Goals of Substance Abuse Specialists
Whenever a therapist is trying to treat someone suffering from drug or alcohol addiction, they are in fact attempting to focus on several distinct goals. The main aim is to prevent patients from conducting any destructive behavior related to harmful substance abuse. Counselors achieve this by focusing on the following key areas:
* Developing a comprehensive history of the patient
* Creating a thorough character profile of the patient
* Engaging the patient and developing an emotional bond
* Providing support for friends and family members who may be involved
* Tailoring a treatment program covering each of the patient’s needs
By focusing on all of the above areas, a specialist can then give their patients the best chance of recovering from drug and alcohol addiction. By creating a friendly, supportive environment in which all of the patient’s needs are met, and where those close to them provide constant support, the individual involved will be placed in a good position to abstain from harmful activities and thus return to leading a normal life.
Developing the Patient’s Background
When dealing with a new patient, a therapist has to delve into that person’s past and determine the key factors which led them to commence abusing drugs and/or alcohol in the first place. This is begun by reviewing their general background, asking them questions about their daily habits when it comes to substance abuse. Questions about any attempts to quit as well as any harmful effects that the individual may have noticed will also be brought up. In order to further find out about a patient’s background, a therapist may also browse over other documents such as police reports, patient records, employment records, medical records and reports made by other therapists.
Using this information, a specialist can then formulate a strategy to effectively rid a patient of their addiction. This first goal is crucial to the success of the treatment as it provides the counselor with plenty of information to later develop a treatment process which deals with each of the patient’s needs and which involves the most important people in their life to provide support as needed.
Creating an Accurate Character Profile
The second step is to simply talk to the patient and determine what kind of person they are. This is critical to developing a treatment program as this should be tailored specifically to the individual’s personality, needs, lifestyle and habits. By sitting down and conversing with the patient, a therapist will then be able to judge that person, especially habits such as:
* Drug and/or alcohol usage
* Social connections
* Workplace and personal responsibilities
* Life views and ideas
* Related medical and psychological problems
* Personality type and motivation to change
This stage is also essential to creating a treatment program which is successful, especially since some types of therapy work well with some people and completely fail with others. For example, psychodynamic therapy has a high success rate on those more open to talking deeply with their therapist. An individual who is more introverted will not react as well when asked to talk openly about their past and their deepest thoughts and fears.
As well as this, the therapy chosen will also have to be adjusted depending on other factors. If an alcohol or drug addict is suffering from a disease, such as hepatitis or AIDS, this will have to be dealt with as well as the psychological damage that has been done from these harmful activities. Similarly, if they are an extrovert with lots of friends and social connections, these can be used to provide support and help the patient break free from addiction. If the individual leads a quieter lifestyle, other means of support will have to be found to give them a higher chance of recovery.
Personally Engaging the Patient
The sign of a good therapist is that they can get their patient to trust in their advice and follow the treatment plan as it is laid out. Here, the character profile and background can be used to give the patient some incentives to alter their lifestyle. This has to be done in a manner which will not push them away, which simultaneously motivates and interests them. For example, some treatment plans provide physical methods such as acupuncture in order to promote good health and an addiction-free lifestyle. Of course, some patients may not be ready for this kind of treatment and will be better suited undergoing something more psychological, such as behavioral or psychodynamic therapy.
This aim is important because it helps the patient see their therapist as someone who is actively interested in their recovery. By developing a strong bond between both parties, trust will then be built and the drug or alcohol addict will be more likely to follow through with the pre-specified treatment process. This trust will also encourage the patient to open up to their therapist and provide them with the information which they need to provide support along the road to recovery.
Involving Family Members and Friends
To develop a comprehensive treatment process, it is necessary to ensure that a drug or alcohol addict has support throughout their daily life. While a therapist can provide motivation and advice while a patient is in session, once they go home it will be up to their friends and family to further push them towards recovery. For this reason, a substance abuse specialist will have to talk to those close to the patient and let them know how best they can support them during the treatment process. This can be done while talking to friends and family alone or while the patient is in the room. This can be especially important when it comes to youth and drug use, as parents can still be powerful figures in helping the young addict recover.
As well as this, friends and family members may also require therapy and counseling if the actions and behavior of the drug or alcohol user have resulted in some physical or emotional injury. These issues will have to be resolved before a substance abuser can then successfully recover. Here, the therapist aims to develop the family’s interpersonal, intrapersonal and environmental behavior and promote a friendly setting in which everyone can grow and develop towards a healthier lifestyle. A substance abuse specialist has a responsibility to ensure that both the addict and their loved ones can successfully lead a happier life without fear of relapse into a potentially harmful situation.
Tailoring a Treatment Program
The final aim of a therapist is to formulate a plan to assist their patient successfully achieve abstinence and free themselves from the bonds of addiction. Armed with a complete background and the character profile of an individual, as well as a deeper involvement with both that person and those close to them, a professional counselor will then be able to develop a strategy tailored specifically to the drug or alcohol user’s needs. Depending on the patient’s personality and lifestyle, different solutions can be created and it is up to the therapist to choose an option with the best chance of success.
After a treatment has been developed, a substance abuse specialist will then have to set goals and ensure that their patient sticks to the plan. Here, family members and friends can be extremely useful as they can assist the drug or alcohol addict in avoiding temptation and keeping on track for recovery. In this stage, a therapist’s main goal is to maintain constant motivation and provide their patient with the support that they need to get through the harder stages of treatment and persevere until abstinence is reached.