A substance abuse counselor can help you to overcome addiction or alcoholism, but only if you use them in the right way. Basically there are two ways you might be using a counselor: one way is as an avoidance technique, and the other way is as a legitimate supplemental strategy. Let’s take a look at what the difference is.
I know that these two separate ideas exist because I have used them both at different times in my recovery journey. Before I was serious about getting clean and sober, and was still using drugs and alcohol, I opted to see a substance abuse counselor in order to keep everyone happy. I had no real intention of changing at the time, and only wanted to keep using drugs. But the people in my life who were worried about me wanted me to make some sort of effort at recovery, and so I went to see a counselor every once in a while to appease them. This did little good to anyone and was generally just a waste of time. The reason it was ineffective was because I had no intention of changing.
Later on I made a decision to change my life and I went to rehab. After being in rehab for a few weeks I decided to live in a long term treatment center, where I had regular sessions with a drug abuse counselor. This was much more effective, because now I was serious about recovery and I was actually using the counselor to help me work through problems and make important decisions. But perhaps even more importantly was that now I was taking massive action in early recovery and using all sorts of different resources in order to stay clean and sober: I was attending treatment, I was living in long term rehab, I was attending meetings, I was going to group therapy, and so on. Seeing the counselor was only a small part of my overall strategy.
So that is a crucial difference as well: if your only strategy for recovery is to see a counselor once a week, then that is not going to keep you clean and sober. It takes a lot more effort and a lot more action than that. Don’t think that you can just go see a substance abuse therapist every once in a while and somehow turn your whole life around with just that as your only recovery strategy. It takes a lot more to stay clean.