How to Find an Addiction Counselor

addiction counselorFinding the right help for an addiction isn’t easy. These days, there are quite a few options. Do you choose inpatient or outpatient substance abuse treatment? Intensive outpatient? An online recovery program?


And what do you do if you know you also have concerns about your mental health at the same time? How should you decide what you should do if you need chemical dependency treatment and also need help with your depression, anxiety, or some other mental health issue?


Navigating all of this can be tricky, but there are a few considerations that might be helpful as you find an addiction counselor to begin your recovery.


What Level of Care Is Best for You?

When I say “level of care,” this means sorting out the level of support that’s right for you. This is a blog post in itself, but here are a few things to keep in mind about the differences:

  • Medically managed intensive inpatient is best for those who are strongly physically dependent on a substance and need to detox for their own safety. Often this includes 24-hour medical care and the oversight of a treating physician.
  • Inpatient care or residential treatment involves staying at a treatment center or facility. Counseling is always available and usually clients participate in recovery-focused programming. Less intensive medical oversight is often available from a nurse or another medical professional, depending on the level of care.
  • Intensive outpatient services involve participating in recovery-focused programming such as groups, individual therapy, and even couples or family therapy while staying in one’s own home. Depending on the level of care needed, participation may range anywhere from a few hours a week to 8 or more hours per day for most days of the week.
  • Outpatient services usually means meeting with a therapist or addiction counselor once or more during the week for 45- or 50-minute sessions.


For more about the levels of care, click here.


While you may know what level of care is best for you right away, it’s not always clear what may be most appropriate. That’s why meeting with a therapist who can discuss your goals with you and make a decision with you on the right level of care is a great idea.


Can Your Addiction Counselor Help You?

This is usually the unspoken question that many who are seeking help for an addiction are asking when they are searching for an addiction therapist.


Obviously, those searching for help are looking for a solution to the problem of not just the addiction, but the problems that the addiction has caused as well.


To answer these questions, you might consider the following:

  • What experience does this therapist have with working with addictions?
  • What training, qualifications, or certifications does this person have in addiction? How important is that to you?
  • Does this person understand the “root” of addiction and can they help you resolve the emotional drivers of addictive behavior?


Does Your Addiction Counselor “Get” You?

You are so much more than your addiction. Your addiction doesn’t define you. You know this, but does your substance abuse counselor?


Addictions often start as solutions to complex emotional problems. It’s so important that you feel that your therapist can understand not just your addiction but you too.


Do you feel understood by your addiction counselor?


How Do You Feel with Your Addiction Counselor?

Perhaps by this point, you’ve searched your local area on Google for an addiction therapist and have found a few that you like.


Maybe you’ve even talked to one or two on the phone. They have qualifications that you like and seem to be able to help you. They seem to get it and have talked about how they might work with you toward your goals. Maybe you’ve even met with one for a free consultation, if they do that sort of thing.


How did you feel when you were talking with them? Understood? Hopeful? Calmer? Or did something they say or do make you angry? Were you frustrated? Hurt? Did you feel ashamed?


This is important because your feelings in the presence of your addiction counselor are probably the best indicator of the kind of relationship that you will have with that person. And that’s important because the relationship between the addiction counselor and the client is what makes therapy work, hands down.


If You’re Looking for an Addiction Counselor, Let’s Talk

If you need help and aren’t sure what to do, I’d love to speak with you, especially if you’ve tried or are wary of traditional approaches to addiction like 12-step meetings or approaches that insist on abstinence.


We can collaborate together on your goals and figure out how to do your recovery, your way. Contact me today to schedule your free consultation.


Live near Ventura, Camarillo, or Oxnard, CA?

I’d love to connect.

Contact me today to get started.


Jeremy Mast

Jeremy is a licensed marriage and family therapist (CA LMFT90961) in private practice in Ventura, California. He helps those struggling with drugs, alcohol, and out-of-control sexual behaviors awaken to new possibilities for their lives. He lives with his wife, son, and cat in beautiful southern California.

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