Simcoe Addiction and Mental Health

Simcoe Addiction & Mental Health
therapist during a session with client, What is An Addiction Therapist

What is An Addiction Therapist

Addiction is a challenging hurdle in the journey of life. It often begins as the result of traumatic past experiences, easy access to substances, or even self-medication for certain mental health conditions. It may later develop into an addiction disorder if not checked.

Addiction to substance abuse affects more people than one might think. According to Canadian Substance Abuse Statistics, about 6 million people will have meet the criteria for addiction in their lifetime.

There is a silver lining to this cloud – people living with addiction are not alone. Addiction therapists can help with surviving and conquering the condition using guided and tested methods.

Let’s explore how addiction therapists can help one turn their life around and the benefits that addiction therapy provides to the candidates.

What is an Addiction Therapist?

An addiction therapist is a professional who is an expert in the impacts of substance abuse and addiction on a person. They help people living with addiction create a recovery path using both mental and physical treatments.

Addiction therapists are also responsible for evaluating an addiction patient’s health, their mental state and condition, the health of their social relationships, etc., to recommend treatments. With help from these professionals, clients learn skills to manage their addiction and proceed toward recovery.

Addiction therapists are also involved closely with the patient’s family and friends to help them understand the patient’s situation and guide their interaction and approach to be more positive and helpful for their recovery.

What Does an Addiction Therapist Do?

Addiction therapists are responsible for guiding their patients toward recovery using mental, physical, or a combination of treatments. Their expertise lies in understanding the causes and impact of addiction on the patients and those around them.

Addiction therapists have the following scope:

  • Perform a full evaluation of an addiction patient’s mental and physical health and addiction condition.
  • Teach the patient not one but several healthy and positive coping strategies and mechanisms to manage addiction impulses and symptoms.
  • Assist patients in recognizing and understanding the triggers that lead to repetitive and uncontrollable substance abuse. This approach helps patients take control of their recovery journey and become accountable for their actions and health.

The role of addiction therapists thus becomes pivotal in aiding the recovery of the people living with addiction.

How is Addiction Therapy Different from Traditional Counselling?

Therapy and counselling are two different concepts that borrow from the same foundation. While addiction therapy and traditional counselling are both targeted toward aiding recovery, the approaches and methods used in each are different.

Traditional counselling is a more direct approach in which the counsellor is more actively involved in guiding a patient to recovery. This approach is more standardized and uses universal practices proven effective in the field. At least in the beginning, the counsellor may provide a formatted and well-planned treatment.

Furthermore, traditional counselling is a more focused approach where an addiction patient may not get a free hand in counsellor-patient conversations. The professional may ask direct questions and urge the patients to stay on topic.

On the other hand, addiction therapy is considered to be explorative. It is an open-ended session that can be steered according to the patient, depending on their recovery goals and behaviours they would like to change.

Therapies are better suited for addiction patients who wish to get to the root of the problem. Addiction therapists help patients understand their psyche and confront their past to make a positive change in their lifestyle, behaviours, and habits in the present and the future.

Who Can Benefit From an Addiction Therapist?

Anyone who is experiencing addiction to substances can benefit from sessions with an addiction therapist. These professionals remain actively involved in the treatment while allowing the patients to steer their journey to recovery based on their self-determined goals.

Those with a history of unchecked substance abuse can also seek help from addiction therapists to help correct their behaviours and inclinations as a preventive measure to prevent an addiction from developing fully.

Since addiction therapy deals with facing the past and life’s challenges head-on, it can help to identify triggers, stressors, and other factors that lead to compulsive drug/alcohol use.

There are several online resources one can access to find help and assistance for managing addiction and associated behaviours, for example, guides and contacts for correctional/disciplinary homes.

What Are the Job Requirements and Responsibilities for Addiction Therapists?

The sensitive nature of an addiction therapist’s job requires several qualifications and a range of expertise to provide the right guidance to those in need. For those aiming to become addiction therapists, it is important to understand that the job requires more than engaging in a conversation with addiction patients.

The basic skill requirements for an addiction therapist are compassion, empathy, and the skill to build and foster relationships with complex individuals who have had a troublesome journey through life.

The process to become an addiction therapist is as follows

  • Education: The aspirants should undertake a master’s program in counselling. This teaches them the foundational concepts that define human growth and development and how social and cultural ecosystems work. It also involves learning group work and evaluation.
  • Supervised hours: It is mandatory for the aspirants to clock in a certain number of hours that a licensed practitioner supervises. The number of hours depends on which state the aspirant is based in. Upon completing the mandatory supervised hours, the aspirants may obtain their license.

