Seeking Counseling After Recovery

Home / Sober Living Alumni Resources / Seeking Counseling After Recovery

Most treatment centers will recommend post-treatment therapy. There is much research that shows a direct correlation between drug abuse and mental illness. Some people use substances to self-medicate. If this is true, then the underlying mental health issue needs to be addressed. This is important in preventing relapse. And seeking therapy after treatment can help deal with some symptoms of withdrawal.

Whether you use drugs to self-medicate or not, there may be trauma associated with your addiction that needs to be addressed, as well. Addiction can be seen as a form of mental illness. In fact, many psychiatric doctors considered it a disease of the brain. That’s not to say that having an addiction is a character flaw or part of a person’s personality, rather, that drugs change our brains’ processes and have negative impacts physiologically, just like mental illness, or any other disease. Take an illness like diabetes, for instance.

Many people will say that addiction is not a disease because people choose to take drugs, but if a person chooses an unhealthy diet and develops diabetes, people do not blame the person for their illness. So why should addiction be any different? Both addiction and mental illness can be influenced by our genetics. If it is our genes influencing us to use, it may be hard to deal with these issues on our own.

Many forms of addiction treatment incorporate counseling, which can be tailored to the patient’s needs. A very popular model of treatment is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Counselors find it affective in helping patients change behaviors associated with their drug use or mental illnesses. Getting rid of old bad habits is important when preventing relapse.

What Is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?

CBT differs from many other types of psychotherapies because sessions have a structure, rather than the person talking freely. A therapist and patient will discuss problems they are experiencing, or emotions they have trouble dealing with. Goals will be set by the patient, guided by a therapist, for what they hope to accomplish during treatment. These problems and goals then become the basis for planning the content of sessions and discussing how to deal with them. There is also time set aside to discuss the previous session. In this way, a therapist will assign “homework.”

The homework isn’t like what you received in school. Maybe it is anger management; instead of lashing out at someone you feel wronged you in some way, you do breathing exercises and try to work out the anger in a constructive way. Finding constructive ways to deal with negative emotions is a huge part of CBT. The homework is up to the patient to complete, and doing so is in their best interest for progress.

CBT is effective because it can incorporate different types of therapy. Art therapy, music therapy, or “adventure” therapy are all incorporated into CBT if it fits a person’s needs. Usually done one-on-one, CBT can also include group therapy. Many people find a benefit from sharing their difficulties with others who may have similar problems. Even though this may cause feelings of anxiety at first, the group can become a very valuable source of support.

Other Forms of Therapy

CBT is not the only form of therapy that is offered post-recovery. Therapy should be tailored to fit your needs, or it won’t be very effective. Some other forms of therapy include:

  • Motivational Interviewing – in this form of therapy, patients and therapists resolve a recovering user’s ambivalence to allow them to embrace their treatment efforts to best change their problematic behavior. One benefit of motivational interviewing is that those in recovery develop their own motivation and a plan for change over the course of several sessions. This can provide them with more of a sense of control over the course of their treatment.
  • Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy- in this form of therapy, patients work to understand their own thoughts and to develop better habits and more positive and rational thought processes to help them experience healthier emotions. The base for REBT is the idea that rational thinking comes from within; external situations are not what gives someone the feeling of being happy or unhappy. The idea that external situations can affect happiness is an influencer for drug use.
  • The Matrix Model- this form of therapy was originally created to help those with stimulant addictions, but has become effective for other drug addictions. In the matrix model, therapists focus on rewarding good behaviors and teaching patients to believe in themselves; self-esteem, dignity, and self-worth. This model is mostly focused on relapse prevention and family/group therapies.

Which Therapy is Best for Me?

What’s beneficial about therapy today is that there are so many models of therapy it’s easy to find one that fits a patient’s needs. Therapy can only be effective if a therapist and user consider their biggest hurdles towards remaining sober. Besides pre-existing conditions, there are a couple of mental health issues that arise from withdrawal. For instance, anhedonia, or the inability to feel pleasure, is a common symptom of opiate withdrawal. Since the brain of an opiate addict is used to unusual amounts of dopamine, anhedonia may be an even more dramatic feeling. This can cue the urge to use it again.

Post-treatment therapy is crucial in preventing relapse. Family therapy can help rebuild relationships that may have been damaged by the behaviors of a person while using. This is especially important because a family can be the best support for someone in recovery. There may be trust issues or there may be trauma, and therapy gives families a safe space to express their feelings and concerns.

The best thing you can do is be completely honest with your therapist. If you’re not, therapy won’t be as effective. You may feel vulnerable, and that may cause anxiety about talking to a stranger, but these are professionals who are there to help you. They care about your emotions and sobriety, and that is why they are there. If you feel that a specific model isn’t working for you, don’t hesitate to tell your therapist.

It’s okay to ask questions about their staff and treatment programs, we welcome questions at Northstar Transitions. Many programs can be modified to fit an individual’s specific needs. Do your research before making any decisions. If you have to call the centers directly, don’t hesitate. Recovery treatment centers, like Northstar Transitions, exist to help you recover, you deserve to understand what you are getting into. If you or a loved one is considering entering a treatment program, Northstar Transitions is here to help. Call us now at (303) 558-6400.