How Drug & Alcohol Counselors Achieve Success

How Drug & Alcohol Counselors Achieve Success
Drug addiction intervention specialists perform a 12-step program for successful drug and alcohol counseling. Drug intervention programs aim to cure an addict of their substance abuse disorder and free them from addiction. substance abuse counselors are like the coaches who guide addicts through the entire recovery process. A successful addiction counselor helps craft a treatment plan for an addict. Different addicts require customized programs. Professional counselors must provide the appropriate guidance based on the level of care an addict may need. However, a successful drug abuse intervention demands that counselors embody the 12 steps to help addicted clients overcome their condition. Here is a closer look at each step of a treatment program that substance abuse counselors generally follow. This overview may help you understand the steps that addiction specialists take to help clients. Thus, you may determine whether your loved one needs professional help to overcome addiction.

Step 1: Screening the Patient

Addiction counselors screen patients before determining whether they require substance abuse treatment. This first step involves the professionals considering various diagnostic criteria to assess a potential patient’s drug usage habits. These professionals determine whether a client’s habits constitute non-harmful recreational use or are bordering on abuse. During the patient screening, competent drug and alcohol counselors should know how to describe and explain the different criteria they use to assess a potential patient’s case. Usually, a substance abuse counselor will describe these measures through examples. Depending on the drug that a person is using, substance abuse counselors will adjust their approach in explaining how substances contribute to a person’s dysfunctionality. Meanwhile, screening also involves selecting the ideal program a client would need. Potential patients could undergo an inpatient, outpatient, or residential program, among the most common addiction prevention treatments. The following criteria are among the factors that counselors evaluate to judge a client’s program:
  • Psychological functions
  • Physical condition
  • Motivation for using substances
  • Treatment history
  • Support resources
Note that different states may require specific criteria for screening a person for drug and alcohol addiction treatment programs. Counselors must understand their local state laws when forming judgments for a potential patient. Counselors must also have knowledge and resources to suggest alternative options should they determine a patient is unfit for treatment programs available in their area.

Step 2: Filling Out an Addict’s Patient Intake

Counselors fill out the necessary patient intake forms once they complete the initial assessment. Intake forms contain complex and technical aspects that rehabilitation facilities require when admitting a patient. So, counselors must ultimately determine a person’s qualification for such treatment services. Every patient has a different case, meaning they have unique documentary requirements. Some patients may require a greater volume of paperwork than other patients. In addition, additional treatment facilities may have exclusive admission processes. Thus, the counselor must adjust to the individual demands of each patient they handle. Counselors may need a patient’s information to fill out their intake form correctly. Patients would grant their counselor permission to gather such information and provide its details to official bodies or facilities that may need them. Understanding the different process regulations and guidelines is a crucial skill that drug and alcohol counselors need to achieve success.

Step 3: Orienting the Patient

Patients would undergo program orientation once they complete the screening and admission stages. Orientation involves introducing the patient to the treatment program’s goals and nature. This stage would help the patient know what to expect as they enter the addiction treatment. So, their counselor must understand the selected facility’s different aspects. Counselors who know everything about a facility’s ins and outs can effectively reassure patients about the treatment they are about to undergo by educating them about such aspects. At the same time, counselors are protecting the establishment’s reputation. Every treatment facility likewise has expectations from patients. Counselors must orient incoming patients about an establishment’s conduct rules. This information would include disciplinary actions that a facility can rightfully impose should a patient fail to comply with a program’s rules. Counselors must also orient a patient about their rights when undergoing a facility’s treatment program. A facility has unique treatment costs, and clients may have specific insurance policies that they can rightfully use to cover such prices.

Step 4: Assessing the Patient

Patient assessment involves the counselor identifying their patient’s best path within the treatment method ideal for them through one-on-one meetings. The counselor will evaluate their patient’s strengths, weaknesses, and unique problems. This procedure helps the counselor identify their patient’s mental state and capacity to undergo treatment. Assessing a patient usually begins with the counselor finding the correct approach in obtaining information from their patient. They must find the best way to communicate with their patients to ensure that they get reliable material. As their patient opens up, the counselor can gather a patient’s information. Patient information includes their medical history. Counselors usually use a patient’s traumas, substance abuse history, mental health history, and addictive habits, including gambling and excessive gaming. Such information factors into the proper treatment method for a patient. Counselors must also conduct continuing evaluations through regular patient assessments. For instance, a patient checked into a residential treatment facility may exhibit better progress than anticipated during the initial evaluation. As such, the patient would require adjusted doses.

Step 5: Planning the Patient’s Treatment

Counselors use the data they’ve gathered from previous steps to plan the concrete treatment method their patients undergo as they begin the addiction recovery process. Treatment planning involves finding specific tactics that would best resolve the patient’s needs. This step also involves the counselor ranking the patient’s specific problems. Prioritizing a patient’s needs regarding addiction allows the counselor to establish goals for a more straightforward road to success. Patients have long-term and short-term goals during their rehabilitation journey. The counselor must explain the identified goals and the assessment results as best as they can. Breaking down the tactics to a patient helps them know what to expect and prepare for their time in a facility. Reliable counselors can translate the medical jargon they may encounter when assessing their patient’s treatment plan.

