All posts in substance abuse treatment

The Five Traits of a Strong Addiction Counselor

Addiction counselors have a demanding career that has no “regular hours” or “typical days”. 

In fact, being an addiction counselor requires certain professional skills and personality traits like few other jobs. It’s a difficult career choice but also an immensely rewarding one. 

If you are looking for an addiction counselor or are considering it as a career, here are several important traits that every counselor should have:

  1. Good listener: The art of any conversation begins with listening. Addiction counselors must have this trait as they will be meeting with patients all day. They have to not only hear what their patients are saying, but they also have to listen to them. Their listening builds rapport and trust. It also helps to build a relationship with the patient.   
  2. Empathy: Addiction counselors need to understand and share the feeling of another. They should be kind and have a desire to help their patients. They should not be harshly judgmental. Empathetic counselors will make deep connections with their patients who will, in turn, open up about their addictions and struggles. Many addiction counselors can empathize because they have been through it themselves. They may even be in recovery, too!
  3. High ethical standards: Successful addiction counselors hold themselves to a high code of ethics and standards. They have professional licenses and certifications and belong to organizations that assist with continuing education. *** Some counselors are also addicted but are in recovery and not using drugs or alcohol.  They “practice what they preach”. 
  4. Flexibility: Addiction counselors must have been able to bounce back after an adverse situation. They have to readjust to changes and keep going in the face of adversity. It’s essential everything is not under their control. Patients will relapse and have many struggles. Not being emotionally tied to every client is crucial. This trait is developed over time as the counselor learns to empower each client to rise above addiction.
  5. Cultural sensitivity: Addiction counselors must take time to understand the cultural backgrounds of their clients. They should have well-developed cultural competencies in order to interact with patients of different ethnicities and backgrounds. 

As you can see, this is not a “9-to-5 job”. It is a position requiring more than forty hours a week and competency in a number of areas. But, most importantly, it requires an individual who listens and has empathy for people struggling with drug or alcohol addiction. 

Concerted Care has a staff of trained, licensed, and experienced drug addiction, counselors. If you or someone you know needs substance abuse treatment, consult one of our experienced counselors. The Concerted Care Group of Central Baltimore, MD, and Brooklyn, MD, has a compassionate behavioral health team that includes therapists, a psychiatric nurse practitioner, psychiatric and medical providers a nurse practitioner, and a psychiatrist. Services include individual, group, and family therapy for adults and adolescents. Group therapy and psychiatric services are available for adults.

Contact us at (833) CCG-LIVE to make an appointment.

*** Go to The National Association for Addiction Professionals website for a list of licenses and certifications for drug addiction counselors.

Substance Abuse Treatment: The Key Principles

Substance abuse is serious, and most people understand that. However, before treating substance abuse, a few principles must be understood as the client’s family and loved ones move forward. 

But, even before we discuss that, we must first define “substance abuse treatment.” According to

Drug treatment is intended to help addicted individuals stop compulsive drug seeking and use. Treatment can occur in a variety of settings, take many different forms, and last for different lengths of time. Because drug addiction is typically a chronic disorder characterized by occasional relapses, short-term, one-time treatment is usually not sufficient. For many, treatment is a long-term process that involves multiple interventions and regular monitoring.

The key term in that definition is “stop compulsive drug seeking and use.” Any credible substance abuse treatment must have as its goal the end of substance abuse, not merely the cessation. 

There are a number of substance abuse treatment options. Treatment also varies depending on the person’s characteristics and needs. Based on these variables, the substance abuser benefits immensely from having an advocate to help them choose the best treatment plan and center for the patient. 

So, as the substance abuser’s advocates begin the search for the best treatment center program, here are several principles to consider: 

  1. There is no “one treatment” that does it all: Substance abuse treatments can take many different forms, medications, and environments. Each treatment center has its own staff and methods of working with patients. Though one treatment may work for one patient, it may fail with another. Any licensed substance abuse treatment center will have statistics on its success or failure. One important point to consider is relapsing. Most short-term treatments fail as the patient returns to substance abuse. Thus, the consideration of long-term treatments, which are proven to be more effective, would be a wise choice. Again, the goal is the complete ending of substance abuse for the patient and long-term treatments have proven to accomplish that goal.  
  2. Substance abusers cannot quit on their own: Most addicts believe they can quit and do it without anyone’s help. They believe they know themselves better than anyone else and are motivated more than anyone to quit. This is false. Substance abusers cannot quit on their own. They are, in fact, powerless to do so. As drug addiction research has shown, substances change the way the brain functions. Using the substance becomes a compulsory behavior that requires them to use it to fulfill the need. The substance controls them, not the other way around. Substance abusers need treatment, or else they will fail every time. Once the addict and their family accept this fact, they can then proceed with substance abuse treatment. 
  3. The effectiveness of substance abuse treatment: Once the substance abuse treatment has begun, the medical personnel and case manager will direct the patient to become a positive, productive, and functional member of society. Their family, career, and community also become their focus, not just themselves. It means a complete turn-around from narcissistic drug use to serving others. Therapeutic treatment centers, such as ours, offer comprehensive and compassionate treatment. Make sure that the treatment offered to the patient is the same. It should treat the “whole person,” not just the addiction. 
  4. Use of drugs to treat drug addiction: It may seem bizarrely hypocritical to treat addiction with another drug, but studies have shown that they work. Methadone is a proven, credible, and effective treatment for opioid and narcotic abuse. So, when researching treatment, consider these medications. Methadone has been used since the 1940s and has been shown to end the use of opioids and other narcotics. 
  5. Keeping the patient in treatment: The substance abuse treatment may be working, however, the patient may not be so co-operative. They may even try to flee or check out of the treatment altogether. Counselors on staff have to be a strong force to keep the patient on-task. Make sure that the treatment center has experienced, no-nonsense, substance abuse counselors on staff. The counselor needs to develop a personalized treatment plan for each patient. Included in the case management team should be medical, psychiatric, social services, and other authoritative individuals to keep the patient-focused on the treatment plan. 
  6. Follow-up programs when the patient finishes the treatment: Once the patient has completed the program, follow-up is crucial. They did not get off the drug alone, and they will not stay off it alone. They need to join a 12-step program such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Cocaine Anonymous, or the program that the treatment center recommends. A sponsor will take the patient under their wing and work with them and make them accountable. 

