What Is a Drug and Addiction Counselor?

Drug rehabilitation is a blanket term given to the process of receiving comprehensive and tailor-made care. Millions of Americans have gone through these programs on their way to lifelong recovery. The reasons to seek out treatment are multifaceted — familial reasons, financial reasons, physical or mental health reasons — the list truly goes on and on.

With drug overdose deaths on the rise across the United States, it is no wonder that individuals are beginning to understand the necessity of accredited centers to treat themselves or loved ones. The statistics are escalating higher each year; no one has to be another tally mark.

Treatment centers in cities around the world are filled with highly dedicated and passionate individuals. Everyone, from the director level to the medical professionals in the trenches, has a hand in making recovery a real possibility for each patient. One such professional is known as a drug rehabilitation counselor.

Drug Rehab Counselor | What is a Drug and Addiction Counselor?
Before learning more about those that make recovery happen, it is best to have a firm grasp on what recovery looks like. Days and weeks prior to arriving at a treatment center, experts can predetermine which methods are likely to work best for individual patients. Some will require the full gambit of care, from detoxification to check-ins months and years after treatment. Other patients may only need the latter of these — a support structure while they continue life outside a rehab facility. None of this means some patients are better than others; everyone simply has their own journey.

A medical detox can often be lumped into residential care, so there are four chief programs a prospective patient may find themselves in. These programs are designed to work as levels or one-off experiences as determined by a person’s physicians and counselors.

Inpatient/Residential Programs: Before diving into recovery, a patient must detox drugs from their system or replace dangerous compounds, such as the opioid heroin, with more stable medications like methadone or Suboxone. During inpatient care, days are spent in counseling sessions, learning tools for coping, engaging in recreational activities and so much more. This is the time to distract the mind from thoughts of drug use, all while training it how to live in its absence. Programs can last upwards of a year for serious cases, but the median timeframe is closer to 3–6 weeks at this stage. Programs will differ between rehab centers, but the fundamentals of treatment — such as medical care and therapy — remain universal.

Partial Hospitalization (PHP): As the name implies, partial hospitalization is a part-time approach to full-time recovery. This step usually follows outpatient care, meaning one’s goals transfer over and any headway made is continued full steam ahead. The same therapy and group sessions will continue, too. The real difference here is that partial hospitalization programs do not require 24/7 care. Thus, patients do not have to stay at the center — contingent upon them arriving more than three days a week for several hours at a time to continue their treatment.  

Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOP): IOPs combine the autonomy of outpatient programs with the structure of a partial hospitalization program. Patients come in for a few hours one or two days per week. The rest of their schedule is now open for work, educational and familamial obligations.

Outpatient Programs: This final stage takes place from there on out. Trips to a rehab center are on an as-needed basis or to take prescriptions.

At no point during this process is a patient ever held against their will. Those in recovery are free to leave their care, even inpatient programs, whenever they see fit. It is an unfortunate reality that some individuals leave before progress is made, but the simple fact of the matter is that adults must always have the freedom to choose for themselves, especially when it comes to health. By actively choosing to participate, patients are able to make real progress.

A drug rehab counselor is at the forefront of each one of these stages. They are the force that helps guide patients along, intervening whenever and wherever needed along the way.

Counselors work hand in hand with the medical staff, physicians and nurses at a rehabilitation center. In tandem, these experts craft and then realize treatment plans for patients. In addition, drug addiction counselors take part in observations during patient intake and initial assessments to provide their feedback and recommendations for treatment options. They have a strong sense of a client’s needs, both physically and mentally, so their opinion is often an invaluable asset.

While other rehab professionals are tasked with structuring and supervising treatment, certified addiction counselors are able to play the role of spectator. Their comments can change treatment plans to better suit evolving needs. Interestingly enough, they can even dictate what other staff members can do to better help patients reach their goals.

Continuity of care is another monumental task for counselors. During their one-on-one and group sessions with patients, they will begin to paint a picture of what someone’s long-term treatment may look like beyond the walls of their rehab center. While physicians work on dealing with “how” to treat their patient, counselors can focus on the “why.” They are tasked with many intangibles and uncertainties and asked to make sense of them all. It is a vital role — underlying personal issues that can make or break a recovery effort.


If you’re looking for assistance from a drug rehab counselor, The Recovery Village can help. Call 352.771.2700 today to learn more about treatment options and therapy, or to register for a rehabilitation plan.

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