What Is The Role of A Therapist In Drug Addiction Recovery

We write our honest reviews but this page may contain affiliate links, with some of the partners mentioned, to support this website. Read more here

As we all know that addiction is a deep-routed disease. Addicts of alcohol and drugs suffer from more than just the effects of substance abuse.  Most of their psychological issues result from a mental disorder or an event in the past.

This is why addicts need psychological help during the recovery process. They provide a critical support system for individuals recovering from drug and alcohol issues, gambling addiction, and other behavioral issues. By forming trustworthy relationships with patients, counselors provide resources, support, and judgment-free guidance that patients can utilize.

This guide will help you understand the role of a therapist in addiction therapy. So, let’s begin.

Create a Therapeutic Alliance with Patients

For an addict, the decision to seek treatment is not easy. It requires a great deal of trust between patient and their counselor. That is why counselors should create a robust bond with their patients, referred to as the therapeutic alliance.

This alliance is the trust patients feel with their counselors, which allows them to feel vulnerable checking out their problems and work together effectively. A robust therapeutic alliance ensures that patients view their counselor as trustworthy and know that their best interests are at the forefront.

Counselors can create a strong therapeutic alliance by:

  • Attentiveness during sessions
  • Ensuring patients that you’re interested in their well-being.
  • Letting patients know you will empathize with their problems.
  • Understanding the foundational issues at play in recovery.

A solid therapeutic alliance is a crucial factor in addiction recovery. It creates an environment where patients feel comfortable and welcome discussing their hardships.

Encourage Patient Recovery

Recovering from addiction is very difficult. Most often, people with alcohol or drug dependency fail to recognize their own patterns of abuse. This is where an addiction therapist plays a crucial role.

Therapist or counselor encourage their patients to stick with rehab and treatment. They constantly let them know about the benefits a sober lifestyle will bring.

Focus on a Patient’s Unique Experience

Every addict endures different symptoms and emotions when going through recovery. In short, none of the recovering addicts are the same.

An essential part of an addiction therapist’s job is not to treat every addict the same. Instead, they have to assist their patients through their unique recovery journey. Therapists have to take every patient like a textbook study.

Building Trust

An addict goes through a lot during their journey of recovering. They endure one of the most challenging times of their lives. It is easy for an addict to have an emotional outburst and not want to comply with their treatment.

But why they behave this way? The main reason is they lack trust. The substances were their only companion for many years. So they don’t know what life is without their substance.

The role of a therapist is to help an addict build trust again. Because without trust, their patients won’t receive the help they need.

Provide Guidance for Loved Ones

Addiction recovery isn’t only about the addict. This process is also complex for the loved ones of the addict. They witness withdrawals, intense mood swings and watch their loved ones suffer. So, it’s also common for them to have questions about recovery and unsure of their roles.

An addiction therapist supports not only the addict but also their loved ones. They provide information on substance abuse, the recovery process, and what loved ones can do to help their loved ones.

From the intervention to the instant when the addict is cleaned up from their addiction, an addiction therapist will be present in the whole process. Even after that, they provide more guidance on sober living.

Refer Patients to Support Groups

Therapy is not a former addict’s only option for psychological help. However, connecting with like-minded people helps them understand their addiction, reinforces that they aren’t alone in this journey.

But how does one go about finding support groups? First, the addiction therapist starts recommending support groups during initial sessions.

A good addiction therapist builds up a list of support groups for different substances. They even have support groups that can help former addicts engage in other activities, such as art or yoga.

Help Patients Develop a Relapse Prevention Plan

The chronic nature of addiction ensures that most of the diagnosed people will relapse at some point during recovery. Some studies revealed that 40-60 percent of addicts would relapse at some point during their life, which is on par with other well-understood diseases such as asthma, diabetes, and hypertension. But that doesn’t mean that treatment has failed; rather, it serves as an indicator that treatment plans need to be adjusted to best help the patient.

Once an addict decided to seek treatment, they must be well equipped to avoid relapse in the future. It requires quite just the willpower to mention “no” when temptation arises, and prevention must start early within the recovery process. Therefore, a comprehensive relapse plan is an essential part of the therapist’s role in addiction recovery.

Therapists made plans according to the needs of each patient, but essential elements include:

  • A detailed profile of the patient’s experience with drug abuse, including previous relapses.
  • Complete a list of family members, friends, and counselors that can further be used as a support network.
  • All the warning signs and ways patients can best manage them.
  • Emergency relapse plan.
  • Particular lifestyle changes that patients can do to prioritize their well-being

Crisis Intervention

Even with the best treatment facilities and plans, drug and alcohol recovery are not an easy process. Every patient will mainly experience acute physical and emotional distress at some point, including recovery issues and drug relapse.

To provide proper treatment, counselors must recognize the specific crisis and examine the particular elements of the situation, especially physical distress.

The therapist set an immediate course of action, depending on the cases. Effective therapists need to take fast action to prevent the situation from worsening.


Therapists are an essential part of every treatment facility. The functions mentioned above are difficult to master, but they must be considered for every patient. And when all these goals are met, patients will be able to recover and regain their lives.   

John S.

Share this post

Related Articles