The Historical Essence of Addiction Counseling William L. White, M.A. What distinguishes the profession of addiction counseling from the array of helping roles that have preceded and have followed it? What would be lost if the specialized knowledge and functions performed by the addiction counselor disappeared? This essay will explore these questions by attempting to define the historical essence of addiction counseling. The distinctiveness of this role lies in the unique way alcohol and other drug (AOD) problems and their solutions have been defined within the addictions field. It also lies in nuanced views of the addiction counselor's relationship to self and his or her relationship to the addicted client/family, other service professionals and the community. Theoretical Foundation There are four defining premises of addiction counseling that historically separate the addiction counselor from other helping roles. These premises are that: 1) severe and persistent alcohol and other drug problems constitute a primary disorder rather than a superficial symptom of underlying problems 2) the multiple life problems experienced by AOD-impacted individuals can be resolved only within the framework of recovery initiation and maintenance 3) many individuals with high problem complexity (biological vulnerability, high severity, co-morbidity) and low ?recovery capital? (internal assets, family and social support) are unable to achieve stable recovery without professional assistance, and 4) professional assistance is best provided by individuals with special knowledge and expertise in facilitating the physical, psychological, socio-cultural and often spiritual journey from addiction to recovery. If AOD problems could be solved by physically unraveling the person-drug relationship, only physicians and nurses trained in the mechanics of detoxification would be needed to address these problems. If AOD problems were simply a symptom of untreated psychiatric illness, more psychiatrists, not addiction counselors would be needed. If these problems were only a reflection of grief, trauma, family disturbance, economic distress, or cultural oppression, we would need psychologists, social workers, vocational counselors, and social activists rather than addiction counselors. Historically, other professions conveyed to the addict that other problems were the source of addiction and their resolution was the pathway to recovery. Addiction counseling was built on the failure of this premise. The addiction counselor offered a distinctly different view: ?All that you have been and will be flows from the problem of addiction and how you respond or fail to respond to it.'? Addiction counseling as a profession rests on the proposition that AOD problems reach a point of self-contained independence from their initiating roots and that direct knowledge of addiction, its specialized treatment and the processes of long-term recovery proWhite, William L. is the author of 'Counselor Magazines Reference Guide for Addiction Professionals ', published 2007 under ISBN 9780757306488 and ISBN 0757306489.