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The Ultimate Guide To Addiction Treatment Therapy

The APA (American Psychological Association) conducted a survey in 2004 where it asked individuals to identify whether they had seen a therapist or mental health counselor within the past year and why, if not, they did not consult these professionals.

In the survey, the Association discovered that over half of the participating household admitted to seeking help for at least one of their members. Although this may seem like it is an impressive number, it is appalling that close to 87% of all people have stated that they kept away from counseling sessions that they needed on account of a lack of funds, or of insurance coverage.

To this end, if addiction and substance use disorders are such complicated issues - given the plethora of causes, effects, and symptoms that tend to cover everything from poor mental health to serious socioeconomic risk factors - this can also be said to be the case with addiction treatment therapy.

In general, therefore, a successful addiction treatment therapeutic strategy should be one that covers all possible conditions and causes that contribute to substance use disorders and the resultant dependence and addiction. As you will discover in this guide, there are many different types of therapy that are offered and which might benefit you when you start undergoing rehabilitation for your condition.

Of course, you can now imagine by how much these statistics have been changing since the 2004 survey. Today, research about the mental health issues that are commonly associated with - or sometimes lead to - addiction has been quite robust within the past decade.

As a direct result, many people are now aware that most mental health concerns do not simply arise from character flaws or laziness. A greater segment of the population also understands that most of these mental health problems have a founding in the chemical composition of the brain.

This could easily mean that the stigma that often surrounds these mental health issues has been on the decline. Additionally, many people who were not able to get health insurance coverage for this issues in the past can easily get some today - all thanks to the Affordable Care Act.

However, with so many people undergoing addiction treatment therapy, you might wonder whether this is the right course of action for you. In case you have been considering therapy, you may also wonder how the sessions work, what they are meant to achieve, and more.

In the guide below, you will get answers to all the questions you might have about addiction treatment therapy so that you can make an informed decision about when and if to get help for the problems you have been facing with alcohol, drugs, and other addictive substances. Read on to find out more:

Understanding Addiction Treatment Therapy

The APA (the American Psychological Association), which is the leading professional organization of registered and certified psychologists within the United States formally defines psychotherapy - a form of therapy that is used in addiction treatment therapy - as the practice in which professionally trained therapists apply a variety of clinical techniques originating from the basic principles of psychology to help people adjust one situation or the other in their lives.

This form of therapy also helps people change how they feel and how they think, ensures that they are able to alter certain habits and behaviours, and empowers them to bring about positive changes in other aspects of their lives.

This formalized definition of addiction treatment therapy is an indication that there are definite - but fine, nonetheless - lines that make a division between therapy and most of the other forms of addiction intervention.

To this end, psychotherapy for addiction can only be delivered by highly trained professional therapists. In the process, they apply relevant principles and interventions based on basic psychological concepts.

Additionally, the APA (as well as most of the other organizations which specialize in treating mental health issues) tends to require that the therapists apply certain techniques as derived from deep rooted psychological principles. These principles have been validated empirically to such an extent that they are useful and meaningful in treating specific issues.

As a direct result, the specific interventions, principles, and techniques used in addiction treatment therapy is founded on empirical research evidence. As such, the use and the effectiveness of the treatments are documented for later use.

That said, the trained therapists are usually people with a license and certificate to practice psychology within their state. These therapists may be counseling psychologists, family and marriage (or couples) counselors, counselors, social workers, and clinical psychologists, among others.

In the same way, you should keep in mind that the formalized definition of psychotherapy and addiction treatment therapy is an indication that there many of the interventions that you might consider to be therapeutic are not necessarily a part of psychotherapy.

For example, you may find that participating in 12 step groups for your substance use disorders turns out to be quite therapeutic for you in the sense that such participation will help you with your goals, as well as empower you to change certain feelings and behaviors.

However, because these 12 step groups are not run and moderated by professionally trained therapists, then it follows that they do not fall under the classic definition of psychotherapy. This is also because the groups do not necessarily apply any empirically-validated treatment techniques.

In the same way, certain types of alternative and complementary therapies - including but not limited to music therapy, art therapy, and recreational therapy - would not necessarily qualify as a formal type of psychotherapy. They would only receive this classification if they were delivered by professionally trained therapists.

However, this is not to say that these other forms of interventions into addiction and substance use disorders (or any other kind of occurring disorder) are not effective - but only that they do not qualify formally as psychotherapy.

