Addiction Treatment & Therapy A comprehensive guide to understand your options

Evidence-Based Treatment

Addiction treatment ranges in style and general setting, but studies across many forms of therapy have proven effective in treating substance abuse. For this reason, therapy is an integral part of treatment programs at nearly every accredited inpatient rehab facility across the country.

About half of all people diagnosed with a substance abuse disorder will also be diagnosed with a mental health problem. This led to the rise in various addiction treatment to help treat both diagnoses simultaneously. To treat clients in a personalized setting and provide mutual support, three key forms of therapy have risen to the top:

3 Most Popular Therapy Settings

Individual Therapy

Individual Therapy

Individual therapy is comprised of one-on-one therapy sessions between a client and medical professional to better understand their unique needs. In general, this form of addiction treatment aims to help clients develop coping mechanisms, understand personal thought processes, and offer personalized emotional support.

Group Therapy

Group Therapy

Group therapy allows those in recovery to learn in a social setting, understand how addiction has impacted other’s lives, and process navigating life after getting sober. It also offers quick progress by identifying triggers or patterns in others and helps clients identify the same problems in themselves.

Family Therapy

Family Therapy

Family therapy is a subset of group therapy, but instead focuses on how addiction has affected the entire family unit and not just the client alone. Family therapy, in particular, has proven to be more effective than treatment plans without a family therapy component.

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Behavioral therapy is a form of talk therapy in which the client engages with a therapist to remain abstinent, modify attitudes and beliefs, learn to handle stressful situations, and more to help them learn how they can achieve long-term sobriety.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is one of the most common and effective forms of talk therapy in which therapists work with clients to identify harmful thought patterns. After identifying these, clients will learn to alter their thought processes to create long-term behavioral change. CBT is considered the “gold standard” of talk therapy and has been proven effective for both addiction treatment and mental health treatment.

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) is a subset of CBT and works by helping clients learn to accept themselves as well as develop healthier behaviors that are conducive with long-term sobriety. It is a common addiction treatment method and has proven to be effective in helping establish and continue sobriety.

As the name suggests, exposure therapy refers to an addiction treatment method in which a client will be repeatedly exposed to a stimuli that may be causing their substance abuse problems. The goal is that the repeated presence of the stimuli will allow the client to become desensitized to these triggering thoughts or experiences. It has been shown to be effective in treating bipolar disorder and PTSD.

Motivational interviewing is a persuasive and supportive form of addiction treatment in which a client and therapist work collaboratively to help improve self-confidence and motivation of the client. It helps by identifying internal motivators and is great for breaking through denial. Motivational Interviewing has been proven to be effective in helping people dealing with substance abuse issues.

Rational-Emotive Behavioral Therapy (REBT) is a form of talk therapy that helps clients identify self-defeating behaviors or thoughts and challenge the rationality of those thoughts. REBT has been shown to be effective in improving problems related to unhealthy feelings and abuse of drugs and alcohol.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a form of treatment to help clients deal with underlying issues of anxiety and mood disorders. EMDR is performed by using a combination of rapid eye movements and therapy to help process trauma and pain, reduce self-doubt, and increase self-confidence. It reduces a client’s reactivity to memories and has proven to help and improve problems related to negative emotions and beliefs and can reduce and even eliminate PTSD symptoms.

Psychodynamic therapy is a form of addiction treatment used for underlying problems such as trauma and PTSD. During psychodynamic therapy, therapists work to reveal the unconscious motivations and beliefs behind a client’s actions. Psychodynamic therapy has shown to be effective in understanding complex trauma disorders.

Gestalt therapy is a traditional form of mental health therapy that works by emphasizing personal relationships, experiences, and emotion to make clients feel more attached to the present. Most other forms of therapy look into a client’s past whereas Gestalt therapy focuses on the here and now.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, or ACT, is a form of psychological intervention in which the therapist works to identify thoughts or actions that clients believe are negative. Therapists will work to reframe the language that surrounds these thoughts so that clients are not as hard on themselves or as fearful of these thoughts.

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Experiential therapy is a distinct form of addiction treatment in which the client and therapist relies on outward influences to help improve a client’s ability to learn about themselves and improve recovery outlook.

