For the layman, ways of dealing with addictions seem, generally, to be something of a lost cause. Begging, pleading, hiding alcohol, trying to find hidden stores of alcohol or drugs, and trying to keep the addict from toxic friends. All of these things have been tried by friends and family members, but usually with little positive effect. So much so, that they finally give up trying and leave the addict to find treatment themselves during a time when they need the most support.
The trained, professional psychologist knows differently. In actuality, there are a number of therapies that can be used to successfully alter and eradicate the addictive behavior. Aside from the knowledge of the variety of therapies that are available, the psychotherapist also has the equally important knowledge of how to determine which therapy might be the best in treating a particular patient. The therapist bases the decision on which treatment is likely to be the most effective on a combination of careful assessment of the characteristics and personality of the addict, the knowledge of the relative capabilities of the therapies being applied for differing personalities and situations, and the knowledge and expertise in applying the therapy in working with the addict to eradicate the addiction.
Below are some of the most effective therapies in dealing with addictions. The focus of these therapeutic approaches lies in their capabilities in leading the addict to change the destructive behaviors of addictions.
Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT)
Addicts typically develop a series of behavioral responses to situations in which they find themselves. For example, when feeling excessive stress, they respond behaviorally by reverting to the addiction substance of choice.
The focus of CBT is to use the cognitive capabilities of the addict (their thinking capabilities) to analyze their behavioral responses and work through processes intended to extinguish the negative behaviors and/or substitute positive behavioral responses. The first step in this process is to help the addict to identify and recognize various motivating states of mind, such as beliefs, thoughts, and opinions that are mistaken and inaccurate, and to see how they are linked to inappropriate behavioral responses which are negative. Also identified are the negative aspects of the inappropriate behavioral responses to revert to the use of the substance of choice, such as relationship and family problems, problems at work, and/or adverse health consequences.
Armed with this input and information, the addict and therapist work together to identify the addict’s high-risk circumstances and situations. Next, comes the development by the therapist of a number of strategies to deal positively with the high-risk situations to avoid the addictive behavioral responses. As these began to work for the addict, success in positively dealing with the addictive behavior encourages the addict to apply the strategies regularly, and more successfully. The effect of this is to reduce and make progress towards the eradication of the addictive behavior, the substitution of positive behavioral responses, and improved emotional and mental health.
Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)
This is also a form of CBT but is more useful than regular CBT in working with addictive cases that are particularly difficult to treat. Examples of this would be addictions that accompany the conditions of PTSD, self-injury, suicide ideation, threats, and attempts, and the behaviors of Borderline Personality Disorder, such as alienation and anti-social; behaviors. “Dialectical” refers to the existence in the mind of the addict of some interlocking combination of environmental circumstances (relationship, family, job, personal stressors) and states of emotional vulnerability and volatility. As such, the therapy works with the duality of the addiction-motivating situation and circumstances.
The focus of the therapeutic process is the therapist working with the addict to create and improve the addict’s acceptance of the circumstances in their lives which have contributed to the development and continuation of the addictive behavior, and to recognize the validation in responding to the circumstances with more positive, less addictive behavioral responses. The therapist works with the addict to identify modifiable cognitive, emotional, and behavioral responses.
The approach of DBT focuses on four areas of response: emotional regulation, the increased tolerance of stress, mindfulness, which is consciousness of living in the moment, and effectiveness in interpersonal situations.
Settings for therapeutic activity:
Three primary settings for the successful treatment of addictions are the individual level, family or couples therapy, and/or group therapy.
Individual Therapeutic Activity
At the individual level, the addict works with the therapist one-on-one. This is what most people think of as “therapy,” where the therapist works with the client or addict. After a usually brief period of introduction to the therapist and situation, these partners in the treatment become comfortable in talking and interacting with one another in making progress in the therapeutic process. The interplay of information, ideas, analysis, emotional and behavioral identification contributes to the progress of the addict in controlling and, ultimately, extinguishing the addictive behavioral responses.
Family And/Or Couple Therapy
Family or couples therapy brings together the relevant people for the addict who shares in the consequences of the addiction to work together to identify problematic situations and develop responses to encounter and deal with them in positive ways that do not contribute to addictive-motivated behavioral responses. Since all of these parties share in the consequences of the addictive behavior, it is valuable for them to work cooperatively with the therapist in discovering more positive ways of dealing with the shared problems they engender and face. In sharing the therapy, they are not “going it alone.” The therapist also creates activities that provide the basis for learning positive coping strategies for the benefit of all participants through the substitution of positive behavioral responses for negative addictive and addictive-generating responses.
Group therapy in which several people, all sharing a similar problem, with addictions, in this case, are assembled to discuss, interrelate and receive guidance and input from the psychotherapist, and share information with each other. Participants learn from the experiences shared by the other addicts. In this way, they receive input from a variety of viewpoints and perspectives, learning about themselves, their responses, their addictions, and their behavior. The objectives are for the improvement of communications, the building and strengthening of relationships, and positive cohesiveness. This gives rise to a situation of group dynamics in which efforts and activities to convert negative thought patterns to more positive patterns take place. These group sessions contribute toward the overall therapy which usually involves other therapeutic approaches, as described above, directed towards the diminishing of the motivations to addictive behavioral responses.
Art, Recreational, and Pet Therapy
In addition to these main therapeutic approaches, there are other forms of therapy which expand and further the objective of eliminating addictive behavioral responses. Some of these are music, dance, and art therapy to provide means for the addict to express him or herself in ways other than addictive behavior.
Recreational therapy, to provide an outlet for pent up stress and emotions through physical activities. Exercises to increase the addict’s mindfulness, to aid the addict to learn to live in the moment and use meditation, breathing techniques, and self-analysis for emotional and cognitive responsiveness. Wilderness and adventure therapy for the development and pursuit of new and healthy interests.
Pet therapy to reduce stressful feelings and building self-confidence and personal responsibility in the care of another being. The use of yoga, spirituality, meditation, and other holistic therapies.
Looking for A Licensed Addiction Therapist Near You?
The point is that there are a number of positive treatments for addictions. Dr. Blair at Blair Wellness Group in Beverly Hills is professionally trained and skilled in the use of therapeutic approaches to positively deal with addictions in the interest of diminishing and eliminating their characteristic behaviors. Through one-on-one personal discussions, Dr. Blair will assess your particular situation and work with you in the creation and pursuing the therapeutic approaches that she believes to be most advantageous at leading you to achieve a more satisfying and positive life, work towards stronger interpersonal and family relationships, and improve the quality of work you can produce. Call to make an appointment today.