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Addiction Therapy

Substance use disorders and alcohol use disorders are serious mental health conditions that can cause numerous issues. These conditions are both chronic and progressive, meaning that these illnesses will be recurring and will become worse with time.

Currently, there is no cure available for substance or alcohol use disorders. Individuals with these diagnoses will continue to battle them throughout their lives. However, all hope is not lost. If you or a loved one is currently struggling with a substance or alcohol use disorder, there are ways in which medical and mental health professionals can effectively treat the disease.

Addiction therapy is a blanket term used for various different therapeutic approaches designed to help individuals with substance abuse disorders combat their condition in an effective manner. By undertaking various addiction therapy modalities, patients can discover the underlying causes fueling their addiction and learn new coping mechanisms and positive behavioral modifications to prevent the manifestation of symptoms.

It’s important to understand what addiction is and how addiction therapy works. By taking on the task of entering recovery, you are committing to intensive therapeutic work that must continue to keep your substance use disorder at a manageable level. Read more to learn all about addiction, addiction therapy, and the different yet equally effective approaches to addiction treatment to pick the right addiction treatment facility for you!

What Is Addiction?

Addiction, or a substance use disorder (SUD)/ alcohol use disorder (AUD), is a disease as recognized by mental health and medical professionals around the world. As previously stated, the mental health condition is both chronic and progressive. 

It is classified as a mental health disorder but manifests in both physical and emotional ways. The physical aspect of a substance use disorder is the actual act of using and abusing illicit and prescription substances. This refers to the obsessive and compulsive behaviors. The emotional or mental aspect of the disease refers to the feelings and underlying driving forces that cause the individual to act out in a destructive manner.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-V) distinguishes addiction as a diagnosable condition. In order to receive an official diagnosis from either a medical or mental health professional, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual has designated certain criteria that you must meet. The criteria include certain behaviors and feelings that can manifest in yourself or others that causes physical, emotional, and financial strife. 

The criteria for a substance or alcohol use disorder diagnosis is as follows:

  • Taking the drug in larger amounts and for longer than intended
  • Wanting to cut down or quit but finding yourself unable to do so
  • Spending copious amounts of time attempting to obtain the substance
  • Experiencing cravings for the drug
  • Finding yourself incapable of performing obligations at work, school, or home due to drug use
  • Continuing to use the substance despite consistent social or interpersonal issues caused by or exacerbated by drug use
  • Cessation of important social, occupational, or recreational activities due to drug use
  • The habitual use of the substance in physically dangerous situations
  • Still using the drug after recognizing continual physical and psychological difficulties stemming from drug use
  • Building a physical tolerance to the drug
  • Undergoing withdrawal symptoms when drug use is stopped

Substance and alcohol use disorders, like many other mental health disorders, are not cookie-cutter conditions. They are variable and individual, meaning that the severity and manifestation of symptoms can vary on a case-by-case basis. Due to the discrepancy in symptoms, the DSM-V has set different levels of severity when defining your diagnosis.

In the case of a mild substance use disorder diagnosis, you must meet two to three of the listed criteria. For moderate substance use disorder diagnoses, four to five of the above criteria must be present. If you should have a severe substance use disorder, six to seven (or more) of the criteria must be met.

Upon receiving your diagnosis, you may be left with questions or concerns surrounding your condition. You may rest assured that while it may be disheartening to know that there is no cure available for substance or alcohol use disorders, in the advent of modern psychiatric practice, many successful addiction treatment methods have been developed.

Utilizing addiction therapy will not only arrest your substance or alcohol use disorder, but it may help you in other aspects of your life as well. Many individuals who struggle with SUD or AUD also find themselves battling other mental health disorder. Having these comorbid or co-occurring disorders is known as a dual diagnosis, and these addiction therapy modalities are helpful in treating these conditions as well.

