Is Alcohol Counseling What I Need?
Updated April 09, 2021
Medically Reviewed By: Wendy Boring-Bray, DBH, LPC
Abuse of alcohol is a common behavioral health problem that affects both the users and their loved ones. As a matter of fact, it can affect anyone who happens to be around them regularly, including coworkers or classmates. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, almost 15 million people over 12 had an alcohol use disorder. This is a scary number on its own. But add to that the number of those who died from alcohol-related issues such as stroke, cirrhosis, hepatitis, or a vehicular accident, and it becomes terrifying. Over 10,000 people died from alcohol-related vehicle accidents in one year. Just that should be enough to make anyone want to quit.
What Is Alcohol Abuse?
Just because you drank too much at the Christmas party once does not mean you are addicted or that you are an alcoholic. According to the Centers for Disease Control, women who have more than one drink per day and men who have more than two per day are abusing alcohol. Of course, this does not mean that it is okay to drink every day or that drinking five or six drinks every few days is okay. Binge drinking is four or more drinks consumed in one day, and heavy drinking is more than eight drinks a week for women and 15 men.
Signs Of Alcohol Abuse
If you cannot control your drinking or have tried to stop without success, you may need alcohol counseling. Some symptoms you may need to talk to an alcohol counselor include:
- You are missing work due to alcohol and other drugs
- No memory of any amount of time while you were drinking
- You drink to relieve stress or depression
- You have withdrawal symptoms if you don’t drink
- Hiding your drinking from others
- Lying about your alcohol consumption
- Your relationship is suffering from your drinking
- You have any physical sign of addiction such as jaundice or fatty liver disease
- You have been in an accident related to alcohol use
- You have been arrested for being inebriated
What Is An Alcohol Counselor?
Quitting is not as easy as just saying, “I quit.” Alcohol and drug addiction are considered a brain disease that has both physical and emotional effects. If you have an alcohol addiction, it affects your daily life, including your work and relationships with your loved ones, coworkers, and anyone else you spend time with. An alcohol or substance abuse counselor is a licensed mental health professional trained in helping those with alcohol or substance abuse problems. They can provide treatment options for those who need it, including alcohol treatment programs and substance abuse treatment.
What Can An Alcohol Counselor Do For Me?
Because it affects everyone in different ways, treating alcohol addiction can be complicated and challenging. You typically will need a substance abuse treatment professional to help you quit, such as your physician or mental health expert, like an alcohol counselor. Alcohol counselors provide a number of duties, including:
- Helping you understand your addiction
- Working with you to help you get and keep a job
- Helps you build a reliable support system
- Works with you to make plans and goals to improve your life
- Works with your loved ones to help them heal because alcohol addiction affects everyone in your life
- Helps you find treatment for your individual addiction
Types Of Treatment
Since alcohol addiction affects everyone differently, the treatment program is specific for each person. Any qualified treatment providers can assess you to determine what treatment programs are right for you. Yes, it may take more than one type of treatment. Many people suffering from addiction have been successful with two or more treatment plans, such as cognitive behavioral therapy with contingency management. And many will continue to use group therapy throughout their lives to maintain their sobriety. Alcohol is a very addictive drug, and since it is readily available and not illegal, quitting can be extremely difficult. Some of the alcohol addiction programs include:
Aversion Therapy: This type of therapy has been used since 1932 for many conditions. It works by using alcohol or people drinking images while giving a mild shock or vibration when you see them. The idea of aversion therapy is that you will want to stay away from it when you see alcohol due to the negative feeling you got when you had the aversion therapy. However, the way this works best is to use a medication called disulfiram that makes you ill when you drink any alcohol. This type of medication-assisted treatment program has to be managed by a psychiatrist as well as your counselor.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: Also referred to as CBT, this is a popular type of treatment. It helps you recognize those thoughts that are negative that may lead you to drink. For example, you may have negative thoughts about yourself, such as “I am a failure” or “There is no hope for me.” These negative thoughts can invite you to drink. The therapist will help you turn these negative thoughts into positive thoughts. By helping you see the connection between your thoughts and actions, you will be able to avoid those triggers. Your counselor can also help you develop coping strategies that will work for you.
Biofeedback: Used for anxiety and fear very successfully in the past, biofeedback teaches you to promote relaxation and to control your body’s heart rate, breathing rate, blood pressure, and muscle activity. The therapist uses electrodes on your skin and finger sensors that display light and sound to represent your rates. Because your muscles tense up and your blood pressure, breathing, and heart rate increase, you can see what stress is doing to your body. The therapist teaches you how to get them under control with relaxation techniques.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy: This type of therapy is a form of CBT that was originally used for treating borderline personality disorder. It has been shown to work with addiction as well, using all the CBT exercises and others. Some of these include distress tolerance, emotion regulation, interpersonal effectiveness, and mindfulness. It also includes practicing these skills at home as well as online counseling to work with you.
Contingency Management: This form of drugs and alcohol abuse counseling uses little incentives to give you a bonus to remain sober. When you pass certain milestones such as 30 days of not drinking, your counselor may provide you a small token or gift card to celebrate it and congratulate you. This works by giving you a reason not to drink so you can get these bonus incentives.
Motivational Interviewing: Another new type of treatment, motivational interviewing, uses different stages to help treat you on your terms. They will first determine where you stand on your alcohol addiction. If you do not think it is a problem, the counselor will help you by asking you questions about some of the incidents that brought you to them. This type of treatment can take some time since the counselor typically lets you set the stages' timetable.
Group Counseling: Similar to an Alcoholics Anonymous group, the point of group counseling is to gain a better understanding of your problem by hearing about other people’s stories and experiences with alcohol. The others are also a support system because they are going through the same or similar issues. You can get ideas and support from the other group members, which sometimes is more comfortable to accept from your peers than it is when it comes from a counselor or therapist.
What Kind Of Treatment Program Is Right For Me?
The type of substance abuse treatment for alcohol problems that is right for you depends on what kind of user you are, why you abuse alcohol, what your triggers are, and how much you use, among other specifics. There are substance abuse treatment programs for all types of addictions, and while they are all effective, some are more effective than others for certain types of addiction. The counselor you choose will help you figure out the best treatment program for you.
How Can I Find Substance Abuse Treatment?
If you have alcohol problems finding a substance abuse treatment facility near you may be difficult. Or you may be embarrassed about being seen there. Many people with alcohol addiction have employers who offer alcohol and drug abuse treatment programs but are hesitant to use them because they are afraid it will affect their job. ReGain.us has a treatment locator that can help you find treatment wherever you need it. If you want to see someone in person but not close to home, the treatment locator can help.
Receiving Treatment Online
Many treatment programs can be done online. In fact, all of the substance abuse treatments listed above besides biofeedback can be done from the comfort of your own home. If you would instead try alcohol treatment online, the treatment locator can help with that too. No matter what kind of alcohol problems you have, the treatment locator will help you find the treatment you need. Just go to ReGain.us and answer a few questions, and they will match you up with a therapist or counselor that is right for your situation. No appointment is needed, and you don’t even have to leave your house.
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