Substance use disorders are significant problems in the United States. Alcohol is legal, widely available and socially acceptable. Being such a common component of what’s considered normal life, the dangers associated with drinking are often ignored. While the occasional drink is arguably beneficial to many people, for lots of others, alcohol can lead to many financial and health problems, including addiction. Alcohol is associated with the deaths of around 88,000 Americans every year, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.1Drug abuse is also a threat to financial security and health. Substance abuse comes in many different guises. It ranges from illicit substances like heroin or cocaine to abuse of prescription drugs. Many people are surprised to learn that the number of people who abuse prescription drugs is higher than the number who use illegal drugs like heroin.2

Treatment for Substance Abuse

Behavioral changes are a key component of therapy for substance use disorders. Addiction is not a lifestyle choice that simply requires willpower to overcome; it is a complex mental illness that is incurable but can be managed.

The first component of treatment programs is for the client to discontinue using their substance of addiction. Clients who have become dependent on alcohol or drugs, most of whom will also be addicted, will experience withdrawal symptoms when they quit. Some treatment facilities help clients get through withdrawal by providing medications to minimize or prevent symptoms. Various types of therapy then help them learn the skills and behaviors to stay sober.

Common Therapy Types

Cognitive behavioral therapy is the most widely used form of therapy in addiction treatment. Cognitive processes are thought processes, and therapy addresses negative thoughts and behavior patterns. Clients develop positive thinking and positive behavioral responses.

Young girl riding a horse

Motivational interviewing is a therapy technique for helping people to identify their core values and understand the changes they will need to make to honor those values. The process motivates people to make changes to achieve goals.

Dialectical behavior therapy deals with interpersonal relationships, emotions and stress tolerance. It is often used to help people whose substance use disorder is driven by emotional factors. Dialectical behavior therapy is a modified version of CBT that focuses on thoughts and emotions, and it was originally developed to treat people experiencing ongoing suicidal ideations.

There are many other therapy types available to help people control their compulsions to use drugs or alcohol. These include:

  • Art Therapy
  • Music Therapy
  • Equine Therapy
  • Yoga
  • Meditation
  • Biofeedback
  • Recreation Therapy

Some therapies are of short duration. For example, CBT may be offered in 8-10 sessions. Others, like art therapy, are intended to help people in the long-term. Many rehab facilities will encourage clients to partake in more than one form of therapy.

Getting Help with Addiction Treatment

Facilities are located throughout the nation to treat substance use disorders. Some will offer outpatient therapy, while others will offer both outpatient and inpatient therapy. Contact one of these facilities to find out how they can help you or a loved one achieve and maintain sobriety.