Finding relief from your symptoms is both entirely possible and very likely should you follow a proper addiction therapy regimen. Employing these effective addiction therapy techniques can provide you with a better understanding of your condition and yourself. If you seek to both overcome your addiction and improve your quality of life, considering engaging in substance abuse therapy may be the proper next step for you.

ow Addiction Therapy Works

Addiction treatment also referred to as rehabilitation or drug rehab/alcohol rehab, is the process by which clinical and medical professionals actively address a substance or alcohol use disorder. Considering that substance abuse can present itself differently in each patient, this includes using different techniques and therapeutic approaches in order to meet each client’s individual needs.

Each addiction treatment program operates differently. Certain programs may require patients to live onsite at the facility. These are known as inpatient or residential treatment programs and can be short-term or long-term drug rehab programs. Other programs may have patients stay living at home or outside sober living facilities and commute to their therapy sessions. These are known as outpatient programs or intensive outpatient programs. 

Certain addiction treatment programs may have different approaches to the treatment itself. They may be gender specific, featuring only men’s drug rehab treatment or women’s drug rehab treatment. There are also religious programs such as Christian rehab. 12-step programs are another favored approach by certain addiction professionals.

Regardless of the individual approach, the overall goal of addiction therapy is to isolate the negative, destructive behaviors associated with substance and alcohol abuse and to replace these old habits with new, positive ones instead. Addiction is a disease of the body, mind, and spirit, so treating all aspects of addiction is crucial in order to stave off the return to using drugs and alcohol, also known as relapse. 

By getting to the core issues behind your substance use disorder, you can work out the emotional and mental aspects of the disease. Once you work through these emotional issues, the next part of addiction therapy is to change the overall pattern of behavior. Finally, by employing different relapse prevention techniques as well, you can solidify your place in sobriety.

Through diligent work in substance abuse therapy, you can bring your substance use disorder to a manageable level. But, it’s important to remember that addiction therapy is an ongoing process; recovery will require long-term consistent work in order to stay on track in your sobriety.

Types of Addiction Therapy

Despite the overall goal of all addiction therapy techniques being the same, the similarities end there. There are numerous methods and approaches used by medical and clinical professionals to achieve the final result of sobriety in patients.

Every addiction treatment program features a unique and individual curriculum filled with different addiction therapy methods. Some facilities may favor a more traditional approach to addiction treatment, while others may lean more towards a holistic substance abuse therapy approach.

Learning about the various different addiction therapy techniques available is important when seeking the right addiction treatment program for you. Since substance use disorders are unique to each individual, what may work for one addict may not for another. Finding which addiction therapy approach works best for you is crucial to your success. Read on to learn about some of the more common addiction therapy techniques you may encounter and decide which treatment may be best suited to meet your needs!

Humanistic Therapy

Humanistic therapy aims to help patients overcome their addictions by helping them reach and comprehend their feelings. This is intended to assist the individual in finding a higher purpose in his or her life and attain self-actualization. Self-actualization means realizing one’s full potential. 

By shifting the focus of the therapy sessions onto the intense healing abilities of creativity, free will, and human potential, a new level of growth can be reached by the patient. You will begin to view yourself as a whole purpose by fostering self-exploration. Through developing a more positive sense of self, you can overcome your substance or alcohol use disorder.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy is a form of addiction therapy also known as EMDR. This addiction therapy was created to help people combat distress that is associated with traumatic past experiences and memories.

EMDR  uses biological methods experienced in Rapid Eye Movement also known as REM sleep. During the addiction therapy session, the therapist will have the individual think of a specific negative memory or experience. While the client hones in on the memory, the therapist will then maneuver his or her hand back and forth across the patient’s line of vision.

The patient follows the therapist’s movements and internal associations will start to be able to process the memory and negative feelings associated with it. The overall connotation of the experience is changed in an emotional capacity and the client will be able to view the memory in a more positive way.

Trauma Therapy

Perhaps one of the most important substance abuse therapy techniques, trauma therapy is not a specific type of therapy, instead, it’s a category of therapy methods designed to treat traumatic experiences and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). This is an important addiction therapy due to PTSD and traumatic memories being a common reason for substance and alcohol use disorders.

