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Is there any need to talk to a counselor after leaving drug and alcohol treatment? This is a question that many now-recovering addicts and alcoholics ask when life inevitably comes up. While there are many who genuinely mean well, sometimes personal, unqualified biases can keep people from seeking out the help they need for their best chance at long-term recovery.

Some take the position that a sponsor is someone they go to for life’s living problems. However, this is really only partially true. A sponsor is undoubtedly a vital part of an addict or alcoholic’s recovery, but the purpose of a sponsor is to go through the Steps; it is not to be an amateur therapist. Sure, a sponsor can help someone with how a certain instance relates to the Steps. However, the reality is that very few of these people will have the training or skills necessary to guide someone through every instance in a healthy and meaningful way as it relates to the Steps.

Talk to a counselor with the proper training in drug and alcohol treatment.

When an addict or alcoholic decides to talk to an intervention counselor, he or she is talking to someone who has gone through the proper training channels, knows the ethics and responsibilities relating to counseling someone, and also has clinical knowledge outside the scope of the Steps.

Although a sponsor may have come to live a successful life after giving up the drink or the drugs, the old adage sometimes remains that “some are sicker than others”. “Better” does not always mean “healthy”—it could simply mean “less dysfunctional.” Having helped an addict or alcoholic work through addiction is fantastic, but it does not mean that the person has all the answers to all problems.

That said, in every addiction treatment facility out there, not every counselor is going to be an addict or alcoholic. When this is the case, it is essential for an alcoholic or addict in recovery has someone to take him or her through the Steps who has been there before. Having a working knowledge of the Steps through firsthand experience is still the most effective means of achieving long-term sobriety. When working with an addict or alcoholic, sometimes all the clinical and theoretical “best ways” to treat him or her fail.

Really, though, there is no need to only have one or the other when you can have both. At the end of the day, each of these people in an alcoholic/addict’s life is a guide providing a specific toolset. As with any tool, there are times where one specific tool is better suited to a certain task. This is one of those rare times when we can have the best of both worlds, and have that actually be a healthy option.

Having the option to talk to a drug and alcohol treatment recovery counselor for daily living guidance and a sponsor for long-term recovery has proven to be effective for many seeking recovery from addiction. Do not let expectations or popular perception tell you something is not working if it clearly is. If you need to talk to a drug and alcohol treatment counselor, or a sponsor, do it—whether you suffer from addiction or not.

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