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THE ROLE OF COUNSELING IN ADDICTION TREATMENT

The effect of addiction is much more than substance abuse; the issues are psychological, usually resulting from an event in the past.

For this reason, addicts need professional psychological help to ease and speed up their recovery process. Counselors that help with addict’s recovery can do so because they understand and can communicate with them effectively.

Below is the role of counselors in addiction treatment:

  • EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION

For a counselor, the essential part of their job is to have excellent communication with the addict. These addicts have many uncertainties, doubts, and questions running through their minds during their recovery process. As a counselor, it is crucial to communicate with them with empathy and understanding.

  • GOOD ENCOURAGEMENT

Addicts that are recovering are struggling to find their place during recovery and give meaning to their life. Often, it could be not easy, and there are times when they would want to give up on recovering. This is where an addiction counselor came in by encouraging the addict to continue and stick with treatment.

  • GREAT LISTENERS

Listening is a skill that not many possess as it requires paying special attention, but should be found in a counselor. Addicts have many emotions running through their minds and need someone to listen to them intently. Listening in counseling is as essential as dispersing advice and helping the addict through the recovery process. 

  • TRUST BUILDING

It is easy for an addict to feel rebellious, to have an emotional meltdown, and not want to go on with treatment. This behavior could result from a lack of trust, and this is where a counselor comes in. They build trust with the addict through excellent communication and active listening. 

Without trust, the addict will remain in his own shell and not have a quick recovery.

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HOW DOES ADDICTION WORK IN THE BRAIN

The brain is the central processing system for every of the body’s activities. It has a vast network of neurons that transmit information and electrical impulses to every part of the body. This intelligently created system has a build of reactors that are prompted to react to any external body within the body system.

The brain maintains a state of homeostasis (this is the situation where every of the body’s functions is kept at the optimum working conditions). Any change in the internal balance of the body results in the release of chemical substances to restore equilibrium.

Intake of drugs and other related substances disturb the internal balance of the body. So in response, the brain releases a substance called Dopamine. The release of Dopamine is what is responsible for the feeling of “highness” in persons. 

The brain has an ancient system called the Limbic system. It is described as the reward system of the body. It accounts for why people feel the excitement and total dependency on substances and acts. Dopamine is the chief transmitter in this reward system. 

When an individual takes a drug or a related substance, dopamine is released into the neural pathway. Normally, dopamine is supposed to pass through the pathway and be sucked up by the presynaptic neuron. By drugs change this normal sequence by ensuring dopamine is either not sucked up or it is released in excess quantities. 

The continual delay of dopamine in the neural pathway increases the feeling of “highness” thus creating delusions.

As one of the brain’s superpower is adapting to changes and creating equilibrium, the brain perceives this change to be the new homeostasis. When next the individual takes the drug, he/she might not feel that sensation of “highness”. This forces them to take more amounts of the substance.

This act is what causes addiction. As the brain keeps adjusting the homeostasis, the individual will need more of the drug to become high. The limbic system is continually fed here hence the need to depend on the substance for feelings of enjoyment and excitement. 

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UNDERSTANDING THE FOUR STAGES OF ADDICTION

Quite several factors contribute to addiction, examples are genetic factors, environmental or peer influence, personal behavioral patterns, etc. Nevertheless, professional that deal with addicted patients have come to a conclusion that there are four stages of addiction which every addict goes through.

Stage 1: EXPERIMENTATION

This is the basics and foundation of addiction even though it does not end up as addiction in everyone who goes through it.

Experimentations are very rampant in young people as they like to try out new things despite knowing the effect. Meanwhile, experimentation is not always harmless, it can be a path to a lifelong addiction that is difficult to break out from.

Stage 2: REGULAR INDULGING

Some people would stop at experimenting, but this stage involves continual use or indulging in that particular act or drug.

At this phase, the victim involved might start to feel ashamed or guilty for his actions but would continue regardless, making excuses for himself. This phase also comes with withdrawal, change in behavior, and most likely the early physical symptoms of whatever addiction is involved.

Stage 3: ABUSE

At this stage. the user begins to prioritize the substance over other aspects of his life, being so engrossed in the addictions. The transition from stage 2 to 3 is hardly detected as it happens too fast and almost unnoticeable. At this stage, the user damns every consequence and does not even think or care about the repercussion of his actions.

Stage 4: ADDICTION AND SUBSTANCE DEPENDENCE.

This is the final and last stage of addiction, and one of the characteristics is that it affects the physical and mental health of the user.

Other characteristics are; poor performance at work, loss of concentration, jeopardized personal relationships, etc. at stage four, the user has reached a point that he never thought or imagined he would reach when he was still experimenting at stage one.   

