Substance Abuse: Counseling Critical Issue

Subject: Sociology
Pages: 9
Words: 2498
Reading time:
9 min
Study level: PhD


Substance abuse is a critical issue in the field of counseling as it cuts across all sections of society and affects all people in the affected societies in one way or another. In many states, substance abuse stands out as the most prevalent health problem leading to an array of mental disorders. All counselors, at one point in their career, meet an individual with issues related to drug use irrespective of the area of specialization under the broad category of counseling. The substance abuse field addresses the issues affecting substance abusers. This aspect has the potential of attracting keen interest to the field of substance abuse in a bid to understand the process of substance use, abuse, addiction, preferred counseling, treatment, and intervention approaches. Substance abuse is the harmful consumption of psychoactive substances such as illicit drugs and alcohol.

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The research articles reviewed in this paper focus on various methodological approaches in verifying the current knowledge, assumptions, and theories as well as questioning their reliability. The commonly discussed approaches for treatment in this field include group therapy, medicated assisted treatment, individual counseling, and recovery meetings. The reviewed articles present a consistent perspective that successful counseling outcomes hugely rely on the counselors’ therapeutic techniques as targeting talks that deal with life problems, especially in group therapies. In addition, it is agreed that substance abuse is a key social problem and counselors must step up to counter the possibilities of the prevalence of mental disorders. Concerning this aspect, this paper will show that while there is a widespread recognition that cost factors play an important role in drug and alcohol treatment failures, personal characteristics contribute highly to drug and alcohol treatment failures.

The underlying assumptions in the text

The campaign against substance abuse is based on various assumptions, which in most cases are unquestionable regarding substances, abuse, intervention, and treatment. This section seeks to identify the epistemological aspect of the articles coupled with evaluating the key assumptions presented in the texts. Some of the common assumptions regarding the field of substance abuse counseling claim that people who join this field in most cases have first-hand experience in drug abuse and have recovered or are recovering from its effects. Others have no direct experience of substance use disorders, but they have the passion to impact, empower lives, and join this field to quench this desire. In this perspective, this paper will be in a position to assess alternatives and the possible changes that might emerge to enhance treatment. The study by Volkow (2014) shares the assumption that substances in one way or the other affect everyone whether they use substances or not. This assumption is critical as it discourages or prohibits substance use. It implies that society should implement regulations that diminish people’s exposure to substances and probably limit the possibility of affecting others who do not have the intent to use drugs and alcohol. While exposure to certain substances contributes to abuse, the individuals’ characteristics play a critical part when determining if individuals become addicts. Therefore, addressing the issue of substance abuse becomes a collective issue where everyone must show support for the work of counselors.

Deeds (2015) assumes that the most suitable form of treatment entails meeting with a professional counselor to evaluate the addiction treatment approaches that best fit a certain circumstance. The author goes further to show that a patient has to meet admission criteria for him/her to be incorporated into a particular program. Even though various substance abusers stop on their own with no professional assistance, it has been identified that very few cases of addicts are in a position to self-medicate. Therefore, counseling remains the most suitable process to intervene and treat substance use disorders successfully. The third assumption by Bohlin (2014) suggests that the underlying need for professional counseling and treatment is that drugs and alcohol are harmful and they need to be stopped. This assumption does not take into account the levels of use; on the contrary, it insists that no matter the contents, drugs pose various negative implications to the abusers and other people around them. However, with this assumption, it becomes inevitable to ensure an effective model of treatment. Despite having various approaches for treatment, patients suffering from substance use disorders report various difficulties when trying to go through the treatment process successfully. Such problems may include the lack of funds to cater to the treatment process and personal characteristics.

Group therapy approach

Group counseling entails interacting with other addicts with the guide of a counselor (Deeds, 2015). The counselor has to facilitate connections and create an understanding of different issues across the group members. Participating in group treatment has been linked to desirable outcomes for drug and alcohol users. In a bid o attain these benefits, substance abusers must commit themselves to treatment programs. However, not everyone is appropriate to every kind of group since every client has distinct needs, expectations, and motivation to participate. Based on this aspect, it is worth noting that while the cost of treatment is essential when determining the quality and chances of a successful treatment process, personal factors such as elements of their lifestyles or treatment criterion contribute much to treatment failures.