Step 6: Counseling the Patient

This halfway step involves the counselor working with patients and their concerned family members to achieve the identified goals and objectives. Treatment facilities may have individual or group counseling treatment plan types, depending on the best approach for a patient’s unique problems. Counselors will explore their patient’s problems and help them understand the consequences of substance abuse. Counselors further try to understand their patient’s feelings and attitudes toward this new knowledge they encounter. A good addiction counselor must adopt the appropriate addiction counseling type when assisting their patient. Different cases call for specific measures, and the counselor must use techniques best suited to solve their patient’s problems. At the same time, counselors offer therapeutic advice as their patient undergoes the intended treatment plan and reaches solutions.

Step 7: Managing the Patient’s Individual Case

This stage involves collaborative actions between people, services, and agencies in executing the established treatment framework. Case management can be a broad stage as it includes the necessary methods for meeting the patient’s short-term and long-term goals. Generally, case management criteria include coordination between the patient and the client care services they are due and the counselor’s explanation of such care management activities. The counselor must ensure their patient completely understands the methods prepared for their treatment and the goals they intend to meet. Case management may also involve the counselor ensuring the highest quality healthcare and treatment services for their patient. In essence, this stage is about coordination between concerned agencies with regard to a patient’s rehabilitation process. It is up to the counselor to clarify each player’s role in the different programs.

Step 8: Intervention in Times of Crisis

The crisis intervention stage involves recognizing specific acute physical and emotional distress patients are likely to experience during their treatment plan. Drug and alcohol rehab is complex and may include unexpected recovery issues or drug relapse throughout their recovery journey. This step aims to identify potential crises patients may face in their specific treatment program. The counselor would inspect the program’s elements to provide proper treatment. If the patient’s situation involves physical distress in response to treatments while undergoing the program, the counselor must act immediately to resolve the condition. Some crises may be too severe for patients to the point that it turns out harmful, canceling the recovery efforts thus far. So, counselors must have foresight based on the data on their patients to prevent situations from worsening effectively. Reliable counselors with years of experience in alcohol and drug counseling can adjust treatment plans in times of crisis. They would also develop strategies to avoid similar occurrences for future patients.

Step 9: Educating the Patient

Continuous education is necessary to keep the patient on track throughout their treatment procedure. Counselors must offer formal and informal processes to ensure their patients remain in the loop about the treatment stages they are undergoing. Patients undergoing treatment need updated information on relevant factors, including the treatments they receive, any discoveries regarding their specific case, and their progress during rehabilitation. These details would change depending on the patient’s response to treatment, making constant knowledge of a patient’s improvement (or lack thereof) necessary for the patient to adjust. Patient education may also inform and remind patients about the courses of action to maintain their care. Rehabilitation is a collaborative process and requires the patient to participate in their recovery. So, knowing about the best ways to manage themselves would give the patient a clear view of the direction they are headed with regards to recovery.

Step 10: Referring the Patient to Other Facilities

Patients may need referrals to other agencies that are better suited for the patient’s individual needs. This stage involves directing a patient to a potentially more qualified counselor who can meet a patient’s needs as the situation calls for it. The counselor must advise their patient accordingly to determine that another agency or counselor is more likely to meet the patient’s needs. They would explain which services the patient must seek outside of the current facility they have. Counselors can utilize community resources and support systems they have access to when referring patients to other facilities. In addition, counselors must follow applicable laws during referral. Patient confidentiality still follows local, state, and federal regulations when transferring facilities for supplemental assistance, if ever needed.

Step 11: Documenting the Patient’s Progress

This stage involves keeping records and reporting treatment results. Assessment results need careful documentation to track a patient’s progress. Patient records typically include reports on their performance during treatment, counselor notes, and discharge summaries. Such information is confidential but necessary for tracking. This documentation helps counselors develop future plans for their patient’s continued recovery. At the same time, patients will understand their options in recovering. Such documents may also help future facilities should a patient require supplemental treatment methods.

Step 12: Communicating With Other Drug and Alcohol Counselors

Cross-consultation is the final stage of successful counseling services. Counselors must speak with other professionals regarding a specific patient’s case. Patients receive better treatment and services when they experience in-house and outside resources, ensuring comprehensive care with multiple professional input. Primary drug and alcohol counselors will benefit from collaborating with other professionals in the field. The point of this stage is to ensure the most effective care services of the highest quality for a patient’s successful addiction treatment.


Drug and alcohol counselors achieve success by following 12 core functions. These steps require mastery to adapt to every patient because cases vary between individuals. Success begins with screening a patient. Counselors will determine an individual’s capacity for addiction treatment. Later on, the counselor will use the data gathered during the initial screening to identify the most suitable treatment program. Treatment programs are also volatile, requiring counselors to keep close track of a patient’s progress and adjust accordingly depending on how well or poorly the patient responds to the treatment program. Be sure to seek counseling services from reliable drug and alcohol counselors to ensure success for your addicted loved one.
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