Thousands of substance abusers successfully complete treatment every year. You, your family member, colleague, or friend can do it, too. 

If you or someone you know needs substance abuse treatment, consult one of our experienced counselors. The Concerted Care Group of Central Baltimore, MD, and Brooklyn, MD, has a compassionate Behavioral Health team which includes therapists, a psychiatric nurse practitioner, a nurse practitioner, and a psychiatrist. Services include individual and family therapy for adults and adolescents. Group therapy and psychiatric services are available for adults.

Contact us at (833) CCG-LIVE to make an appointment. 



Outpatient Drug Rehab vs. Inpatient Treatment

Drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs were developed to meet the immediate needs of the substance abuser. Lodging Homes and Homes for the Fallen, known as “inebriate homes,” were opened in Boston in the 1850s to treat alcoholics. 

In the 1920s, “Morphine Maintenance Clinics” were opened to treat people with morphine addiction. Halfway Houses began in the 1950s for drug and alcohol addicted persons – designed to be safe, recovery-focused homes. 

From these homes and many other treatment advances came the modern outpatient drug rehabilitation and inpatient drug rehabilitation programs. These rehabilitation programs have helped millions of addicts recover from their drug addiction to lead normal, sober lives. 

Outpatient drug rehab and inpatient drug rehab have both similarities and significant differences. Let’s look at how each one works for the patient.

Outpatient Drug Rehab

This type of rehab is a part-time program that does not require the recovering user to stay in a clinic full-time. Outpatient rehab allows the patient to go home or to school during the day. 

The patient typically attends rehab programming 10-12 hours a week over 3-6 months, up to 12 months when needed. Sessions focus on drug abuse education, individual and group counseling, and learning how to cope with the challenges of life without taking the drug(s). 

Outpatient drug rehab allows patients to remain in their home environment while benefiting from a structured therapeutic program. Clinicians assess their progress every week. 

Outpatient drug rehab programs do not isolate them from people and situations which could negatively impact their recovery. Because patients still live in their own homes during treatment, they have to be genuinely motivated to refrain from drug abuse. 

Support systems in their network, such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA), provide group counseling and encouragement off-site. Thus, no patient will be recovering alone. Sponsors and peers are ready and willing to stand with them through every step of their recovery.   

Many individuals in a long-term program may utilize outpatient drug rehab. Outpatient drug rehab can be effective for patients with mild or strong drug addictions.

Finally, outpatient care relies significantly on the involvement of the patient’s family. Unwavering family support and encouragement are crucial to the patient’s success in recovering from drug addiction. 

Inpatient Drug Rehab

Individuals in a recovery program may also benefit from inpatient drug rehab. It is different in structure from outpatient drug rehab, but its goals are the same.

Inpatient drug rehabs are held in hospitals or residential substance abuse facilities. Both options require patients to live there 24-hours a day – completely removing the patients from their regular lives and peers. Thus, there is less temptation and opportunity to use drugs. In inpatient drug rehab, the patient’s entire focus is on detoxing from all addictive substances, getting sober, and learning how to stay sober.

Treatments times vary from 30, 60, or 90 days up to a year (or longer, depending on the progress made). Clinicians keep patients on strict schedules for medications, meetings, treatments, counseling, and other addiction care.

Inpatient drug rehab teaches patients to focus all their time and effort on taking personal responsibility for their lives while addressing the negative behavior which led to addiction. They also learn to develop positive habits that will help them stay sober. Their relationships, career, and community are tied to their recovery. Patients also receive recommendations for relapse prevention and sobriety support groups to join when treatment ends.   

Outpatient vs. Inpatient

Both types of drug rehab options are beneficial, depending on the patient’s needs. A healthcare team will make a recommendation for each patient. If you or a loved one has a drug addiction, please consult a physician immediately. 

Concerted Care of Central Baltimore and Brooklyn, MD, has an intensive outpatient drug rehab treatment program that allows clients to get the steady ongoing support they need for difficult periods in their recovery. It includes both individual and group sessions with qualified professionals who help guide individuals through challenging periods in their recovery. IOP is not intended to be a long term solution, but a bridge to stable maintenance.

Call Concerted Care at (833) 224-5483 for a consultation. We serve the Central Baltimore, MD, and Brooklyn. MD areas.

Substance Abuse: What is “Whole Person, Whole Life Treatment”?

There are many ways to treat substance abuse.

In fact, there are probably as many different treatments as there are substances. Some substance abuse treatments are successful and have stood the test of time. Many others are trendy and controversial and have not withstood research and testing.

And while the success of any substance abuse treatment truly depends on the patient receiving it, the elements of the treatment and the treatment center doing it are also crucial. It is, ultimately, a team effort.

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Interview: Alfreda Patterson, Substance Abuse Counselor

Ms. Alfreda Patterson is a Substance Abuse Counselor at the Concerted Care Group in Baltimore, Maryland.

She began working at CCG in 2015. Her personal experiences and deep desires to assist people motivated her to become a counselor. Especially, people who have substance abuse disorders.

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