The majority of clients joining recovery and healing programs lack confidence in these programs and if counselors fail to build this confidence within the clients, they end have to fail in the process. After failing treatment, clients commonly argue that such programs are not beneficial. In a bid to create this confidence and trust, clients should be provided with their medical information as well as clinical knowledge regarding the recovery process. Failure to communicate adequately and share information makes the client lose confidence in the entire process and this aspect increases the possibility of treatment failures. When treatment is transparent and goals are explicitly stated at the onset of the treatment process, it becomes easy even for the client to stay focused and manage a successful recovery and healing. Strategies for patient handling also determine if the client will be in a position to complete the treatment process. The program should identify the best strategies that suit particular clients by ensuring a consultative approach to include patient perspectives in the process.

Validity of the assumptions

Other researchers’ sentiments and opinions show consistency with the aforementioned assumptions. This aspect reaffirms the reliability of this information to the promotion of recovery and healing of substance use-related disorders. For instance, the assumption that drugs are extremely hazardous serves as a warning to ward off abusers from using much of these drugs or even stopping. Largely, this assumption is in line with the objectives of the field of substance use counseling in the sense that it helps in the campaign against drug use. The best way is to discourage their use because they hold the irresistible danger of addiction. The assumption that drugs and alcohol use affects everyone directly or indirectly is highly agreeable among researchers. Drug abuse is associated with, crime, dependency, and poor health. When drug abusers get involved in crimes, it affects the entire population regardless of whether one is a substance abuser or not. Since the condition affects everyone in a family setup, fighting against drug abuse becomes easy since everyone plays a role in this campaign.

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Weaknesses and counterarguments of the sources

The first article by Bohlin (2014) presents various approaches to substance abuse treatment of which some are highly questionable for their efficacy. Even though the models talked about are relatively affordable to many people, it has been shown that most people come out of the treatment and immediately resume substance use. For instance, Bohlin (2014) talks about Residential Treatment Centers, which only help the addicts to abstain from drugs while in the recovery facility, but they fail to show consistency once the client completes the process. The author fails to conduct deep research and provides reasons why people relapse soon after they are discharged. The common counterargument about this author’s assumption that drugs are harmful is that it is overemphasized and he fails to distinguish among regular users, heavy users, problem users, and experimenters. Therefore, by criminalizing all users, there is the possibility of losing the social support that is essential to facilitate recovery.

In her article, Deeds (2015) provides several treatment programs, but she fails to state the procedures that suit particular conditions. By failing to do this, the article does not help the reader to identify the type of treatment to approach. The author indicates that there are many options for addiction treatment and she shows that it is often confusing to decide the suitable treatment to adopt; however, the reader expects clarity from this confusion of which Deeds (2015) fails to offer. One of the counterarguments suggests that the patient should be informed and left to choose the self-help support s/he desires rather than the evidence-based treatments that in most cases fail to consider the patients’ ethical expectations. Unlike the majority of the articles about substance abuse counseling, which are specific and easy to understand, the third article, Lion Rock Recovery (2014), is broad, and thus it poses the danger of losing track and becoming ambiguous. The article presents a huge list of programs that are offered, but it fails to narrow down the programs that are appropriate for different conditions for the reader to understand easily. The article focuses on online counseling services, which in most cases offer little privacy, hence not widely favored. This aspect implies that despite issuing voluminous information, the article may not have the expected impact on the targeted population.

Transformations Drug and Alcohol Treatment Center (2015) holistically provides addiction treatment services and emphasizes their affordability as the key factor in the completion of the treatment procedure. This aspect does not necessarily mean that other influential factors are underrated, but it is discouraging to overlook personal factors such as a person’s ability to cope. This article focuses only on the services offered within the premises of the Transformations Drug and Alcohol Treatment Center. It fails to provide clear guidance to the reader on various options in a bid to compare and choose. In addition, suggesting that the Center offers spiritual healing, which is an element ignored by other treatment centers, is unnecessary since most addicts focus only on healing the mind and the body. In the last article, Volkow (2014) implies that the problem of drug and alcohol use is a problem that affects all and it needs collective action. Critiques counter this claim by suggesting that it worsens the situation since abusers do not feel obligated to stop the habit. Showing support will help addicts to recover, but the problem comes in when they misinterpret the situation and fail to focus on their role in recovery.

