Addiction: When might someone look for a counsellor with experience of alcohol or drug issues?

When might someone look for a counsellor with experience of drink or drug issues?

This video explores the role counselling / psychotherapy can play for people with drink and drug issues.

I’m Chris Murphy; I am Director of Crosscares Drug and Alcohol Programme. Is there a difference between drug and alcohol counselling and general counselling? Yes, some counsellors are trained and experienced in working with drug and alcohol problems and addictions. Some of those work individually and some of them in treatment centers. If they are working individually, they will often use the same counselling skills and approaches as a general counselor will use. If they’re working in a treatment setting, “I will talk about that later”. They will be using the whole day as part of the recovery programme.

When do you need an addiction counsellor? Well if you are concerned about your own use of drink or drugs, then it dose make sense to contact an addiction counsellor. They can provide you first of all with an assessment to see if you do have a dependency problem or not. And if you do, they can provide you with the support that you need in order to address that problem or they can refer you onto where you will get that support. Some people phone a counsellor because they are concerned about somebody else’s use of drink or drugs. It could be a young person, or it could be an adult a family member, or a spouse, partner or a parent even. It makes good sense to contact an addiction counsellor in those situations because there is a danger that one persons use of drink and drugs drags down other family members and friends. So it’s important for you to get your own feet on solid ground before your try to help another person. Especially if it’s a young person; parent’s often start fighting with each other about what way they should handle it. And it makes more sense for the parents to learn better way’s of managing their parenting. Because they will see the young person every day of the week.

Some counsellors work individually and some work in a treatment setting. Treatment setting is appropriate where there is an addiction problem or a dependency problem as we say. In a treatment centre it’s very often residential, although not always, in a residential setting the whole day is part of the recovery programme. Individual counsellors will work more with people who are having problems from their use of drink or drugs, but not necessarily strongly dependant on those drink or drugs and first of all they may help the person, especially in the case of drink, to marriage their drinking to return to controlled drinking. And if that fails then go the route of trying to give it up then altogether. I think it’s important to understand that alcohol and drugs can cause problems for people who are not necessarily dependant on alcohol or drugs. For instance a young person could steel money for drugs; it doesn’t mean that, that young person is a drug addict. Or an adult might drive under the influence of drink it doesn’t mean he or she is an alcoholic, or a person could fail to turn in for work on a Monday morning because they’ve been using cocaine or drink over the weekend, again it doesn’t necessarily mean that they have a dependency problem.

Any of these people could benefit from talking to an addiction counsellor because drugs or alcohol are no ordinary commodity because normally and often people experience an enjoyment when they use those; at least at the beginning and that makes us want to use them again and even when they become a problem people can find it very hard to cut them down or to give them up despite our own best intentions, and despite our promises to ourselves. And that’s why addiction counselling is different from other forms of counselling because its dealing with this strange product that makes us conflicted between wanting to give it up and not wanting to give it up; that’s what makes addiction counselling different.

Counselling helps by providing the support and the motivation to do something about the problem, to cut it down and if that doesn’t work, to cut it out.