessions within the first several months of recovery. Depending on your progression after a few months, meetings may begin to taper down. However, you can schedule a meeting with your counselor in between sessions if you’re having a difficult week or finding it hard to fight back urges to drink.
An alcohol counselor can help:
- Provide information about alcoholism and discuss the recovery process
- Put together a structured and realistic treatment and recovery plan based on your needs
- Help uncover any underlying issues and triggers associated with your drinking
- Offer tips and techniques for a successful recovery and long-term sobriety
- Give regular assessments to determine your progress
- Support you emotionally and encourage you throughout each stage of recovery
How to Choose an Alcohol Counselor
Before you begin alcohol counseling, it’s important to find a counselor that you feel comfortable with. Finding a counselor who you can be honest with, talk to, and open up to will tremendously help in your recovery process. Recognize though, that your counselor can only guide you along your recovery journey. It’s up to you to be active in your treatment and recovery and apply what you’ve learned.
Take time when researching alcohol counselors. Once you find two to three that fit what you’re looking for, talk with them about any questions or concerns you may have. This will help you choose the right counselor for you.
Keep these tips in mind when you research alcohol counselors:
Find someone with experience treating AUDs
There are many types of conditions that a counselor may treat. Narrow your search by looking for counselors who specialize in helping people with AUDs. From there, you can organize your list based off of years’ experience, location, cost and types of therapy provided. Keep a list of any questions to ask them so you can find the best fit.
Check for proper licensing
Just because a counselor holds a degree in psychology doesn’t necessarily mean they are properly licensed and/or certified in the field. Research your state’s requirements for licensed and/or certified alcohol counselors and be sure each one is credentialed. This is also a good time to see if any complaints have been brought against a counselor, as well as see if they have other patient reviews.
Ask about the types of therapies used
Counselors use different types of therapies based on the conditions they treat. Some of most common forms of therapy for alcoholism include cognitive behavioral therapy, holistic therapy and biofeedback. Sometimes a counselor will use several types of therapies in their sessions. This often depends on existing co-occurring conditions and the progress made in recovery.
Confirm accepted insurance plans
Check your insurance policy to see if the cost of counseling is covered. Your insurance provider may be able to give you a list of counselors within your network. However, while some insurance plans will cover all or a portion of counseling costs, others may only cover the costs for a predetermined number of sessions.
Listen to your gut
Make sure to go with your gut when you ultimately decide on an alcohol counselor. If you feel any sense of hesitation or uneasiness after talking with a counselor, eliminate them from your options. You should be able to have an open dialogue with a counselor and above all, trust them. Don’t second-guess how you feel.
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Types of Therapy Used to Treat Alcoholism
A wide range of therapies are used to treat different types of disorders, including alcoholism. Treatment at an inpatient rehab facility may include the following types of therapies:
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) involves a person’s thought-process and how their beliefs impact how they feel and behave. In the case of alcoholism, an individual may tell themselves that they’re a failure, unlovable and that there’s no hope for overcoming their drinking problem. A counselor who uses CBT will concentrate on these negative thoughts and show their patient how to replace them with positive views. Over time and with enough practice, CBT can help a person rebuild their confidence and self-respect.
Biofeedback is commonly used in treating the effects of alcoholism. This type of therapy teaches a person how to control bodily functions that usually happen on their own. The process of biofeedback will show you how to better manage your heart rate, muscle tension, breathing and skin temperature. For instance, while going through treatment, your heartbeat may speed up and slow down without you noticing it. During biofeedback, sensors will be placed on your finger or earlobe to measure and display your heart rate on a monitor.
Holistic therapy is a form of treatment that teaches a person how to live a balanced lifestyle. In recent years, more rehab facilities have started using different forms of holistic therapy to help patients struggling with AUDs. Some of these include meditation, energy healing, spiritual healing and acupuncture. Instead of just focusing on the physical aspects of alcoholism, holistic therapy looks at a person’s emotional and behavioral state. It helps people live better, healthier and more fulfilling lives.
The Benefits of Alcohol Counseling
Alcohol counseling has many benefits that can help you get and stay sober. The tools and techniques you learn in counseling can be applied to situations you may face at work, school and even your personal life. Although parts of counseling can be difficult, you will be able to uncover underlying issues that may have fueled your drinking and find out how to overcome them. Without digging deep, you will only be patching the problem short-term.
Several benefits of alcohol counseling are:
Setting up goals and benchmarks
During treatment, your counselor will be able to work with you on developing achievable goals and benchmarks. Some may be short-term, like overcoming an urge to drink that day or attending a self-help meeting. Other long-term achievements may include marking the anniversary of your sobriety date. Each goal you accomplish should be celebrated, even if it’s a dinner out or movie night.
Managing and Preventing triggers
Counseling will guide you in how to overcome strong impulses and desires to drink. Identifying triggers before they happen and becoming aware of triggers while they are happening are the first steps in managing them. Learning how to cope in various situations such as when you face a great deal of stress or are feeling depressed can also help in preventing triggers from arising.
Finding new hobbies
One of the fun aspects of counseling is discovering new things about yourself. Maybe there’s an activity you used to enjoy doing by stopped, or maybe there’s something you’ve always wanted to do, but never found the time. Counseling will make you think outside the box and try new activities like yoga or team sports. This also gives you the opportunity to meet other people in alcohol recovery.
Recovering from alcoholism is a process that cannot be rushed. Along the way, you will face good times as well as challenging times. Your counselor will prepare you for how to get past hurdles and other obstacles that may try to get in the way of your treatment.
Rehab facilities in the United States treat more cases of alcohol use disorders (AUDs) than any other substance each year.
Alcohol counseling is a crucial part in on-going treatment and maintaining your sobriety.
Alcohol counselors are becoming easily accessible and can be found in many rehabs, hospitals, jails, schools, community health centers and other health care programs.
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Clinical Reviewer — Last Reveiwed: December 4, 2019
National Alliance of Mental Health. Psychotherapy. November 2016. http://www.nami.org/Learn-More/Treatment/Psychotherapy
Mayo Clinic. (2016). Biofeedback. November 2016. http://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/biofeedback/home/ovc-20169724
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. (2014). Treatment for Alcohol Problems: Finding and Getting Help. October 2016. http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/treatment/treatment.htm
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2014). Alcohol Screening and Counseling. October 2016. http://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/alcohol-screening-counseling/
Florida Atlantic University. Alcohol and Drug Counseling Services. October 2016. http://www.fau.edu/counseling/Alcohol_and_Drug_Counseling_Services.pdf
National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2012). Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide (Third Edition). October 2016. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-drug-addiction-treatment/evidence-based-approaches-to-drug-addiction-treatment/behavioral-therapies
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Medication for the Treatment of Alcohol Use Disorder: A Brief Guide. October 2016. http://store.samhsa.gov/shin/content/SMA15-4907/SMA15-4907.pdf
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