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HOW TO HELP AN ADDICTED RELATIVE OR FRIEND

In the addiction process, not only the user is affected, those who are close by like family are friends also feel the impact of the addiction.

Clashes are also bound to happen, due to the change in behavioral patterns of the user which the family is not used to. Below are some tips and ways on how to help an addicted family member or friend;

  • TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF

In trying to care for the addict, do not lose yourself as frustrate and the transfer of aggression can set in. if the addict’s stress is adding to your own, it could result from resentment or even mental breakdown.

To be strong and mentally balanced enough to support this your loved one, it is important that you sleep well, eat good food, socialize, exercise, anything to put you in good shape.

  • GET KNOWLEDGE

Ignorance of the addict’s disease will stress you out as you do not understand their behavioral patterns and mood change.

It is important to educate yourself adequately about addiction and its victim to understand the addict’s struggles. There are a lot of resources provided on this, and you can do your researches, read up on them, you could even join groups, anything to gain knowledge.

  • DO NOT EXPECT TOO MUCH

Preaching or trying to lecture the addict at this stage is a total waste of time and even compounding the problem. Instead, be gentle with them, offer to help when they need it, do not react to them with pity or anger. 

  • ENCOURAGE THEM TO GET HELP

Instead of condemning their already done deed, encourage them to get help, make them see reasons why the pattern of addiction is dangerous. However, do not be surprised if they turn you down or even turn a deaf ear to all of your encouragement. However, be persistent on how important it is to get help and to get it as soon as possible

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THE IMPORTANCE OF AFTERCARE PROGRAMS FOR ADDICTION RECOVERY

Aftercare is a plan for the recovery person to support them in early recovery, to prevent relapse, and to help them towards their other goals. While Aftercare programs is a follow up treatment that an addict receives after leaving a rehabilitation center.

DIFFERENT TYPES OF AFTERCARE PROGRAMS

  1. Support Groups: there are quite a number of support groups that helps the recovery of a patient to be fast after leaving the rehab center.
  2. Counseling and therapy: the patient can book sessions with a counselor, could be daily or even once a week. This is the most important part of discovery, as the patient is able to talk to a professional.

IMPORTANCE

  • To prevent relapse

The ultimate goal of an aftercare program is to follow up on the patient and help prevent a relapse. They build a plan that they patient can stick with after treatments at the rehabilitation center.

  • Quicken recovery

The true work for an addict begins after rehabilitation has, they have to integrate with the society and mingle with other individuals. Aftercare programs would help such that they can join support group, meet new people and know that they are no alone in the journey of recovery. The mental knowledge of this would help to quicken their recovery.

  • Provide guidance

These victims are more or less clueless about how to get their life back together after getting out of the rehabilitation center. An aftercare program put in place for them with the right set of counselors and guide would help them get back to a point of focus.

  •  Rebuilding

Accountability and a sense of responsibility are values that need to be rebuilt in victims after rehab. It is important that they do not belittle themselves or look down on themselves because of the past experience and mistakes. Their financial stability also needs to built and an aftercare program will definitely take care of this.

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A SHORT STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE TO OVERCOMING ADDICTION

An addiction is a state that is characterized by compulsive substance use or compulsive rewarding behavior, despite negative consequences.

Overcoming an addiction is never as easy as becoming addicted in the first place, it is a tedious journey that requires conscious effort. However, below are step-by-step guide help overcome addiction and make the journey less rough;

  • ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

The first step to overcoming any vice is acknowledging your weakness of that vice, the same applies to overcoming addiction.

Being aware and acknowledging that you have an addiction is a necessary step that speeds up the transformation. In this stage also, you must decide to be willing to make every necessary stage to overcome your addiction.

  • TAKING RESPONSIBILITY

Nobody has ever overcome addictions by pushing blames or making excuses for themselves. At this stage, the user has to be very blunt with himself and stop justifying the reasons why he became addicted. It is also to forgive yourself for every mistake, push it behind you and be optimistic about a great change

  • SELF EVALUATION

At this stage, you will need to ask yourself some tough questions and meditate deeply on them. Questions that can help you find the clarity needed to overcome your addiction. After answering those questions and being satisfied with them, use them to generate new behaviors, habits, and patterns.

  • CONSEQUENCE ASSESSMENT

The next step to overcoming addiction is to consider the consequences of not stopping or changing that pattern of life. 

  • TAKE IT STEP-BY-STEP

As Rome was not built in a day, so also will addiction not be overcome in a little time, it takes consistency and a lot of effort. The goal is to progressively build new patterns until it eventually becomes a habit that is now part of you. There are times when the user might relapse into the habits, it is all part of the process, stand up again and make corrections