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The Most Effective Therapy Methods for Treating Addiction

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The Most Effective Therapy Methods for Treating Addiction

Written by Genesis Recovery

Recovering from drug or alcohol addiction requires refraining from addictive substances and making positive mental and behavioral changes. But uprooting habits, changing the way you think, and developing new patterns of behavior can feel like an uphill battle, especially if you’re trying to make these kinds of changes on your own. Luckily, most addiction treatment programs include behavioral therapy as part of the recovery process.

Working with a therapist can help you pinpoint destructive thoughts, adopt healthier ways of thinking, and develop life skills needed to stay sober and drug-free. Therapy can also help you take charge of your own sobriety and help you stay motivated when the recovery process gets hard. Here’s an in-depth look at some of the most effective forms of therapy used in addiction recovery programs today.

The Role of Therapy in Addiction Treatment

Counseling may not be the first type of treatment you think about when you want someone to stop abusing drugs or alcohol, but studies continue to show that therapy is an effective way to help people overcome substance abuse. Detox, although a necessary part of sobriety, doesn’t break the psychological and social attachments that addiction causes. Therapy, on the other hand, works to combat the emotional, social, and psychological ties addiction creates.

Therapy can also help:

  • Modify your attitude, behaviors, and thoughts toward drug and alcohol abuse
  • Teach you how to manage stress and triggers so you don’t feel compelled to rely on substances as a way to cope with challenging situations and emotions
  • Restore relationships negatively impacted by addiction
  • Take charge of your own sobriety and encourage you to remain sober when the process feels difficult or overwhelming
  • Prevent relapse

Even though there’s no cure for addiction, the National Institute on Drug Abuse acknowledges that behavioral therapy and counseling is an essential component of addiction recovery.

Effective Behavioral Therapy Techniques For Addiction

man in behavioral therapy treatment

Alongside detoxification and clinical treatment, behavioral therapy is one of the most effective ways to treat addiction. But different forms of therapy promote positive change in different ways. Some types of therapy use tangible rewards to elicit change. Others use cognitive techniques to combat harmful thought patterns and improve behavior. Despite their differences, each method of therapy helps prevent relapse, making them incredibly effective at treating addiction, and maintaining long-term recovery. Different forms of therapy can also have different focuses and end goals. While some types of therapy prioritize emotional regulation, others mindfulness or emphasize overcoming a traumatic past.

Even though there are many types of therapies that can help treat addiction, at Genesis Recovery, we are proud to offer some of the most effective forms of therapy for addiction.

1. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy is based on the core belief that what you think determines how you behave. As such, this type of therapy focuses on helping you identify and change destructive, disturbing, and harmful thought patterns. As you learn to change negative beliefs and feelings into healthy constructive thoughts, you feel less compelled to use addictive substances like drugs and alcohol to cope with life’s difficulties. CBT therapy can help you face negative beliefs about yourself and challenge self-defeating thoughts by relying on coping skills such as:

  • Journaling
  • Brainstorming solutions
  • Writing positive self-statements
  • Restructuring and reframing negative ideas
  • Role-playing to help prepare you for potentially problematic situations

How Does CBT Help Treat Addiction?

According to the CBT approach, challenges like addiction are partly caused by a combination of harmful thinking patterns, negative learned behaviors, and unhealthy ways of coping. Luckily, CBT can help individuals in recovery overcome those detrimental thoughts and behaviors and teach them to reevaluate those habits realistically. By adopting healthier ways of thinking, individuals in recovery can begin to realize that they don’t need addictive substances, which, in turn, helps them change their behavior. CBT therapy also aids the recovery process by helping people with addiction challenges deal with past trauma.

Additionally, CBT effectively helps people in recovery from addiction to:

  • Change how they think about drugs and alcohol
  • Realize their own ability to change their habits
  • Regain a sense of independence
  • Combat negative thoughts
  • Prevent relapse

Why Makes CBT Effective?

