There is perhaps more awareness about substance use disorders than ever before. While substance use disorders impact physical health, they are, first and foremost, a mental health issue. Complete substance abuse help must always include mental health support. Drugs and alcohol are frequently used to alleviate symptoms of co-occurring psychological conditions. Substance use often exacerbates existing mental health issues and even causes problems that didn’t exist prior to using.
The Different Roles of Those Who Help
When seeking psychological support and addiction therapy, you will encounter people in different roles. These include therapists, counselors and life or recovery coaches. Understand these positions aren’t interchangeable. While each provides substance abuse help in one form or another, which is right for you will depend on a number of factors, including:
- How much substance abuse help will you need: Are you new to the world of recovery? Have you had much exposure to therapy or formal counseling?
- What stage are you at in your recovery: Have you completed detox and treatment? Are you seeking outpatient addiction therapy?
- Your resources and how much time you can commit: Do you have health insurance or financial help? What are your responsibilities?
These are some factors to consider in gauging the type of substance abuse help most appropriate for you. Not all addiction treatment is created equal. There is a substantial difference between residential treatment where you have a team of clinicians dedicated to you, seeing a counselor once a week and having a “sober coach” to help with accountability. All are helpful, but they are most effective when used at the right stage of recovery.
Substance Abuse Help Roles Defined
One of the great things about recovery is what can be accomplished when people help one another. Whether it’s the power of one member of a fellowship helping another in a non-professional relationship or someone with clinical training providing guidance, the synergistic effect is undeniable. There are lots of people who can help. All it takes on your part is an open mind and some willingness. Here is an explanation of each role we mentioned and where it fits into the process:
A team of professionals that includes a psychiatrist, psychologist and licensed mental health therapists is an ideal starting point. This is the standard for inpatient addiction treatment programs like Promises Brazos Valley. The team collaborates on a treatment plan suited to your specific set of challenges and goals. The goal is to give you the best possible start as you enter recovery following treatment.
Counselor or Therapist:
This is a person who has some training to provide substance abuse help. Note that there is a wide range of credentialing standards for people with these job titles. A counselor or therapist can be someone with two years of training, or it can be someone who has worked in addiction treatment for decades. Know the qualifications and experience of the person you are working with. Typically, a counselor or therapist would be someone you might see in person once a week after you complete inpatient treatment. Online or virtual counseling is also an increasingly popular option.
Life Coach or Recovery Coach:
The recovery coach is a newer form of substance abuse help that’s become more popular in recent years. They are not required to have any formal training (though they often do). Frequently they are in recovery themselves and have relevant firsthand experience. Their role differs from a counselor or therapist. They tend to be more “hands-on” and help hold you accountable. For example, a recovery coach might meet you for a cup of coffee when you’re struggling with potential relapse, or they might attend 12-step meetings or even go for a jog with you. A therapist or counselor, on the other hand, will see you only in their office and maintain a discrete professional distance.
Getting the Substance Abuse Help You Need
Each of the categories above serves a unique role in a person’s recovery. It’s important to understand that while not every person will require all of them, one is not a substitute for the other. In other words, don’t expect a counselor to play the role of a recovery coach or expect outpatient counseling to deliver the type of results an inpatient stay will. If you have any questions about addiction therapy or the types of help we discussed above, please contact Promises Brazos Valley at 800-393-0391. We welcome the chance to help in any way we can.