In addition to qualifying academically and gaining niche experience, the scope for addiction therapists also involves the following responsibilities:

  • Conducting individual or group therapies.
  • Developing individualized and personalized treatment plans.
  • Planning contingency protocols for each addiction patient.
  • Performing evaluations and assessments to gather as much information as possible pertaining to a patient’s addiction.
  • Actively working with patients to avoid or manage relapse if contingent situations do occur.
  • Provide patients with referrals to other professionals who can help them improve their lives.
  • Keep meticulous records of each patient they treat to enable treatment refinement and finetuning.

Remember that addiction is not an individual problem but a social one. It is important for addiction therapists to understand that a conducive and positive environment must be reinforced around a patient to aid their recovery healthily.

How Addiction Therapists Help in Addiction Recovery

Addiction therapists adopt 5 unique methods to help those in need find their way back to healthier lifestyles:

1. Create a Therapeutic Alliance with Patience

The most challenging aspect of addiction is not the drug abuse itself but the process of seeking and asking for help. It is possible that a patient has been forced to attend therapy, or they may not want to be judged for their addiction owing to social stigma.

Addiction therapists thus attempt to create a bond of trust with their patients, an alliance where they are allowed to feel and talk freely without judgment. It takes time to build this trust and make a patient comfortable enough to share their experiences.

Addiction therapists have several ways of encouraging a therapeutic alliance:

  • Establishing a sense of connection that respects and preserves the dignity of all individuals involved.
  • Collaborative approaches to understanding the patient’s condition and aiding decision-making.
  • Mutual trust solidifies the patient’s trust in the process and the therapist’s trust in the patient’s healing capacity.

2. Encourage Patient Recovery

Motivation to improve can easily turn into frustration of abstinence, which can get in the way of recovery. Given that addiction therapists have little control over their patient’s desire to change habits, the experts explore and devise ways to encourage recovery among patients.

Therapists thus frequently adapt and evolve the treatment and their approaches to help find avenues for patients to stay on course. It may involve a deeper exploration of triggers and skill-building that enables rediscovering the motivation to improve.

3. Help Patients Develop a Relapse Prevention Plan

Addiction therapists help their patients create relapse prevention plans that are tailored to the patient’s behavioural patterns. A relapse prevention plan may include aspects like:

  • Substance abuse experience of the patient.
  • Warning signs of a relapse and how to manage them.
  • A support network of friends and family who can be there promptly to help prevent a relapse.
  • Contingency protocol in case of relapse.
  • Lifestyle changes and education to help reinforce a healthy and positive body and mind.

4. Meet with Family Members to Provide Guidance

Addiction is as challenging for friends and family as it is for the patients themselves. The chief hurdle in helping the patient’s family understand the addiction is educating them on respecting and understanding the suffering of the patient.

In an attempt to enforce a patient’s recovery, family members may inadvertently trigger the need to use the patient again.

Addiction therapists thus work with friends and family to help them establish a respectful relationship with the patient during the time of their recovery. They also provide guidance and resources on how to be accountable for the recovery of the patient.

5. Refer Patients to outside Support Groups

Addiction therapists recognize the complexity of treating addiction in their patients, which is why they are open to recommending external sources of help if the situation requires it. For example, therapists may refer a patient to attend local support groups to create meaningful social connections with people in similar situations.

It helps the therapists provide a second barrier to relapse because establishing community bonding creates a circle of accountability. It also provides the patients with support and encouragement from other people who understand and relate to the situation and can empathize with them.

Where Do Addiction Therapists Work?

Addiction therapists work in a variety of establishments and institutions, depending on their specialties or range of expertise:

  • In detox centers, to help provide targeted and consistent treatment to their patients.
  • In hospitals, to give patients better access to treatments.
  • In rehab facilities and sober residencies.
  • In substance abuse treatment centers.
  • In outpatient mental health centers.

Licensed practitioners may have their own clinics to provide guidance to those in need.

There is also the option of seeking help from experienced addiction therapists to treat addiction disorders online through websites of established and dedicated facilities.

The Path Of Addiction

Addiction to substance abuse is rarely a voluntary choice. It can put the individual on an extremely difficult path to recovery. However, with help from an experienced addiction therapist, the individual can have a normal and healthy future.

The support of near and dear ones plays a pivotal role in fostering a positive, respectful environment while maintaining accountability for the addiction patient. The journey to recovery may be tough, but with the help of addiction therapists, a better future is possible.

To understand addiction, its impacts, the treatments, and therapies in greater detail, visit Simcoe Addiction and Mental Health today.