3 Reasons Substance Abuse Counseling is Better Than Quitting Drugs on Your Own

Quitting drugs on your own is hard. Addiction is such a multifaceted disease — affecting your physical, emotional, and mental well-being — that it is much more effectively treated with professional help. Whether you’re looking for assistance for yourself or a loved one, here are three reasons to seek substance abuse counseling.

1. Addiction is a chronic disease.

That means, like any disease, it can be treated. You do not have to be “an addict” for the rest of your life! However, quitting drugs on your own can be like trying to cure your own bronchitis just by using all your willpower not to cough!

Addiction and drug use change the way your brain functions — and even the way it is structured! These alterations to your brain last long after you quit drug use, hence the word “chronic.” Treatment for drug addiction is therefore not a one-time deal. Going “cold turkey,” or trying to stop on your own is very, very hard. Your brain chemistry will be working against you, preventing your best efforts to quit from being successful.

Substance abuse counseling is also helpful for people who wish to treat their addiction to legal substances like nicotine. The Department of Health and Human Services estimates that only 3-7% of smokers who try to quit on their own succeed in their endeavors. This percentage is far lower for injection drug users (IDUs), most of whom fail to achieve long-term sobriety.

2. Substance Abuse Counseling addresses more than just drug abuse

If you have tried quitting drugs on your own, you might have found yourself making excuses to engage in the addiction “just a little bit more.” Do you remember why you started using drugs in the first place? There is no one treatment method that works for everyone, in part because substance abuse addicts begin using drugs for a wide variety of reasons. Substance abuse counseling can help determine treatment that will be most effective by looking at your mental health history, such as past trauma and abuse, environmental factors, or any other psychological conditions.

Integrated treatment for substance abuse and mental health issues gives you the best chance of recovery. A substance abuse counselor may be part of a team with a treatment provider, or be able to recommend one whose practices are most compatible with your individual needs. A counselor will also be able to put you in contact with support groups, which have been shown to greatly aid in the healing process.

3. Self-empowerment

Going to substance abuse counseling instead of, or after, having tried quitting drugs on your own is not a sign of weakness. It takes courage to face your problems, and dealing with substance abuse may be one of the most difficult challenges in your life. Substance abuse counseling will empower you to make a change for the better, whether you’ve come on your own initiative, at the urging of a friend or loved one, or because of a court order.

A substance abuse counselor will help you take control of your life and get personalized treatment that corresponds to your specific needs. You will find out if total abstinence is the best path for you, or learn how to moderate your use. This is particularly important if you’ve suffered through alcohol abuse, as you shouldn’t have to live in fear of relapse at the prospect of one beer at a barbecue or a glass of wine over dinner. You don’t have to worry about being labeled an “addict.” You do not have to wait until you think you’ve hit “rock bottom.” Change begins with you and your substance abuse counselor.