Addiction therapy uses the format and ideas behind therapy to go into the issues surrounding addiction. There are several levels of counseling and therapy that can be used to work through the issues of addiction and recovery from addiction.
Why Go To Therapy?
Most addicts have issues that are the underlying causes or factors of addiction. Some have sustained trauma or abuse in early childhood, others may have sexual identity or abuse issues, and others have unresolved grief, anger or emotional issues that prevent them from staying off drugs and alcohol. Unless these issues are addressed, the chances for maintaining recovery are slim. Most addicts can benefit from additional help at any point in recovery if and when these issues arise.
Help in Recovery
Treatment Centers: Most addicts can benefit from treatment to begin early recovery. Some will have treatment and then will relapse. If this is the case, they may choose not to go back to treatment, but can get back on track with their sobriety because they have the skills and tools of recovery that they received in treatment. Because these tools are still with them, they can attend support groups and regain stability in early recovery. Other addicts may need to experience treatment several times before being able to maintain recovery. Addiction treatment or rehab is often covered by insurance plans.
Support Groups: Some addicts can attend 12-step or other support groups that are not organized by any agency. These include Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous, Smart Recovery, Life Ring, etc. These groups are independent of outside treatment programs or therapists. They are member-based groups that do not have leaders and are run by the people who attend their meetings.
Sponsors: These are members of the support groups mentioned above. They are unpaid members who have been able to stay clean and sober for a long time, and can help newer members go through the 12 Steps or other tools provided by the support group literature and practices. Most addicts use a sponsor as a sounding-board for making decisions and to get help with early recovery issues. They are an important part of early recovery and support for ongoing recovery.
Sober Coaches or Sober Companions: These are individuals with recovery experience who have taken a few courses on being a supportive coach or companion. They are paid (usually minimum wage) to assist a newly recovering addict with transitions from home to treatment, or to accompany addicts who travel for work or pleasure and need additional help to stay sober during those transitions. Sober coaches can be used over the telephone when an addict does not yet have a strong support system. This can be a valuable tool for early recovery as an addict makes the transition from treatment to their home environment.
Most insurance programs do not cover the costs for sober coaches or sober companions.
Counselors: These are persons trained to work with addiction. They have mid-level skills and training that give them the ability to work in some treatment programs, as well as to guide early recovery for addicts who have less traumatic issues to work through. They may have some training in family counseling, but are not qualified or trained to provide therapy of any kind.
Counselors may have some training in group facilitation and leading sober groups in recovery homes and some treatment programs. Most counselors have some experience in personal recovery.
Most insurance programs do not cover the costs for Counselors outside of treatment programs.
Group Counseling: This is a primary feature of treatment, but can be found outside the treatment process. Some agencies will provide group counseling for recovering addicts in settings where they can charge for the groups. Because these are led by counselors, and not therapists, they are lower-cost services and can be beneficial for education and processing non-traumatic events in early recovery.
Some insurance coverage may be available is the groups are monitored by someone other than a counselor, such as a therapist or doctor.
Therapy: Therapists who provide therapy services usually have received training at the level of masters’ degree or higher. They are trained to address issues of trauma, early childhood development, and mental health diagnoses. Most therapists serve a period of supervision in their specific field. Background and specific training in addictions is important when looking for a therapist to work through these issues in recovery.
Therapists are qualified to perform work individually or in groups. They are trained to provide family therapy, group therapy and marital therapy, as well as working with children. Most therapists are licensed in the state where they provide services. Individual states have different regulations for therapy and licensing requirements.
Nearly all therapists are covered by insurance providers. Each plan has different benefits.
Group Therapy: The important difference between group counseling and group therapy is the level of education and training for the group facilitator. This is the person who is leading the group and monitoring the interactions of the members. Group therapy is run by therapists or doctors. These are professionals with higher levels of training than counselors.
Group therapy is covered by most insurance providers.
Psychologists: Some therapists have doctorate degrees in clinical psychology (they will hold either a Ph.D. or Psy.D.). They are called psychologists, which qualifies them for higher levels of therapy, that include mental health testing and other services that cannot be provided by therapists at a lower level of education. These services are provided at higher costs than other therapists and are usually specialized. Many of these professionals have become specially trained in addiction treatment.
Psychological testing is often covered by insurance; but this level of therapy may not be.
Psychiatrists: These are highly-trained doctors who prescribe medication for mental illness. They will assist a recovering addict in finding the medication that treats a secondary mental illness, but are not trained in therapy. They are trained to prescribe medications. Those who take medication can benefit from therapy. For those who have secondary mental illness or underlying mental disorders, the most beneficial treatment is therapy and medication.
Psychiatry is covered by most insurance providers.
How Do I Find a Therapist?
You can receive referrals from insurance providers or other health professionals for these kinds of services. Other ways to find a good fit for therapy is to ask personal acquaintances in recovery for referrals to a therapist.
Treatment centers and online directories are available to assist in finding therapists in nearly every country. Personal referrals are often the best. Specific training in addiction and recovery is very important. Understanding the issues of addiction and recovery makes it possible for the therapist to help you avoid triggers for relapse. They also understand the importance of maintaining recovery and addressing issues underlying addiction.
For addicts without insurance, there are often non-profit groups where group therapy or individual therapists offer low-cost services. For information on how to find these community agencies, look online in the county where you reside or ask for referrals from treatment centers or other providers in your area. Again, referrals from others who attend these agencies can be helpful.