What is Addiction Counselling and how does it help?
Addiction Counselling can take place in different forms, most often in one-on-one fashion but is also available in a couple, family and group format. In whatever modality is taken, it provides the client with a confidential opportunity to discuss their relationship with the problem substance or behaviour and its impact on their life and the life of others they care about.
Addiction Counselling is a highly specialised form of counselling that views serious and problematic use of a substance or behaviour as far more serious as it being simply a symptom of underlying issues – although inevitably such underlying issues are present. The problematic and addictive elements of one’s life are assessed first and foremost. It is only after an appropriate evaluation of what is underway can a specialised treatment plan be developed that is intended to assist the individual in difficulty to achieve their goals for a better life.
Addiction Counselling is a facilitative process which helps individuals overcome any personal fears and anxiety which they may be experiencing. The primary benefit is that it will help someone in difficulty in their efforts to address and take action as to what needs to be done. It allows an intensive exploration of the sources of the addictive behaviour and enables the person to reach a level of self- understanding that’s essential to a good recovery. It aims to assist in the following ways:
- To strengthen self-worth.
- To find positive ways to manage stressful events and emotions.
- To learn how to react to common substance and behavioural triggers.
- To develop practical skills for dealing with cravings.
- To assist the individual with rebuilding trusting relationships with others.
- To become responsible and compliant with other treatment plans.
The counsellor role is to facilitate the client’s growth in ways which respect the person’s values, personal resources and capacity for self-determination, leading to lifelong recovery.
Who would benefit from attending an addiction counsellor?
People who will most likely benefit from the specialised skill of an addiction counsellor are likely to be those who are directly affected by the impact of a behaviour or chemical that is causing or has caused them harm or distress irrespective of the amount, frequency or usage now or in the past. Examples could include people who are currently chronically abusing alcohol or drugs or caught up in compulsive gambling or addiction to pornography, to people who are just concerned about their usage of certain chemicals such as prescription drugs or eating behaviours. Some people may have stopped their alcohol or drug use for years but are still unhappy and carrying the effects of the past with them and are seeking to recover from earlier, problematic situations in their lives.
What is available privately?
In terms of the private sector, supports can range from private treatment centres to organisations or individuals who offer specialist Addiction Counselling and support services. The services and supports on offer can vary greatly in terms of type, duration and cost. Details on Addiction Counsellors of Ireland members which provide specialist addiction counselling can be found in the client section of this website. It is also worth noting that many of our members have the expertise, training and accreditation to deal with a variety of other personal issues and concerns such as depression, anxiety attacks, bereavement, traumas and relationship counselling.
Addiction Counselling is a specialised area of therapeutic support where the professional meets the person impacted by addiction not only to discuss the addiction itself but also to explore in depth the impact of addiction on every significant aspect of that person’s life.
What is available publicly?
The largest range of public addiction services are under the HSE funded services and Drug Task Forces. These services are located in every region across Ireland. For further information just check the internet or call their helpline which can be found on their websites.
What non-professional services are available?
Possibly the biggest service provider in the non-professional arena are what is commonly referred to as Fellowships, there are too many to name but some of the most widely known would include Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Narcotics Anonymous (NA), Gamblers Anonymous (GA), Sex and Love Addictions Anonymous (SLAA), and Sexaholics Anonymous (SA), Al-Anon, Nar-Anon, Gam-Anon, S-Anon, and so forth.
AA, NA and GA aim to help those directly affected by addictions to Alcohol, Drugs and Gambling while ‘sister’ fellowships like Al-Anon, Gam-Anon, Nar-Anon and S-Anon support families of those affected by a loved one caught up in addiction. For further information on the Fellowships just check the internet or call their helpline which can be found on their websites.
In addition to specific Fellowships as listed above, many find themselves reaching out to friends & family for ongoing support. This can sometimes be profoundly therapeutic. However, the shame, stigma and ignorance surrounding addiction is so prevalent that this is not always possible for many impacted by addiction. Addiction counsellors can often advise those experiencing the isolation that often accompanies addiction on where to find the right kind of support in local communities.
Do Addiction Counsellors work with families?
Yes, many addiction counsellors in fact specialise in assisting partners, parents and other family members with the significant struggle of caring for a loved one lost in addiction. Please note that the majority of those seriously impacted by addiction are not in addiction themselves but have an important caring relationship with those who are.
Family members are often remarkable in their ability to carry on despite the worry, fear and stress brought into their lives by the addiction of another. Such family members often find themselves moving from worry and concern to anger and frustration until they eventually find themselves exhausted or even in despair because of the addiction of another.
Addiction does not only damage the health and wellbeing of those addicted but can sometimes have a similar impact on others. Addiction counsellors have the skill, training and compassion to assist family members in such distress and will provide important therapeutic support in both publically and privately funded settings.
What is the importance of training and regulation?
Statutory regulation in the counselling profession is not yet in place, because it is currently unregulated, it is possible for people to set themselves up as counsellors without any formal qualification or accreditation.
The Addiction Counsellors of Ireland supports strict regulation, and is part of the Psychological Therapies Forum, the umbrella body representing various organisations in the counselling field, currently lobbying the government, to have the profession established on a statutory basis.
Meanwhile, because the protection of the client is of the utmost importance, it is prudent that those seeking the services of a qualified counsellor should use a professional association, such as the Addiction Counsellors of Ireland, to help them identify a counsellor whom they can be sure has reached acceptable level of academic and experiential training and is accredited by the association contacted.