Addiction is not cured by a pill. It is a behavior problem … the behavior needs to be changed. Many people have been successful in curing themselves without help … it can be done.
But for those who are unable to do it by themselves … medication and counseling will improve the chances of recovery.
Medication can be obtained through any Suboxone doctor … one doctor is going to be as good as another … all the doctor has to do is to provide you with a prescription.
Benefits of counseling
The medical doctor’s role is very limited in your treatment … the role is to follow the rules and regulations, and provide you a prescription. Your own motivation and self-discipline are the most important parts, and a help of a good counselor and a structured treatment program can aid in your recovery.
By the time people realize that they have an addiction problem … it has become more than just an addiction problem.
It is a financial problem … it is an employment problem … it is a family problem … it is a legal problem … it is a health problem … it is a depression problem … it is an anger management problem … and so on.
A counselor can help you understand and prioritize your problems … and direct your energy towards solving the more pressing problems first. Counseling can provide structure and discipline to your recovery process.
Relapse is common … your counselor can help you work through your relapse and get back on track.
Counseling is not provided in my clinic … there is no on site counselor. I require that patients find a counselor on their own.
This gives you a choice … you can find a counselor within your budget, according to your liking, and convenience. I am not a provider for any insurance … but if you have insurance then you may be able to obtain counseling through your insurance plan.
Deciding on an addiction counselor
You should meet at least three counselors before you decide which one to go with.
This gives you a chance to see whether the counselor is someone that you feel comfortable discussing personal issues with, … whether the counselor is someone you can respect, and whose advice you will follow.
This also gives you a chance to see:
- What kind of office does the counselor has?
- Is it in a good area?
- Is it easily accessbile?
- Does the office have a seating area for parents, or attendants, … in case someone will be bringing you for counseling sessions.
- Do you have privacy during the sessions?
- Are the office hours such that you can keep appointments while working or studying?
Women are generally better served by women counselors, because they feel more comfortable with them. Men are better served by male counselors … probably because men do not want to listen to women.
Your counseling is going to be a long affair over several months, that is why it is very important to chose a counselor that you like working with. In the beginning you may have to see your counselor once every week, or every two weeks.
When meeting a counselor ask:
- What is the fee per session?
- Does the counselor require sessions once every week … or once every month?
- What is the policy about missed appointments?
- How easy or difficult it is to make up for a missed appointment?
- Does the counselor provide any workbook? or additional resources?
- Does the counselor provide documentation for insurance, court, your Suboxone doctor, etc?
- Is the counselor accessible beyond office hours, to discuss relapse.
- Does the counselor work with any Suboxone providers?
- Does the counselor offer any group counseling? (May be less expensive, but there is no privacy)
- Does the counselor have any requirements that may be a problem for you?
Finding an addiction counselor
One of the benefits of attending narcotics anonymous and similar meetings is that … you can ask others about their treatment, program policies and costs, and their overall experience of the program.
Many people do not attend such meetings as these meetings are open to the public, … so there is no privacy or confidentiality.
If you know someone who is currently in a program then you can ask them about it. Many people have been through more than one program, and they can tell you the positives and negatives about those programs.
There are a few websites where counselors advertise. These websites have links to their profile, which may have their picture, the fee schedule, and other practice parameters. You can search the profiles according to zip codes, and look for substance abuse counselors. I have not found the information to be accurate and many counselors did not reply to my e-mail; … but that is where you can start.
The following website provides a search feature:
There is also a certification, and separate licensing for alcohol and drug abuse counselors. They are called Licensed Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselor (LADAC).
It is not necessary that you go to such a counselor, as someone with that qualification may not be available in your area; but if one is available they are likely to offer a program dedicated to alcohol and drug abuse.
These counselors are also more likely to be familiar with Suboxone and similar medications, the tapering protocol, may have information and familiarity about Suboxone prescribers in that area, and may have a good understanding of the drug courts and its procedures.
What is intensive counseling? Intensive counseling is more frequent counseling … like everyday. Intensive programs are longer hours of lectures … everyday.
They are not suitable for someone who is working or attending school. Most of these are run by people who are not medical doctors, and do not prescribe Suboxone. I do not see how anyone can pay attention to counseling, … or lectures while they are going through withdrawal.
When choosing a counselor, please ask if they provide a workbook and written documentation of counseling sessions that you can bring to my clinic.
… If not, then that counseling will not meet the requirement of my clinic.