Finding The Right Addiction Therapist Near Me
Updated April 30, 2021
Medically Reviewed By: Wendy Boring-Bray, DBH, LPC
Dealing with an addiction is an emotionally and physically exhausting thing, not just for the person suffering from the addiction but also for their family members. Addiction is often a complicated and emotional topic for affected people, making it difficult to talk about. You may find the idea of finding an addiction therapist overwhelming or be afraid that you’ll end up finding the wrong one for you. But taking the step to find an addiction counselor is very important in your journey to living an addiction-free life. We’re here to help you learn more about your addiction and its effect on you and your family members, as well as to provide some insight on how you can find addiction therapists near you.
What Causes Addiction?
At its core, addiction is a problem that stems from the biology of our brains. Years of research on the topic have consistently found that addictive substances or actions for some people cause a change in how their brain operates. Our brains are wired with pleasure/reward circuits that release “happiness chemicals,” dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin, and endorphins, when we experience something positive, such as interacting with loved ones or exercising. But addiction therapists have found that things like drugs, alcohol, and gambling also stimulate our brain's region responsible for distributing these chemicals.
Addictive habits end up hijacking your normal brain functions by rewarding your body with these chemicals when you participate in your addiction. “A common misperception is that addiction is a choice or moral problem, and all you have to do is stop. But nothing could be further from the truth,” says Dr. George Koob, director of NIH’s National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. “The brain actually changes with addiction, and it takes a good deal of work to get it back to its normal state. The more drugs or alcohol you’ve taken, the more disruptive it is to the brain.” Once your brain has been rewired by addiction, you’ve left craving more of whatever it is you’re addicted to continue stimulating your pleasure/reward circuit. And if you don’t give your brain what it is craving, making you feel anxious, depressed, or even physically ill. At this point, you are simply participating in your addiction to prevent feeling bad rather than receiving any pleasurable effects.
The Different Types of Addiction
Though addiction is most commonly associated with people who have problems with drugs or alcohol addiction, it can come in many forms, and addiction therapists have the tools to help address most addiction problems. People can also develop addictions to certain behaviors or interactions, such as gambling addiction, internet addiction, or sex addiction. A digital addiction, internet or otherwise, is just as serious as an addiction to drugs or alcohol. Addiction is characterized by a compulsion to use a substance or continue a behavior, despite any negative effects on themselves or their family members. It is also extremely difficult for users to control or quit their addiction, so seeking an addiction counselor is an important step to overcoming your problem.
How Can Addiction Affect Your Life?
No matter what addiction a person is struggling with, they will often find addiction has many negative effects on their lives. Most addicts don’t realize how their addiction changes their lives until their problem has gotten very serious. Addiction treatment will help to address your issues, which can include the following:
- Changes in the way you think or feel about things or the way that your brain processes information.
- Mood swings, anxiety, or depression.
- Constant cravings for the addiction.
- Loss of control over multiple aspects of your life.
- Impaired ability to learn new things, a hard time making decisions, loss of short or long-term memory, and a lack of judgment.
- Health problems include organ damage, loss of taste or smell, weight loss, weight gain, or high blood pressure.
- Increased risk of communicable diseases.
- More frequent vehicular accidents.
- An increased chance of suicide.
- Family problems such as domestic violence and child custody issues.
- Work problems, including declining performance, missing days of work, and loss of employment.
- Diminished academic performance.
- Legal issues or financial problems.
Digital addictions, such as internet addiction, can cause a range of health problems, from headaches to eyesight degeneration. For some people, the repeated use of drugs or alcohol can damage your prefrontal cortex, the part of your brain associated with decision-making. This is why it can often be difficult for those with an addiction to realize that they have a problem. “Brain imaging studies of people addicted to drugs or alcohol show decreased activity in this frontal cortex,” says Dr. Nora Volkow, director of NIH’s National Institute on Drug Abuse. “When the frontal cortex isn’t working properly, people can’t make the decision to stop taking the drug—even if they realize the price of taking that drug may be extremely high, and they might lose custody of their children or end up in jail. Nonetheless, they take it.” Even if you don’t think that you are experiencing any of these negative effects, it is important to seek an addiction counselor's help to address your problem.
What Does an Addiction Therapist Do?
Addiction counseling is a way for you to learn about your addiction's whys to help you learn how to remove it from your life. Many addictions stem from negative experiences in life, such as being raised by an alcoholic parent or being a trauma victim. An addiction counselor helps you create a long-term plan to find sobriety and sustain it. Addiction counselors do this by helping you learn how to share and process your feelings, find patterns between negative thoughts and behaviors, find and participate in healthy coping skills, and identify potential triggers. If you are also seeing your counselor in a family therapist capacity, they will bring you and your family together for sessions to help address how the entire family can cope. Your family therapist may also give the family tips on how to help you maintain your sobriety.
Different Addiction Therapist Options
There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all therapy plan, which is why addiction therapists specialize their treatment approach for each person. Your addiction counseling may involve someone that provides services as a one-on-one therapist, a marriage and family therapist, or a marriage and couples therapist.
- One-On-One Therapist
This type of therapy allows you to work closely with your therapist to focus on the whys behind your addiction and help you find ways to cope with the side effects and avoid addiction.
- Marriage and Family Therapist
If you have children in the home, a marriage and family therapist is a good option. Marriage and family therapists help you to examine how your addiction is affecting your family as a unit. Marriage and family therapists can also help address issues relating to how your family feels about you, allowing them to express their feelings in a safe and neutral environment.
- Marriage and Couples Therapist
Just because you have an addiction problem doesn’t mean you don’t deserve to be in a relationship or that it isn’t repairable. Marriage counseling and couples counseling are two options to help strengthen your relationship even while you’re dealing with your addiction issues. Marriage counselors can help address the relationship issues that stem from your addiction and help you build a stronger, more positive bond with your partner. Even if you aren’t married or living together, a couples therapist can help treat your partner's ways of being affected by your addiction.
Seeing a family therapist is especially important, even if you don’t believe that your children realize what is going on. Kids are often much more observant than we give them credit for, and they might be confused about or afraid of what has been going on. A family therapist can help address these issues to ensure your home life is as stable as possible while continuing your addiction counseling journey.
Search for Addiction Therapists
Searching for addiction therapists can seem like a daunting task, but it is as easy as doing a search on your phone for therapists near you. If you have an internet addiction and try to avoid being online, enlist a trusted friend or family member. Take a look at the options, and once you have found one or more that you think will work for you, dig a little deeper to learn more. Does the addiction counselor have the proper education and licenses? Do they have any additional training specific to addiction counseling? How are their online reviews? What kind of treatment options do they offer? After you’ve answered these questions, give them a call to set up an initial appointment to see if you feel connected to one of the addiction counselors. There is a lot to be said about finding a therapist that you are comfortable with; if you aren’t comfortable, it’ll be more difficult for you to open up and reap the benefits of addiction therapy.
We hope that this article has helped you to learn how to search for an addiction therapist. If your schedule makes it difficult to fit in traditional therapy sessions, we at ReGain offer convenient online sessions with licensed mental health professionals that can be done from your computer, tablet, or phone, whenever it best suits your schedule. Finding the right addiction therapist starts with admitting that you have a problem. Only then can you seek addiction treatment and learn how to get away from whatever is causing these problems in your life and the lives of your family members.
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