If you, a family member, a partner, or a friend are affected by opioid addiction, you know that overwhelming life situations can so often be a major contributing factor. It may be the loss of a loved one, the loss of employment, or maybe the lack of meaningful connections with family and friends.
Counseling is crucial in the opioid addiction recovery process. Counseling offers patients the opportunity to talk through any personal issues which in turn strengthens the recovery process.
While medication-assisted treatment (MAT) with Suboxone (buprenorphine) may treat the physical symptoms like withdrawal and cravings, it will do little to help change one’s mindset to get through tougher days. Let’s take a look at counseling and find out why it is so valuable.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is another name for counseling. CBT is a psychotherapy that aims to help patients identify negative thought patterns and to change them. Patients are equipped with learning how to handle negative life situations by processing and reflecting on them objectively and effectively. Patients learn how to make positive life decisions that can lead to positive results.
CBT is recommended for a whole range of medical conditions, such as depression, anxiety, and obsessive compulsive disorders. It is also highly recommended for patients who are struggling with opioid addiction and people who are on Suboxone as part of medication-assisted treatment. CBT works together with medication to provide for a more robust path to recovery.
What Are Some Obstacles To Receiving Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?
One of the biggest obstacles to patients receiving CBT is the lack of knowledge about the importance of this therapy–among patients but also healthcare providers. Many people see medicine solely through the lens of diagnosis and drug prescription and are not aware of counseling services that may prove to be hugely effective.
Oftentimes, patients struggling with opioid addiction are told about the type of drugs that they can be prescribed for their condition, such as buprenorphine and methadone, without also being advised on the type of counseling services that are available.
Another barrier to receiving CBT is the cost. In the United States, most people pay between $20 to $250 per hour for counseling services. If they are insured, the cost lowers to about $20 to $50 per hour. However, these costs may prove to be steep for lower-income people.
Another problem is that some patients just do not know where to find high-quality counseling services. There is a lack of awareness in many parts of the country about where patients can find affordable counseling services in their local areas. There may also be some stigma attached to speaking with a counselor.
Ironically, many people only receive counseling services once they end up in jail. The United States prison sector is one of the largest providers of counseling services in the country. Needless to say, people should not need to commit a crime to access counseling services.
What Are Some Options?
While finding affordable CBT in your area may be difficult, one form of non-medical gatherings that many opioid addiction recoverers find helpful is Narcotics Anonymous. Through these gatherings, people struggling with opioid addiction can find other people who are going through similar hardships. This creates a support network that can be incredibly helpful in the recovery process.
While an in-person counselor is always preferred, an alternative could be digital counseling. PEAR Therapeutics offers digital CBT services (reSET-O) for people struggling with opioid addiction. Its purpose is to support the recovery process by exploring deep issues such as triggers and cravings and how to overcome them. Patients are incentivized with gift cards when successfully completing modules.
It is FDA-approved and meant to be an adjunct to medication-assisted therapy (with Suboxone/buprenorphine) and is not meant to be taken alone.
Counseling can greatly improve outcomes for patients struggling with opioid addiction. It offers an avenue for people to feel seen and heard.
Together with medication-assisted therapy, it provides the best opportunity for recovery and growth for people affected by opioid addiction.