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Effective Addiction Therapy
in Drug & Alcohol Treatment


There are many different types of therapy in the psychology realm. Many therapy models continue to evolve and change as science and studies progress in the world.

Some types of drug addiction therapy are best suitable to use when dealing with recovery. Most of these therapies have been practiced and recorded data for decades.

Treatments are geared toward the individual with the understanding that addiction is a complex part of the whole person and can look different to each person. However, the good news is, substance abuse can be treated. In fact, many licensed therapists and caring psychologists use more than one of these models at the same time for an overall personalized treatment therapy system, depending on the patient and his or her unique situation.

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Types Of Therapies At Opus Health

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive- Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a type of drug addiction therapy that holds the model that thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are all connected. It was first used to treat depression patients but was found effective in helping patients overcome anxiety, PTSD, traumatic memories, addiction, and psychotic disorders.

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy relates emotions and thoughts to the influence of behavior, and also behaviors to the influence of feelings and ways of thinking. CBT is helpful for anyone recovering from addiction because it builds your personal awareness of your own thoughts, actions, and often-ignored emotions. It allows you to reflect on the consequences of each of these three. With more awareness, you’re able to work toward building new mindsets and daily habits to improve your overall life and relationships.

Contingency Management

Also called “Motivational Incentives”, this therapy model began in the early 1900s and is still widely practiced today. It’s been noted most effective with defiant disorders, addiction recovery, and impulsivity.

The idea is based on operant conditioning. This means helpful and desired behaviors are rewarded, and harmful/undesired actions are punished. Treatment centers like our detox center for men tend to use this type of drug addiction therapy. It’s helpful because many times, addiction is influenced by social, learned, and biological factors. Therefore, with operant conditioning, the patient is able to relearn beliefs about which actions are desirable to him and why. Clean drug tests could mean recreational or financial privileges, and testing positive for drugs might mean the loss of free time or eventually being kicked out of the program. This is simply an example, though, and is not necessarily how we do things.

Mindfulness-Based Therapy

Mindfulness cognitive therapy (MBCT) started as a method of relapse-prevention in patients recovering from substance abuse leaning toward depressive disorders. It’s since expanded to other patients in the case that they can align with new beliefs, thought patterns, and meditative exercises in order to prevent a pattern of downward spiraling that leads to relapse or major depressive episodes.

Through breathing, self-awareness, meditation, and increased mindfulness, patients are able to step away from attachment to negative feelings and take some space before reacting abruptly to triggering emotions and situations. MBCT helps recovering addicts in finding practical tools they can use any time and place to prevent difficult temptations of relapse.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy (EMDR)

EMDR is a popular trauma-focused treatment style of therapy for patients who suffer from depression, anxiety, and PTSD. Unlike most cognitive and talk-therapy approaches, EMDR has an 8-step formula approach. Therapists utilize specific eye movements for the patient in order for them to reprocess past traumatic experiences that may have been shut off or blocked out of full processing.  

EMDR is highly effective and can show drastic results even in just one or two sessions. Some people who undergo EMDR therapy claim they can “literally feel their synapses rewiring”. It’s a major helpful tool in addiction recovery because as studies continue, it’s been found that substance abuse is commonly a coping mechanism of dealing with unresolved traumatic life experiences. The end result is a fully interactive (and safe!) process of coming to terms with traumas in order to free the personal habits that formerly inhibited emotional, social, and cognitive functioning.

Motivational Interviewing

Motivational Interviewing was created to address illicit drug use. Through this therapy, the therapist encourages the patient to reach empowering decision-making skills in order to live life in a more motivated way. Those in recovery from addiction benefit greatly from goal-setting and continual motivation. So this therapy model is essentially a way to allow the individual to talk through any issues in order to reach their own conclusions and then make positive decisions accordingly that lead to change.

Motivational Interviewing has been seen as an effective, empathetic approach to talk therapy. It opens up the change for any patient to reflect on where they’ve been, what they want to do to change their circumstance, and take the realistic steps in order to reach a new lifestyle.

Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT)

In the 1950s, Albert Ellis was a Psychologist who studied many types of therapy and at the time, considered many of them to be incomplete. He wanted a new model where the thoughts and beliefs of the individual could be observed in how the two affect personal behavior or moods.

Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy takes into account two main things:

Thought, which is how a person uniquely perceives something, and
Emotion, which is the feeling a person has about the situation.

People hold positive and negative beliefs, which can be learned or influenced throughout life. Beliefs can also be changed for the better. The goal is to work through reaching better beliefs about the self, others, and expectations about life.

Matrix Model

The Matrix Model brings together the most effective practices from the most effective therapies geared towards treating addiction, especially with stimulant-drug addiction (like cocaine or meth).

There’s a specific structure and this model usually lasts around 16 weeks but can sometimes go longer. Matrix Model is combined with an IOP (intensive outpatient program) which means the patient doesn’t have to be in an inpatient rehab program to take this type of therapeutic approach. He or she can go about their daily life while going in for therapy sessions several times per week.  

Individual therapy sessions, as well as group and family sessions, are held in this Matrix Model. Other addiction recovery-based programs are implied, such as 12-step programs, support groups, relapse prevention classes, recovery skills workshops, family education, and community support. Several therapists are often involved and in tight communication with one another. The goal is to offer as much support as possible while the patient works through his or her thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors that came with addiction.

Multidimensional Family Therapy

This type of therapy upholds the reality that addiction is not just personal but also a “family disease”. Instead of treating only the addicted person(s) in the family, therapists work with all members of the immediate circle of loved ones to address the issues that came before, during, and after a harmful addiction.

Usually, therapists in this model will have private sessions with each family member and maintain group family sessions as well. This is effective because it gives all people in close relationship with the addict to find the support and understanding they need in a sensitive time, while still providing love and support while the addict goes through their recovery journey.

Since every person in the family may feel entitled to their own thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and expectations of others, this type of therapy can become challenging and quite messy. However, it’s helped countless families stand strong during an addiction within the family. It is a great way to feel less alone and bring relationships together in a way that might otherwise feel overwhelming or isolated.

Effective Addiction Therapy in Drug & Alcohol Treatment

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