  • There are many different types of CBT. Cognitive behavioral therapy includes a number of techniques and approaches that focus on different ways to combat negative feelings, harmful thoughts, and challenging situations that can lead to substance use.
    • Cognitive therapy primarily deals with changing distorted thinking patterns, emotional responses, and behaviors.
    • Multimodal therapy focuses on improving 7 different but interconnected areas of life: actions, feelings, senses, imagination, thinking, socialization, and physical health.
    • Rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT) deals with identifying and correcting irrational beliefs.
  • CBT works quickly. CBT can produce positive change in a short period of time. A full CBT cycle, which is typically 10 to 20 sessions, can yield long-lasting positive change. In fact, one study revealed that 60% of people with a cocaine dependency had clean toxicology tests 52 weeks after completing cognitive behavioral therapy.
  • CBT can help you deal with past traumas. CBT helps dispel false beliefs and ideologies that can feed insecurity and low self-esteem, making it especially effective for people who consume substances as a result of past trauma. Research shows that trauma and other circumstances that negatively affect self-esteem often lead to substance use. Luckily, CBT helps trauma survivors overcome and restructure harmful thoughts and beliefs they hold about themselves.
  • Skills learned in CBT can be used for life outside of drug rehab. The skills learned in CBT can be useful for everyday life outside of rehab. Communicating your worries and fears without shame, managing anger, reframing negative situations, creating positive solutions, and resolving conflict in your mind and with others can help you deal with stress, maintain your mental health, and lessen your risk of relapse.

2. Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)

Dialectical behavioral therapy is a type of cognitive behavioral therapy that teaches people how to live in the moment, cope with stress, regulate emotions, and improve their relationships with others. Dialectical refers to the integration of two opposites. In DBT, therapists help individuals bring about positive changes by teaching them to accept the reality of their situation while continuing to pursue positive change.

How Does DBT Aid Addiction Recovery?

In DBT for addiction recovery, acceptance and change are integrated. DBT teaches recovering addicted individuals techniques that encourage behavioral changes while at the same time teaching them to accept and tolerate uncomfortable feelings and situations. In addition to recovery, this typically incorporates learning to abstain from addictive substances and preventing relapse by knowing how to accept cravings without giving in to them.

3. Motivational Interviewing (MI)

Motivational interviewing is a counseling method that aims to inspire recovering individuals to maintain their sobriety by identifying their core values. This approach is highly effective for individuals who want to stop using addictive substances but continue to use them anyway. Unlike other forms of therapy, MI lets individuals choose their own reasons for change and helps clients achieve those goals.

How Does Motivational Interviewing Assist Addiction Recovery?

MI allows recovering addicts to identify their own reasons for sobriety, which helps them reclaim their life and independence. Instead of being fueled by a desire to get high, individuals in MI are fueled by their goals. This shift in perspective and internal change can help motivate individuals to achieve long-term recovery that lasts long after treatment and therapy end.

Motivational interviewing is also a highly effective way to:

  • Improve retention rates for substance abuse treatment
  • Increase individuals’ odds of maintaining sobriety
  • Increase therapy and treatment participation
  • Reduce the risk of relapse
  • Boost self-esteem and self-worth

4. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)

EMDR is a type of therapy designed to help individuals heal from traumatic events and emotional distress. Unlike talk therapy, EMDR uses bilateral stimulation and eye movements to diminish the emotional overwhelm caused by disturbing situations and traumatic experiences. By “reprogramming” the brain, individuals can better regulate their emotions and change harmful behavior patterns triggered by those feelings.

How Does EMDR Promote Addiction Recovery?

Many recovering addicted individuals in therapy realize that they used addictive substances to cope with traumatic experiences. EMDR helps individuals reprocess distressing memories through positive beliefs such as “I am strong and capable to have lived through such a difficult event.” By learning how to reprocess distressing emotions and circumstances, individuals realize their own autonomy and become less vulnerable to debilitating emotions.

