The decision to seek treatment for addiction is deeply personal and takes tremendous bravery. It requires intense self-reflection, a brutal level of honesty, and carries with it the potential for long-term stigma, all of which can be strong deterrents. Resource limitations, geographic restrictions, and family obligations also have a huge impact on treatment decisions. Understanding what treatment options are available and what to expect from addiction therapy can help guide those with substance abuse problems and their families to a program that works best for them.
When a loved one is unable to recognize their substance abuse problem or has trouble committing to a treatment program, an intervention can provide an additional line of defense for family, friends, and even co-workers to help. While it is still ultimately the individual’s choice to agree to treatment, intervention services can ensure they and their family are prepared.
When a loved one refuses treatment, it is likely that an involuntary intervention of some sort will eventually occur. This type of intervention may include:
- Chronic health issues
- Job loss
Once one of these catastrophic events occur, it can be beyond the abilities of family and friends to help. The best case scenario is mandatory treatment, but even with treatment, recovering from these circumstances can prove impossible in some cases.
Interventions should be professionally led to ensure the person needing treatment doesn’t feel alienated and the situation is not made worse. A trained interventionist can also help family members find programs to address any emotional trauma they have experienced from the addiction, help with financial arrangements, and assist with identifying aftercare needs to help produce long-term positive results from the selected treatment program. Educating everyone affected by the consequences of the addiction can result in the best outcome for an intervention, and help ensure the right treatment program is selected.
What is Addiction Therapy?
Addiction therapy is a catch-all term used to describe a variety of specific methods used to treat addiction. Some methods work better on certain types of addiction than others. Therapy choices can also be made to address the psychological or behavioral issues that led to the addiction in the first place. Choosing the right type of therapy is critical for a successful recovery, and should be done with the guidance of a professional who specializes in addiction recovery. Addiction therapy can help those who participate make the necessary lifestyle changes that are required in order to stay sober in the long term.
Types of Addiction Therapy
There are numerous types of addiction therapy that can be used to aid in treatment and recovery. Selection should be based on the specific needs of the individual as well as the drug or drugs being abused. Understanding the benefits of each type of therapy and for which types of dependence they are most effective can be challenging. Some general information can be found here, but treatment selections should be made through consultation with an addiction specialist.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
This type of therapy, also known as CBT, is perhaps the most commonly-used addiction therapy. Originally developed to treat alcoholism, this method focuses on awareness of personal behaviors that play a role in the addiction. It has since been adapted as a treatment for other substance abuse issues and a host of other mental health disorders including grief, trauma, chronic pain, and depression, among others. Cognitive behavioral therapy can be done individually or in a group, but sessions should be conducted using a licensed professional.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)
DBT was originally developed to treat psychosocial disorders such as borderline personality disorder (BPD). This type of therapy is considered a modified form of cognitive behavioral therapy, and focuses specifically on changing behaviors related to self-harm. The focus of DBT treatment includes teaching:
- Distress tolerance
- Interpersonal effectiveness
- Emotion regulation
It is believe that many afflicted with disorders that involve self-harm are also more susceptible to substance abuse.
The Matrix Model
This type of therapeutic approach pulls from other methods, and is used primarily for the treatment of stimulants such as cocaine and methamphetamines. The Matrix Model focuses on reinforcing positive behaviors through education and coaching. This therapy is particularly effective for drug and alcohol abuse and reducing risky sexual behaviors.
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)
EMDR is designed to help individuals process traumatic memories and heal emotionally. It is used frequently to treat post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other psychological disorders associated with emotional trauma, and subsequently, is useful in treating substance abuse that can be attributed to those conditions.
Motivational Enhancement Therapy (MET)
Also called Motivational Interviewing (MI), MET seeks to resolve ambivalence in the substance abuser and motivate them to build a plan for change. This therapy is most effective on nicotine, alcohol, and marijuana addictions, as well as on young users of other substances with lower levels of dependency.
Family Behavior Therapy
This type of therapy focuses on co-occurring problems, and involves two or more people in each session. It can address behavioral problems associated with an individual’s substance abuse or that of a loved one, among other issues. Family behavior therapy works to change the behavior of two or more people in the relationship, which helps eliminate triggers that may cause behavioral relapse in any or all parties.
12-Step Facilitation Therapy
This type of therapy is the only method that can be conducted without the assistance of a mental health professional. These programs are based on the concepts of:
- Acceptance: acknowledging the existence of a substance abuse problem
- Surrender: seeking the comfort and guidance of a higher power (such as God)
- Active involvement: attending regular meetings for fellowship
Twelve-Step Facilitation Therapy was originally created to treat alcohol abuse, but is also effective for opioids and stimulants, though co-therapies may be required.
This type of therapeutic approach is multifaceted in that it helps participants process emotions and relieve stress, while also giving them an alternative way to spend their time. Some of the benefits of art therapy include:
- Decreasing denial
- Reducing opposition to treatment
- Outlet for communication
- Reduced shame
- Increased motivation
Art therapy can be used for a range of substance abuse problems, but is thought to be particularly effective for women and adolescents.
Similar to art therapy, music therapy helps by providing participants with an alternative means to communicate complex emotions that may be difficult to articulate through other means. While both listening and creating music provide unique benefits, drumming is considered particularly beneficial for those who experience relapse.
Also known as recreational therapy, this type of treatment uses recreational activities and outdoor adventures to provide physical, cognitive, emotional, and social support to participants. Treatment focuses on activities that can take place in almost any location, but that require a physical component. Addiction and mental health are just two of the areas for which this type of therapy can be used, providing positive benefits to individuals of all ages.
Many addiction therapies can be used collaboratively to produce effective long-term outcomes for those seeking treatment and recovery. It is important that those seeking treatment understand the options available, but also seek guidance from a licensed addiction specialist. Depending on the severity of the substance abuse, different approaches may be required at different points in the recovery process. No one treatment approach is effective for every substance or every individual.