We all know someone who has struggled with addiction, whether it’s a family member, friend, or even ourselves. A person suffering from addiction needs to seek help from a professional like an addiction specialist, who can help if you or someone you know is struggling with addiction.
Addiction specialists play a significant role in the recovery process since addiction is a complex disease that alters the brain fundamentally. Aside from providing patients with the tools and resources, they need to overcome their addiction, these specialists may also prescribe medication as a way to manage their symptoms. In many cases, addiction specialists provide support and guidance throughout the recovery process.
What is an Addiction Specialist?
An addiction specialist should not be confused with a drug and alcohol counselor, a medical doctor, a psychiatrist, or a psychotherapist, although their role can be described as a combination of the work done by these other types of professionals.
In essence, an addiction specialist is a medical doctor who specializes in the treatment of addiction. They offer both behavioral and pharmacological therapies for treating addiction. In addition to life changes, such as exercise and nutrition counseling, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), and 12-step programs, they work with patients to develop long-term recovery plans. The American Board of Addiction Medicine (ABAM) certifies addiction specialists, who use their knowledge of the disease to create individual treatment plans.
How Does Addiction Develop?
Before discussing how an addiction specialist can help you it’s first necessary to understand the nature of addiction itself. This will help clarify the role they play in overcoming addictions and why they sometimes create a treatment plan that approaches it from different angles. According to clinical definitions, addiction is a chronic, relapsing disease characterized by compulsive drug use despite harmful consequences. In addition to changing the structure and function of the brain, drugs are considered brain diseases. People who abuse drugs can experience long-term changes that lead to harmful behaviors.
Another crucial thing to understand about addiction is that people never intend to become addicted to drugs or alcohol. Addictions usually begin with casual or occasional use of recreational drugs like alcohol, nicotine, or marijuana. However, as a person’s ability to control their use of these substances deteriorates over time, they lose control. Many factors contribute to this loss of control, including genetic predisposition, environmental influences (such as stress), and social influences (such as peer pressure). When addiction progresses, a person becomes increasingly dependent on the drug to cope with everyday life, resulting in compulsive drug-seeking behavior.
How Specifically Can an Addiction Specialist Help You?
When it comes to addiction, there is no specific, tested treatment plan that works for everyone. What works for one person may not work for another. That’s why an addiction specialist will develop a tailored plan to meet your unique needs. To overcome addiction and mental health issues, addiction specialists provide counseling. To help patients recover from addiction, many use cognitive behavioral therapy, preferring this approach to other therapeutic modalities. This is because numerous scientific studies have reviewed cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for the past decade and concluded that it is effective addiction treatment for identifying and changing negative thought patterns and behaviors that lead to addiction. Along with providing individual therapy, addiction therapists may also offer group therapy.
Besides offering individual and group therapy, an addiction specialist may also offer a form of family therapy by advising your family on how to emotionally support you as you begin your recovery journey. As you work with them to identify lifestyle habits that may trigger your addictive behavior and help you develop healthier coping mechanisms, they may suggest quitting smoking, eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and getting plenty of sleep. In addition, they may offer educational classes on topics such as substance abuse, relapse prevention, and anger management, among others.
If you’re struggling with a substance abuse problem, our addiction specialists can develop a tailored treatment plan that meets your unique needs. Call us today at 833-610-1174 if you’re ready to make a change and need to reach out to an addiction specialist today. We offer a variety of proven therapies, including cognitive behavioral therapy, to help you recover from addiction.