PTSD itself is a mental health condition that will manifest following a traumatic experience. It can be any number of experiences. As long as the individual views it as traumatic and negative, it can cause PTSD to ensue. Due to the negative feelings, thoughts, and dreams related to the traumatic event, the patient may experience changes in the way they think and behave- sometimes in an extreme way.

Trauma therapy will help patients work through their PTSD and process whatever the initial traumatic event was. Through consistent therapeutic support, the patient may begin to heal from the event and be able to undergo personal growth in their lives.

Behavioral Therapy

Behavioral therapy is similar to trauma therapy in the sense that rather than one specific form of therapy, it encompasses multiple different types of therapy. The goal of behavioral therapy is to change learned behaviors and behavioral patterns demonstrated in the patient deemed negative or destructive. Substance and alcohol use disorders are primarily behaviorally based, so behavioral therapy is a key facet of addiction treatment. 

Cognitive psychology is often used in behavioral therapy. Cognitive psychology deals with the thought processes of the patient, so by combining to two, you can effectively alter both thought and behavior patterns. Behavioral therapy is often used to assist clients to stop participating in negative behaviors (in this case using drugs and/or alcohol) and to instead replace these actions with positive behaviors (staying abstinent from substances).

Motivational Therapy

Motivational therapy is useful in addiction treatment since it can be used to encourage patients to stop using drugs and alcohol. It simultaneously involves using humanistic treatment and cognitive-behavioral therapy

Through diligent motivational therapy sessions, therapists can help their patients create a negative connotation associated with using and abusing substances. Upon the implementation of this correlation, the patient will want to change their behavioral patterns in the future.

The primary focus of motivational therapy is placed on the individual’s needs and problems. Sessions are kept solution oriented, meaning that the therapist and client work together to come up with ways to improve in the future. Clients will be able to see how their behaviors are destructive and intuitively know how to avoid making the same mistakes again. 

Family Therapy

In addiction treatment, loved ones, especially family members, can help you be successful in recovery. Family issues are another common reason behind substance abuse, so working out issues present in the family dynamic through family therapy can remove much of the stress associated with the “why” behind addiction. 

Family therapy sessions will often include the client and family members. In a safe, non-judgemental, and supportive environment led by the therapist, family members and patients can openly talk about conflicts and other underlying problems in a healthy fashion. In family therapy, patients and loved ones will learn important communication skills, how to properly set healthy boundaries, and learn more about the disease of addiction so as to better understand each other.

Improving the relationships between family members and the client can not only help settle past transgressions perpetrated by both sides but also can provide the recovering addict with more support in their quest for recovery. The more love and support an addict in recovery has, the higher their chances of success in long-term recovery.

Expressive Therapy

By using the creative process, expressive therapy hopes to heal addiction through the creative arts. Activities such as drawing, composing music, and writing are important tools used in expressive therapy to help patients find an outlet for their stress and healing from their past.

Expressive therapy is less about the final product and more about the actual process of creating something. During the creative process, the patient accesses a deeply emotional place. Throughout the art project, the client is able to further explore and comprehend the emotional space, making it easier to process and access any thoughts and feelings they may have. 

Holistic Therapy

The last type of addiction therapy on our list is holistic therapy. The central focus of this addiction therapy type is the crucial relationship between body, mind, and spirit. The goal is to find the balance between these equally important aspects of the individual. By doing so, the patient will accomplish increasing their self-esteem, self-awareness, and in the end, self-acceptance.

Holistic therapy has patients take a look at their place in the world around them and the manner in which they interact with it. Through changing these interactions into positive ones, they will be able to combat their substance abuse issues and begin to implement healthy thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.

Rather than the methods used in other substance abuse therapy techniques like talking about feelings and processing thoughts, patients will be introduced to different techniques intended to assist the patient in finding the internal balance between mind, body, and spirit. Some examples of these alternative techniques are yoga, meditation, and equine (horse) therapy.


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