The rationale for selecting these articles

While most articles in the field of substance abuse counseling focus majorly on the counselors’ skills towards treatment, these articles consider the clients’ ability to cope, generate motivation, and avoid lapses during recovery. For instance, Deeds (2015) makes a compelling claim that addiction is a disease and offers many options on how to approach this condition and heal and quit their addiction successfully. According to Deeds (2015), there is a need for more research on choices of treatment as well as a study on treatment and healing. Other studies have often contradicted this claim by arguing that conceptualizing drug addiction as a disease is misleading because most addicts are in a position to get out of their conditions on their own unlike the case with most diseases where a patient is compelled to seek medical advice to recover. All these five articles show consistency and support to this claim by stating that addiction may not only be a disease to the individual abuser, but also the family. In addition, these articles are easy to read and understand and this aspect is rare in most articles tackling substance abuse.

These articles offer a wide array of useful treatment procedures and even indicate where these services can be found. In addition, the articles show a consistency of information, which implies that they are credible sources, hence adaptable in the war against drug and alcohol abuse. These articles take into consideration that the cost of treatment matters, but this aspect is not considered as a major barrier to treatment; on the contrary, it emphasizes personal factors such as confidence. For instance, group counseling is presented as one of the best models for addicts to adopt and recover successfully, yet it is affordable. This assertion holds because addicts are more likely to learn much from their peers since they believe that their fellow addicts understand their issues better as compared to the counselors. This model is also highly compatible with other models such as recovery meetings and individual therapy. During individual therapies, one can learn from the counselors about their key problems, and healing is facilitated when this information is shared in a group setting.


Since substance abuse has been viewed as a significant social concern for everyone and particularly counselors, familiarity with issues regarding this field is essential for everyone. This paper has utilized articles that offer essential details that address a wide range of issues about treatment and recovery among addicts. It has offered an overview of common assumptions and approaches to treatment and knowledge about its current prevalence. Although it is not sufficient to rely on the underlying assumptions and treatment models provided by these articles, they remain useful as research seeks better alternatives to understanding drug use, abuse, and treatment. The authors have also provided a lot of hope to the drug addicts by indicating that their problem is treatable and even when relapse to drug use occurs, it does not imply that treatment has failed. However, these articles have invited critique to establish their weak ends in a bid to ensure that future researchers close all gaps that might hinder successful recovery and healing.

This paper has acknowledged that addiction is a lifelong problem, which in most cases may need lifelong therapy to experience the best outcomes. Therefore, addicts, who find barriers to healing, should never give up; on the contrary, they should try an elaborate treatment that corresponds with the admission criteria for that program. These recommendations indicate that this research is timely because it sheds light on addicts, who are about to despair. In addition, the texts complement each other by building overwhelming evidence in support of the contention that personal barriers to treatment are worth more consideration as compared to financial barriers that may lead to treatment failure. Consequently, since these assumptions imply that everyone is vulnerable to the effects of substance use, research funding and recovery programs should not target only the addicts, but also the rest of the society as a whole. By doing so, worries about having insurance programs to cater for advanced treatment programs or even counselors feeling to be failing when addicts fail treatment will be minimized.

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Bohlin, E. (2014). Drug treatment centers, counseling and alcoholics anonymous: The Pros and cons. Web.

Deeds, A. (2015). The pros and cons of different addiction treatment options. Addiction Treatment Options-Pros and Cons. Web.

Lion Rock Recovery: Programs. (2014). Web.

Transformations Drug and Alcohol Treatment Center: Recovery takes strength, courage, support and guidance. (2015). Web.

Volkow, N. D. (2014). National institute on drug abuse the science of drug abuse and Addiction. Web.