Therefore, simply because an intervention might be defined subjectively as providing therapeutic benefits to the recovering addict would not be enough to be formally recognized as a formal type of psychotherapy.

More On Addiction Treatment Therapy

Even so, when you are addicted, you may find that therapy forms a major and crucial part of your addiction treatment program. In fact, when you enroll into an inpatient addiction rehabilitation program, you will find that you will be required to spend a couple of hours on a daily basis attending therapy sessions and spending time with qualified professional therapists.

In outpatient rehabilitation programs, the appointments with the treatment team you will be required to attend may also be dominated primarily by a series of addiction treatment therapies.

That said, these sessions with a therapist are essential primarily because they will allow you to gain a better understanding of your addiction, substance use disorders, dependence on drugs and/or alcohol, and any co-occurring physical and mental health conditions.

In case you have mental illnesses that impact or aggravate your addiction and affect your recovery, you will also get the opportunity to learn more about these illnesses by undergoing addiction treatment therapy.

Counseling sessions are also essential because they may provide you with a new opportunity to learn more about how you are going to cope with the triggers that often lead you back to substance abuse. You will also be taught how to control these triggers so that they no longer have any power over you.

The skills and awareness you are going to build through addiction treatment therapy may prove to be useful when you decide to stay sober and lead a productive life in recovery - even when you start living at home and within the community and your addiction sobriety is challenged.

According to the APA, the signs listed below are an indication that you need therapy:

If you have an ongoing addiction, it might even cause some or all of the signs listed above. These signs can easily be resolved when you get help from a qualified and certified counseling program or by attending addiction treatment therapy.

That said, most of the counseling sessions you will attend will be short and they will not last forever. The New York Times recently published statistics showing that close to 42% of people undergoing therapy for addiction only need to take up 3 to 10 visits. In the same article, the newspaper reported that only 1 out of 9 addicts are required to have over 20 sessions.

Therefore, if you are concerned that attending therapy may require that you block out significant portions of time over the course of your lifetime, you should put this worry to rest.

However, what is clear is that therapy sessions tend to vary depending on the kind of addiction treatment therapy option that your professional will choose to use. Still, since most of these types are structured and follow specific plans that will not change from one week to the next, you can be sure that there is nothing to worry about when you start on therapy.

Once you have attended one or two sessions, you will even begin understanding how the sessions run and this could be a major aid in putting your nervousness and anxiety at ease.

The Importance Of Addiction Therapy

That said, there is more to addiction treatment therapy that merely serving as the natural step to follow after detoxification and during rehabilitation for substance use disorders and co-occurring conditions. According to NIDA (the National Institute on Drug Abuse), treatment for addiction is not effective unless it also comes with some aspects of therapy.

In the same way, you should keep in mind that addiction and dependence on drugs and alcohol involve so much more than the rather obvious behavioral and physical issues and symptoms. In many cases, you will find that addiction is accompanied by a psychological aspect - or even multiple mental issues - that are all at play. A qualified therapist will help you by explaining why you started abusing alcohol and drugs in the first place.

Over and beyond the original detoxification phase, therefore, you will have to start on a journey that will bring you recovery, healing, and sobriety. By addressing all existing thought patterns and perceptions, you will be better placed to start forming and practicing new and positive constructs, as well as other habits to ensure that you are successful in achieving full recovery from your addiction and any other self-destructive habits and behaviors you might have adopted.

Traditional Therapy Types

Most of the forms of therapy that your counselor will choose will be traditional in nature. This means that these addiction treatment therapy types will have been used for many years, studied extensively and thoroughly by different professionals and scholars all over the world, and found to be effective.

Some of the traditional types of addiction treatment therapy that your therapist may use, therefore, for your treatment and rehabilitation include but are not limited to:

1. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Otherwise denoted as CBT, cognitive behavioral therapy is designed to help addicts and substance users to understand the system of behaviors and thoughts that often leads them to abuse addictive substances such as drugs and alcohol.

The therapist, to this end, will break down all the problems and issues that you find overwhelming into smaller parts. By so doing, it will be easier for you to see how these issues are interconnected and how they have been affecting you.

Once the therapist has helped you see and understand all your existing negative patterns, it would then be possible for you to use this knowledge and information to start practicing more productive and healthier ways of acting and thinking. As such, CBT act as a sort of life reset to help you get back to sobriety.

