Therapy Options in Rehab
A central element of substance abuse treatment is therapy.
Along with medical treatments for detox and withdrawal, education about substance abuse, and practical physical care treatments like nutrition and personal training, therapy provides one of the most important parts of rehab: the ability to directly effect change of substance abuse behaviors.
Because there’s no one type of treatment that is helpful for all people in treatment, as explained by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, there is a range of therapy types that may be used in various combinations to help individuals maximize their ability to achieve recovery and avoid relapse to substance abuse.
Overall Goal of Treatment Therapies
Substance use disorders are primarily considered to be psychological disorders. Therefore, when a person is struggling with a substance use disorder, psychological treatments are indicated to help the person recover from and manage the issue. A major mechanism for this treatment is therapy.
The overall goal of treatment therapies is to support the person in the ability to avoid relapse to substance abuse after treatment. According to the American Psychological Association, therapy is undertaken to help people learn to manage mental or emotional problems, change behaviors, and lead happier, more productive lives. This work to change thought and behavior patterns is sometimes referred to as cognitive restructuring.
For substance abuse, therapy can help the person learn to manage the substance use disorder, including being able to change the behavioral response to the thoughts and situations that trigger the desire to abuse drugs or alcohol. This ability to recognize one’s own thought-behavior patterns and change the response to them, or otherwise manage the mental issues that lead to substance abuse, specifically helps in preventing relapse.
Overview of Substance Abuse Therapy Options
The full range of therapy types is designed to meet the person at the level of need and provide specific tools for managing the substance use disorder. This includes:
- Fostering an understanding of the triggers and cravings that lead to drug abuse
- Developing strategies to manage and change response to the situations that trigger cravings
- Exploring the feelings that underpin those situations and how to manage them
- Practicing helpful responses and behaviors
- Establishing a level of social support and motivation for change
- Evaluating progress and adjusting therapy types and levels if necessary
Various broad types of the therapies used to accomplish these goals are described below. Within each of these categories, there are additional options to customize the treatment to the individual’s needs.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapies
This therapy approach is designed to help a person understand how thought processes or exposure to certain situations triggers the desire to abuse drugs or contributes to cravings. For example, the person in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) might explore situations during which cravings develop, what feelings are occurring at the time, and how those feelings contribute to cravings. The person can then learn to interrupt this cycle and insert new behaviors in response to the situation to curb substance use.
Different types of CBT or similar types of therapy can be provided for this reason. For example, there is a type of CBT that is specifically focused on approaching issues of trauma with people for whom it is a factor.
According to a study review from the American Journal of Psychiatry, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy has been shown not only to help people learn to apply different behaviors and thought processes to situations that trigger substance use, but to also help establish continual improvement in the ability to avoid relapse in the long-term after treatment.