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Counseling Degree on Addiction

A Particular Form of Support

Addictions stand out from other forms of counseling for the sheer chemical intensity of the addictive drive. An addiction counselor needs skills and training to deal with the special challenges faced by addicts as they struggle to escape the grip of their addictions.

Chemical dependency counseling

  • Endurance of addiction
  • Physical challenges
  • Behavior modification
  • Finding help

Addiction Resists Change

While most changes a person attempts to make in their life and behavior summon up resistance to treatment, addiction is notorious for the intensity and firmness of resistance. Even with skilled counseling and the best medical attention, even with dedicated and committed patients, lasting success is difficult to achieve. Without follow-up counseling of some kind a 20% success rate is common. Addiction counselors must know the patterns of individual addictions, and the art of learning how to deal with these specifics if they are to provide their patients with the assistance they need.

Grounds of Resistance

The core of the difficulty lies in the many ways chemical addiction usurps the mind and body’s natural instincts for self-help, subverting them to support damaging behaviors. Addictions “hitch a ride” using the natural pleasure and pain centers of the body, and play on the instincts normal to human life. In the end, an addict’s body fights to maintain an addiction with the same passion and intensity that normal people fight for life itself.

Worse, the changes to the brain and body are life-long. While an addict can be retrained to experience a normal life, the training must fill in for what nature once provided.

Primary Technique

The most common method of retraining addicts to resist their body’s continuing expectation of drugs is through a collection of methods known as “behavior modification.” These techniques, drawn from B.F. Skinner’s behavioral psychiatry, are commonly referred to by the term “brain washing.” However, used to recondition addicts to reinforce their desired new freedom from drugs, these methods can be salvation. By building new patterns of behavior at as deep a level possible, approaching reflexive response, addicts are given sufficiently powerful new habits to hold the line in the face of chemical dependency.

Finding Help

Not unreasonably trained counselors for addiction need specific training and experience. Even licensed counselors in other areas will be reluctant to commit to treatment of addicts, and with good reason: there is limited hope they can provide the skills required to provide true help, and indeed, their training for helping other conditions may actually work against an addict. Therefore if you or someone you need requires capable addiction counseling it is vital that you find a qualified specialist or specialized program aimed at addiction.

The most reliable method for finding the talented counseling you or yours need is through referral: rather than begin at a cold start, using skilled referral resources can ensure you start with a pre-sifted group of possible counselors. Referrals can be gained from a wide array of sources. In many cases you can get good recommendations from hospitals, medical centers, from your own personal doctor, from state and county health or family service departments, and more. Another good source of referrals is the professional referral service: in this instance the service often has made a point of investigating and familiarizing themselves with the individuals and services they match to clients. Their ability to place a client with a practitioner or program likely to provide quality service is the life-blood of the agency, and the referrals tend to be worthwhile and well reasoned.


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