That said, addiction treatment therapy in the CBT way will outline to you how 5 distinct parts form to create a cycle. These parts include:

The situation refers to the specific circumstances that will create negative responses on your part. After that, the cycle of use begins. When you examine the process in terms of actions, physical feelings, emotions, and thoughts, your therapist will be able to help you see why and how this chain reaction tends to work against you over and over again.

Through CBT, your therapist will also teach you how to start anticipating the problems that you are going to face when you try to function in society without using addictive substances to cope.

They will, for instance, teach you how to handle those times when you feel tempted to use drugs or drink alcohol. Instead of telling you to exercise more self-control (which hardly ever works), they will ask you to practice coping skills and strategies in a bit to conquer your cravings when and if they arise. In the process, you will learn that you have the power to say no to any urges that you encounter.

Today, CBT is widely used and endorsed by experts within the medical and the addiction treatment community. In a recent study involving heavy cocaine users, it was found that 60% of the patients who received CBT as part of their rehabilitation program managed to remain drug-free for the full year after they completed their formal treatment.

Apart from the above, cognitive behavioral therapy works well because it will help you listen to the emotions and thoughts that tend to fly through your mind right before you take a hit of alcohol or drugs.

When you start managing to identify these thoughts, you will be in a better position to start changing them until they no longer wield any power over you. By changing these thoughts, you will also be better placed to resist any urge you might feel to use addictive substances.

CBT may also help you deal with any other mental health concerns you have - including but not limited to anxiety and depression. This is because it is effective in teaching recovering patients how to rectify and identify those thoughts that tend to exacerbate their mental illness and other related issues.

Last but not least, researchers have extensively studied this form of addiction treatment therapy and found that it is effective at helping people who have addictions and other co-occurring mental health issues improve their conditions. For instance, in the Cognitive Therapy and Research journal, a recently published study examined 160 studies about how effective CBT truly is and found that this form of therapy works better than most of the other forms of addiction treatment therapy. Such results are some of the indications that cognitive behavioral therapy is always an excellent choice.

2. Dialectical Behavior Therapy

Otherwise referred to as DBT, dialectic behavior therapy revolves around most of the psychosocial aspects of your life (including but not related to the relationship between individual thought and behavior and other social factors) - particularly with regards to how they pertain to your addiction, your substance abuse, and how your using behavior affects the world around and inside you.

In most cases, addicts tend to react harmfully and impulsively to other situations and people. This tendency tends to arise from a variety of risk factors - factors that eventually contribute to the likelihood that you will develop an addiction.

According to Mayo Clinic, the list of suspects that might promote your addiction includes:

This approach to addiction treatment therapy also suggests that addicts tend to have higher levels of emotional arousal than other people. For instance, addicts tend to get easily worked up, take longer to emotionally collect themselves, and become quite intense.

To resolve these issues, DBT works well for treating recovering addicts who also have co-occurring psychosocial disorders such as eating disorders, anxiety disorders, and Schizophrenia. Most of these disorders are caused by difficult experiences in life.

Most of the people with these conditions tend to try and self-medicate themselves by regularly abusing alcohol and drugs. The co-occurring disorders (so called because they co-exist with addiction and substance use disorders) tend to make it all the more critical to apply addiction treatment therapy if only to provide psychological and physical cleansing.

Through this treatment module, the patients will be asked to focus on two things that might initially seem foreign in their mental state as well as to their inclination to abuse drugs and other addictive substances. These things include acceptance and change.

  1. Change

    The change will arise because the therapist will push the addict to cease their substance abuse. By so doing, the addict will be required to suddenly break off all connections to their former lifestyle of use.

  2. Acceptance

    Acceptance, on the other hand, will involve the patient getting to understand that sobriety and recovery are difficult, that they will make mistakes, and that a relapse does not necessarily mean that they are hopeless failures. In effect, DBT will attempt to get the recovering addict to accept their limitations and hindrances without necessarily focusing on the bigger picture - which is abstinence and full recovery.

In essence, therefore, DBT works well because it teaches patients how they are going to deal with the ordinary problems of life by maintaining and visualizing goals that are apart from the erratic and impulsive behavior that often leads them to abuse addictive substances.

