There are many different types of therapies used in the treatment of drug or alcohol addiction.
Trying to decide which therapy, or combination of therapies, is the best choice for yourself or a loved one is often confusing and difficult. You don’t have to make that decision alone, however. An interventionist or physician can help you understand the various types of therapies and decide which is the best choice in your specific case.
Behavioral therapies are the most effective and commonly used types of therapies in the treatment of substance addiction and substance use disorders. These types of
therapies help people change their self-destructive behaviors.
Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) is used as a way to help the person change the way they feel by modifying their behaviors and attitudes towards their substance addiction. The therapist works with the individual to change thoughts and beliefs that are unproductive and inaccurate. Together they look at the consequences, both the negatives and positives, of the client’s alcohol or drug use. Together they work to identify high-risk situations, develop effective coping strategies and improve the individual’s overall behavior and emotional health.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), is a form of CBT used in the treatment of substance addiction for individuals that are more difficult to treat—such as those who have PTSD, are suicidal, self-mutilate, or have borderline personality disorder. This type of therapy is based on the belief that the various mental health issues are due to a combination of invalidating environments and emotional vulnerability.
The therapist works with the client making sure they receive a balance of acceptance and validation. They encourage the person to move in directions that are more beneficial. Included in DBT therapy are four skill-building modules: mindfulness, distress tolerance, interpersonal effectiveness, and emotional regulation.
There are three settings where addiction treatment can take place: individual therapy, group therapy, and couples or family therapy. It is likely that a residential treatment program will incorporate all three types of therapy.
When a therapist and an individual work together one-on-one, it is individual therapy. Sometimes people feel more comfortable with this type of therapy rather than group therapy. They often feel more comfortable and are able to talk about their personal issues since they are the only one with the therapist.
In group therapy, people that have similar issues, such as substance abuse or addiction, have conversations that are guided by their therapist. The focus of the conversations is about their experiences and members look at those experiences from other perspectives. By sharing with each other, they feel less alone. The therapist also leads group dynamics and activities to change negative thought processes or behaviors that foster addiction and promote those that help the process of healing.
Couples and family therapy is also called Multidimensional Family Therapy (MDFT). Family members are brought together with the therapist to work on improving their communications, relationships, and cohesiveness. They work on solving family problems and past hurts. In couples counseling, the therapist works with the two people to deal with the issue of the addiction and the problems it has caused. They look at all the ways their relationship was damaged and the trust that was lost. The partners work to reconnect or accept that they must separate.
Additional Types of Therapies
Additional types of therapies used in the treatment of addiction include:
- Art, music, and dance therapies help to work through difficult experiences and feelings, resolve inner conflicts, increase self-esteem, change behavior, and manage anxiety.
- Recreational therapy helps to relearn ways to have fun that are healthy, build relationships, and relieve stress.
- Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy uses a combination of mindfulness techniques like breathing exercises and meditation with cognitive therapy to help the individual focus on their feelings and thoughts as they happen each moment.
- 12-Step facilitation therapy encourages active participation in 12-Step programs for long-term sobriety.
- Adventure and wilderness therapy incorporates nature into the healing process, provides a sense of well-being, calms the mind, reduces stress levels, and eases depression.
- Equine or pet therapy helps reduce stress and anxiety, and build self-confidence.
- Holistic therapies are incorporated into addiction treatment to promote specific goals. These therapies often include yoga, meditation and spirituality, massage, and aromatherapy. Acupuncture, biofeedback, qigong, homeopathy, hypnosis, and herbal therapy are also types of holistic therapy that may be used in addiction treatment.
Getting the Help You Need
Addiction is a disease that is very complex and the therapies used must be the right combination for each individual’s preferences and needs. Understanding the differences in the types of therapies used in the treatment of addiction is taking a big step in the right direction. However, therapy isn’t going to help if your loved one doesn’t accept that there is a problem and refuses to get help.
if you have a loved one that is suffering with a substance addiction and they are not open to seeking treatment, an intervention might be needed. Just as there are different types of therapies, there are different types of intervention models. Speaking to a professional certified interventionist will help untangle the confusion surrounding your loved one and their addiction. They can help your loved one accept that they need therapy and assist you in getting the treatment your loved one needs.