EMDR also effectively:

  • Decreases distress from disturbing and traumatic memories
  • Teaches individuals how to anticipate future triggers
  • Improves self-esteem
  • Reduces stress and anxiety

5. Contingency Management

Contingency management, also called motivational incentives, is a type of therapy that uses rewards and incentives to change behavior. This method of therapy is rooted in the belief that when you’re rewarded for doing something, you’re more likely to repeat that action or behavior.

Contingency management can be especially beneficial for people recovering from alcohol, opioid, marijuana, and stimulant use disorders. Instead of relying on these stimulating addictive substances for a “rewarding high,” people participating in contingency management receive small rewards as an alternative “high” while they develop the capacity to resist drugs and alcohol. Oftentimes, CM participants receive vouchers they can exchange for various goods when they produce drug-free urine samples, alcohol-free breath, or attend a training, class, or job interview.

What Makes Contingency Management Effective?

Contingency management is highly effective because it helps rewire the brain’s reward system. Addictive substances can trick the brain into thinking that reward, stimulation, and pleasure only come from drugs and alcohol. Contingency management challenges that notion by providing material rewards that evoke pleasure and stimulate a healthier, alternative and natural “high.” CM therapy also:

  • Encourages the continuation of treatment. Recovering from addiction can be a difficult, confusing, frustrating, and emotionally draining process. But receiving rewards for the positive changes you’re making encourages you to continue addiction treatment even when you experience challenges.
  • Helps Prevent Relapse. By rewiring your brain to experience natural and healthy forms of pleasure, contingency management lessens your likelihood of relapse. Being reminded of past rewards and anticipating future rewards can also help decrease your chances of relapse.

6. 12-Step Facilitation Therapy

12-step facilitation therapy focuses on treating addiction through 12 structured steps. Each step works together to help you accept the fact that addiction has made your life unmanageable, surrender to the recovery process, and become actively involved in 12-step meetings and a sober community.

What Makes 12-Step Facilitation Therapy Effective?

Structure and peer support help make 12-step facilitation therapy a highly effective tool in the recovery process. 12-step facilitation therapy also helps treat addiction and maintain sobriety by:

  • Encouraging honest reflection and introspection. Participating in 12-step facilitation therapy requires you to accept the chronic nature of addiction. By realizing how damaging and uncontrollable addiction can be, 12-step participants are able to reflect on the many ways addiction has damaged, hurt, and negatively impacted their lives, encouraging them to surrender to the recovery process and their need for treatment.
  • Providing accountability. Accountability is one of the most beneficial advantages of 12-step facilitation. Working with a healthy, sober sponsor can help you stay accountable to the recovery process. Having a sponsor can also help combat loneliness, isolation, and low self-esteem, all of which often contribute to substance use.
  • Creating opportunities for healthy social engagement. In many ways, 12-step facilitation therapy can function like group therapy, providing you opportunities to become socially engaged with a sober community. Spending time with people on similar recovery journeys can help encourage you when you’re feeling down. Being actively involved in a sober community can also provide a non-judgmental environment for you to share the experiences you’re facing on your sobriety journey, making you feel less compelled to relapse when you face difficulties and challenges.

A Holisticly Therapeutic Treatment Experience

Our mission here at Genesis Recovery is to help restore lives that have been harmed by addiction. Our multi-faceted 12-step program is committed to helping you achieve long-term and permanent sobriety by restoring your physical, emotional, and mental health.

We are proud of the many different types of therapy we use to help restore lives negatively impacted by addiction. In addition to the forms of therapy we described above, we offer:

You don’t have to continue to let addiction rule your life. You can overcome addiction, trauma, and mental health issues. We can help you overcome substance abuse challenges and regain your independence. Let us help you get there. Call us today at 619-797-7319 if you or a loved one are ready to begin again.

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