Equine therapy, or horse therapy, is a form of addiction treatment in which clients interact with horses through riding, grooming, and feeding the animals. During treatment, clients work with masters-level, licensed therapists to identify thought patterns during these interactions and use the horses as a jumping off point for confronting real world interactions. Along with allowing clients time away from the usual day-to-day forms of treatment, equine therapy has shown to extend how long clients remain in addiction treatment and increase feelings of empathy, impulse control, sense of responsibility, and more.

Biofeedback utilizes FDA-approved devices to measure a person’s body signals (brain waves, heart rate, temperature, perspiration, etc) and restructure the physical response to triggering situations. Biofeedback is considered a supplementary therapy as it works to treat the underlying causes of addiction. Therapists are trained to interpret physical responses and guide clients through altered thinking, emotional response control, and more. It has proven effective at increasing abstinence rates when paired with behavioral therapies.

Cranial Electrical Stimulation, or CES, is a form of therapy used to help people struggling with depression, anxiety, stress, and irrational beliefs. CES uses non-invasive therapeutic devices that send low-intensity pulses to the brain and earlobes. This form of therapy has shown to improve symptoms as well as quality of life in those treated, including a 40% decrease of anxiety problems.

Wilderness therapy can be especially helpful for clients with dual diagnosis. Oftentimes, wilderness therapy is used for adolescents, but can work for everyone. It is used for people dealing with emotional, behavioral, and substance abuse issues and clients will likely participate in a number of outdoor activities including hiking, backcountry travel, rock climbing, and more. Wilderness therapy clients were shown to have higher completion treatment rates than those participating in normal addiction treatment options.

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Along with evidence-based addiction treatment programs, there are also alternative therapy methods that are still being studied and learned about which may hold benefits that can improve a client’s chance at recovery.

Acupuncture is a less common form of treatment that clients are exposed to during addiction treatment. While acupuncture is still considered an experimental form of drug therapy, there is some evidence that it can help with some effects of drug dependence. The NADA Acudetox Protocol is on form of treatment clinically proven to help those with addiction and behavioral health problems.

Along with acupuncture, massage therapy is a literal hands-on approach to addiction treatment that can help clients relax during their time in treatment so that they are better able to focus on other forms of treatment. Moreover, massage therapy has even shown to be helpful for substance abuse, specifically those dealing with alcohol withdrawal. 

While not technically a form of therapy, exercise has been proven to help with not only physical health, but mental fortitude as well. Along with improving physical and mental health, exercise has shown to be a useful form of treatment.

Mindfulness and addiction recovery often takes the form of yoga, meditation, and other mindfulness practices. These techniques are a common form of complementary therapy that can enhance “addiction treatment, prevention, and recovery.”

Virtual reality (VR) is emerging as a potential form of addiction treatment for those dealing with substance abuse. During these treatment sessions, clients will use virtual reality to expose themselves to stimuli that triggers cravings, such as a beer bottle or a party scene. From there, therapists will talk them through the situation and help them learn to navigate it so that when they are exposed to these situations in real life, they know what to do. Some studies have shown that VR can help improve clients dealing with alcohol cravings and drug addiction.

Somatic experiencing (SE) is a body-focused form of alternative addiction treatment used to help people dealing with PTSD. The therapy involves creating awareness on inner physical sensations, which are often viewed as the carriers of the traumatic event. The goal of SE is to ease and release the stimulations the body feels when clients relive these traumatic memories.

Recovery is Possible at The Hope House

Medication-Assisted Therapy (MAT) is an evolving addiction treatment option that incorporates prescribed medications to manage cravings, and talk therapy to confront the underlying causes of addiction. Most of the medications are intended to help clients remain in treatment longer and slowly taper off of them as clients confront their issues in talk therapy. There are a wide variety of MAT medications available including: Vivitrol, Suboxone, and Methadone, to name a few.

For those looking to travel for addiction treatment or who live in Arizona, The Hope House offers behavioral, experiential, and alternative therapies in all of the settings listed above. We have highly trained clinicians who will use all the tools at their disposal to help you conquer substance abuse and mental illness. Contact our addiction specialists today to learn more about what a personalized treatment plan could look like for you.

If you’re looking for addiction treatment elsewhere, SAMHSA offers a free treatment locator, here.

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