A recent study showed that this form of addiction treatment therapy helps patients reduce their rate of alcohol and drug abuse even 16 months after they undergo formal rehabilitation and treatment. These patients were found to be more socially adjusted, meaning that DBT is quite effective for treating severely dysfunctional addicts.

3. Gestalt Therapy

This is an experimental form of addiction treatment therapy originating from the psychodynamic module. As such, it heavily incorporates most of the aspects of the humanistic model.

Gestalt therapy was originated by Laura and Fritz Perls. Today, it is designed to focus on the personal experience of the individual patient within the moment of therapy and in the interactions that occur during treatment. It also works on the relationship between the patient and the therapist, the social contexts occurring in the patient's life, as well as the adjustments that they make to explain and justify their actions.

This form of addiction treatment therapy also emphasizes on accountability and responsibility for one's own actions and behavior, while encouraging the patient to freely express themselves without any guilt whatsoever.

4. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy

Otherwise referred to as EMDR, this form of addiction treatment therapy combines neurobiological theory with cognitive-behavioral principles in its approach to dealing with and healing substance use disorders and all accompanying co-occurring disorders. As such, the therapist will use exposure and cognitive-behavioral principles based on behavioral psychology while ensuring that the patient follows their hand motions.

Exposure, in this regard, refers to the behavioral technique that ensures that the therapist confronts the patient with visualization and anxiety-provoking stimuli to help them reduce and water down their anxiety.

These eye movements and hand motions are believed to be effective at helping to enhance and enrich the therapeutic process.

5. Didactic Therapy

This is a type of addiction treatment therapy that is primarily experiential and which is based on psycho-education and its accompanying principles. However, learning through didactic therapy tends to be action-oriented and experiential in nature.

That said, addiction treatment therapists use this form of therapy in group sessions, where it adopts a classroom-like environment and atmosphere. In these settings, the therapist is better able to teach certain techniques, principles, and other forms of knowledge and information through instructional methods that are based on basic psychological principles.

6. Expressive Therapies

Otherwise referred to as creative arts therapy or expressive arts therapy, expressive addiction treatment therapies tend to use different forms of creation and expression as the basis of the therapeutic mechanism of change.

Most of these techniques, as you can well imagine, are experiential in nature. However, they also incorporate action-oriented elements. It might also be important to understand that expressive therapy is an umbrella term that covers many different types of alternative and complementary therapies that may include, but are not limited to, music therapy, dance therapy, and art therapy.

7. Psychodrama

This is another form of expressive addiction treatment therapy where you will try and explore the unconscious internal conflicts that you encounter by acting your experiences out on stage either alone or with others.

In most cases, the therapist may use a protagonist (who acts as the major player in a particular scene), as well as other acts who interact with each other. The therapist, on the other hand, will act as the director.

During the scene, you will be required to act out specific experiences, reactions, and feelings before you get the opportunity to discuss these actions and activities with the therapist (and the others around you).

This technique is also experiential in nature. However, it also incorporates a variety of action-oriented principles.

8. Hypnotherapy

Also referred to as hypnosis, hypnotherapy is a form of addiction treatment therapy that primarily uses focused concentration and guided relaxation to help you get to a heightened state of awareness. By so doing, it allows you to change your attitudes, behaviors, and feelings. Today, hypnotherapy is practiced in action-oriented environments to help addicts gain a better insight into their feelings and experiences.

9. Contingency Management Therapy

Through this addiction treatment therapy, you will receive positive incentives for you to remain clean during your substance abuse treatment. For instance, you might be given vouchers for privileges, services, and tangible goods in a rigid treatment setting to ensure that you try and keep away from drugs and alcohol.

10. Motivational Interviewing

In the past, most drug abuse treatments and interventions involved a great deal of confrontation and conflict. According to the thinking at the time, addicts and others suffering from substance use disorders were masters of denial and therapy was essential for breaking down all walls and to force them to accept that they are addicts.

Although confrontation still plays a role in addiction treatment, therapists are now trying to promote motivational interviewing in their rehabilitation. Through this form of addiction treatment therapy, for instance, the therapist will seek to understand as well as enhance your natural motivation to change.

For instance, if you reveal to the therapist that you are motivated by love of your family - or the opportunity to return to work - they might use these incentives as the focus of the therapy.

11. Others

Other forms of addiction treatment therapy include, but are not limited to:

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