Licensed Mental Health Counselors (LMHC) and Licensed Clinical Social Workers (LCSW) are both qualified to evaluate, diagnose, and treat mental health and substance use disorders. However, neither of these professionals can prescribe medications, including pain relievers, anxiolytics, stimulants, and sedatives. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved several drugs to treat alcohol and opioid use disorders. These medications, known as Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT), help to relieve withdrawal symptoms and psychological cravings that cause chemical imbalances in the body.
MAT does not simply replace one drug with another; it is an evidence-based treatment option. Substance abuse counselors are not able to prescribe medication or provide medical or psychological therapy. Instead, they act as advocates and mentors for their clients. They become a key figure in the addict's life, helping them to recognize the emotional foundations of their dependency and providing assistance with more mundane tasks such as finding or keeping a job. Substance abuse counselors work to help their clients become self-reliant. Part 4 of the Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) is dedicated to addiction treatment professionals and peer recovery support specialists who work with people taking FDA-approved medications for opioid use disorder (OUD).
These providers do not prescribe or administer OUD medications, but they do interact with healthcare professionals who do. They also help people taking OUD medications access supportive services such as counseling. Counseling is an essential part of substance use disorder treatment for many people. Cognitive-behavioral therapy, family counseling, and other types of therapy can help individuals stay clean. Psychotherapy can also treat other mental health conditions that are often associated with substance abuse.
Counseling plays an important role in treating prescription drug abuse. The National Institute on Drug Abuse states that prescription drug abuse therapy can teach individuals strategies to control cravings and recognize destructive thought processes, emotions, and situations in order to prevent relapse. These strategies can help improve a person's ability to care for themselves, work, and maintain relationships. There are several types of therapy available to assist in recovery. Mental health professionals may prescribe medications to treat disorders. Each of these professionals has gone through additional years of education and training which makes them a valuable part of a person's treatment team.
Group therapy is generally preferred over individual therapy when it comes to counseling for drug abuse. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) classifies drugs, substances, and certain chemicals used to manufacture them into five distinct categories or programs based on the acceptable medical use of a drug and the potential for misuse of a drug.