What Does an Addiction Counselor Do?

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Drug and alcohol addiction afflict tens of millions of people in this country alone. Recovery from these addictions can be a long and difficult process, and having a competent, well-qualified, supportive mental health professional can make a huge difference.

It is the responsibility of such professionals, then, to make sure they know the right questions to ask an addict in order to create a recovery plan that is effective for that person. The following interview questions for a drug and alcohol counselor will be helpful for those just entering that field, for professionals who have been practicing for a long time, and for potential clients who might want to know what to expect.

Type and Nature of Addiction(s)

The first questions you ask should deal with the nature of the addiction or addictions. This includes which drugs the patient is addicted to, how long they have been using them, and in what dosages. The goal is to identify immediate and life-threatening addictions that require immediate intervention.

For example, a heroin or methamphetamine addict is almost always in need of prompt inpatient care. Intensive detoxification efforts must be taken right away to minimize physical and mental damage from the drug, and any use of these drugs runs the risk of a lethal overdose.

On the other hand, some addictions, such as those to marijuana or alcohol, can be treated in a more relaxed, outpatient manner. Indeed, in cases where physical dependence does not necessitate immediate intervention, a long-term approach that emphasizes control over cravings as they arise and learning to go about daily life while avoiding triggers may be more successful in the long run.

Extent of Abuse

Knowing how often a patient uses a drug is also vital to determining the best treatment plan for that person. In addition, it may highlight an atypical dangerous addiction that requires special treatment. While alcohol addiction, as noted above, may usually be treated as an outpatient problem, strong daily abuse of alcohol might prompt a counselor to recommend inpatient care.

Underlying Causes

Ask questions that allow you to understand why the patient turned to drugs in the frist place and why they continue to abuse them. In many cases, there will be one or more serious underlying issues which, if left un-addressed, will seriously hamper any attempts at recovery.

The Purpose of Counseling

The most important thing to remember is that you, as a counselor, have the ultimate responsibility of helping to cure your patients of their addictions. This will not always be easy—it will probably never be.

These interview questions for a drug and alcohol counselor can help you to better understand each patient, but you should take each case as a unique situation and tailor your sessions accordingly. No simple list will prepare you for every outcome, so keep an open mind and be willing to learn and grow.


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