Why Counseling Is So Important For Addiction Recovery

When you struggle with alcohol or drug addiction (also called substance use disorder), it’s important to get a personalized treatment plan. That’s because each person with the disease has unique needs.

However, there’s one treatment method that likely benefits everyone: counseling. 

Counseling & Addiction Treatment

Drug addiction is a brain disease that makes you chemically dependent on a drug. That means your body needs the drug to function. When you stop using it, you’ll experience unpleasant withdrawal symptoms like shaking, sweating, and anxiety. 

These withdrawal symptoms lead many people to relapse (start using drugs again). 

That’s why most addiction treatment plans start with medical detox, in which doctors help you slowly stop using drugs with minimal withdrawal symptoms. After completing detox, some people assume their recovery is complete.

However, medical detox only treats chemical dependency. It does not treat the numerous psychological components of addiction, such as triggers, cravings, and co-occurring mental health concerns

That’s where counseling comes in. 

Benefits Of Counseling

In addiction counseling, a mental health counselor works with you to process the mental and emotional effects of addiction. For instance, your counselor can help you:

  • identify your triggers (people, places, or other things that make you want to abuse drugs)
  • develop coping strategies to manage triggers, such as deep breathing, journaling, and mindfulness meditation
  • address underlying issues that contributed to your drug abuse, such as stress, grief, or trauma
  • manage co-occurring mental health conditions, such as anxiety disorders, eating disorders, and psychotic disorders

Other benefits depend on the type of addiction counseling. 

Types Of Addiction Counseling

There are various types of addiction counseling, and each offers unique benefits. The most popular types include:

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

When you live with drug addiction, you’ll likely develop unhelpful beliefs, such as “I’ll never get better” or “If I relapse, I’m a failure.” 

In cognitive-behavioral therapy, a behavioral health professional will help you adopt more helpful beliefs, such as “I can get better” and “Relapse is a normal part of recovery.” 

Your therapist can also help you adopt healthy behaviors to distract you from drug cravings, such as exercising, cooking nutritious foods, and spending time with supportive friends. 

Family Therapy

Addiction can wreak havoc on your relationships with your family members. Family conflict adds extra stress to your life, making recovery even more difficult. 

In family therapy, an addiction counselor will help you and your loved ones resolve conflicts in a safe, supportive environment. 

The counselor will also educate your family on how addiction works and teach them specific ways to support your long-term recovery. 

Group Therapy

When recovering from addiction, many people feel alone and misunderstood. In group therapy, you’ll meet people facing the same challenges you are. A mental health counselor will lead the therapy sessions by teaching recovery-related skills. 

In addition, each group member will be given the opportunity to discuss personal challenges and receive feedback from the therapist and other group members. This part of group therapy can help you improve your communication skills. 

You may also develop friendships that last longer after therapy ends and help you maintain recovery. 

Motivational Interviewing (MI)

One of the most common signs of drug addiction is loss of motivation. Thus, even after you start your recovery journey, you may struggle to stay motivated. In motivational interviewing, a substance abuse counselor will help you find and maintain the drive to stay sober. 

You’ll be asked to identify specific things that make you want to give up drugs. 

For example, you might realize that continued drug use would lead to damaged relationships or job loss. Your therapist would then encourage you to focus on your loved ones or your work whenever you feel tempted to relapse. 

Contingency Management (CM)

Like motivational interviewing, contingency management boosts your motivation to stay sober. Each time you pass a drug test or make another positive step toward recovery, you’ll receive a tangible reward, such as cash or a gift card. 

These rewards (also called motivational incentives) reinforce your decision to get clean and make you more likely to keep progressing in your recovery. 

12-Step Facilitation Therapy 

If you attend a 12-step program like Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous, you’ve probably heard of 12-step facilitation therapy. This type of substance abuse counseling encourages you to:

  • accept that addiction is a chronic disease and that you must become sober to make your life manageable
  • surrender to a higher power and accept the fellowship and support of other people in recovery
  • become actively involved in 12-step support group meetings, where you can connect with other people in recovery and learn important coping strategies

Most people receive more than one type of addiction counseling. No matter which types you choose, counseling can significantly reduce your risk of relapse and strengthen your mental wellness. 

If you or a loved one struggles with drug addiction, please reach out to Northeast Addictions Treatment Center. Our substance abuse treatment programs provide personalized, evidence-based care to help you stay drug-free. 


National Institute on Drug Abuse — 12-Step Facilitation Therapy (Alcohol, Stimulants, Opiates)

National Institute on Drug Abuse — Behavioral Therapies

National Institute on Drug Abuse — Treatment Approaches for Drug Addiction DrugFacts

United States National Library of Medicine — Drug Use and Addiction

Written by
Northeast Addition Editorial Team

©2024 Northeast Addition Center | All Rights Reserved

This page does not provide medical advice.