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Sober Nation

Putting Recovery On The Map

02-17-16 | By

The 5 Most Common Therapies Used in Drug Treatment

5 Common Therapeutic Modalities

For those who enter a drug treatment program, they are given the tools and support they need to address and overcome the underlying root issues of what can kept them stuck in the vicious cycle of addiction. There are several essential treatment services that experienced staff can draw from in order to create an individual plan of recovery that meets the unique needs of each client. No matter the addiction or focus of specific drug treatment programs, therapy is perhaps the most essential of all treatment services.

Why is Therapy So Important in Drug Treatment?

While many addicts may not think about it, addiction as a whole can be seen as two separate entities which are physical addiction and psychological addiction. When the physical aspects of addiction are addressed during the medical detoxification process in drug treatment, there are some addicts will think they are “cured” of their addiction. While the physical aspect of addiction may be controlled, the psychological aspects of addiction can remain long after the physical cravings for substances have subsided.

To address the lingering psychological effects of drug and alcohol addiction, therapy gives the addict the healthy coping skills needed to deal with the stresses and stimuli in their environments. The most beneficial aspect of therapy is the fact there is a myriad of therapies that treatment centers utilize that can fit the unique needs of any individual that enters treatment. The following are 5 most common therapies used in drug treatment centers.

Individual Therapy

Also known as talk therapy or psychotherapy, individual therapy is a core component of drug treatment programs. As the name implies, individual therapy involves the client working with a therapist on a one-on-one basis. Individual therapy sessions help the client better understand themselves and they learn the coping skills needed to respond to challenges in the recovery and their everyday lives. Psychotherapy is extremely beneficial in the fact they are open to discuss their feelings in an environment which is nurturing, supportive and safe. The act of “talking things out” can be extremely therapeutic and clients can feel better knowing what they truly feel is out in the open. This type of therapy is extremely useful in drug treatment because it can help clients uncover the true causes of their addiction which often include mental health issues and past trauma.

Group Therapy

Along with one-on-one therapy, group therapy is also an important part of a person’s individual program of recovery and is one of the most common therapies used in drug treatment. With group therapy, the addict is surrounded by peers who are travelling a similar path and they feel they have worth. Group therapy, often called peer group therapy, allows the client to witness first-hand the milestones and achievements reached by others in the group and clients learn to interact with others in a more healthy fashion. Group therapy removes the isolation and they can begin to listen to and understand other’s points of view which helps remove the self-centeredness that is common in addicts.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is another common addiction therapy that focuses on the relationships between a person’s thoughts, feelings and behaviors. In CBT sessions, experienced therapists help patients explore their negative patterns of thinking that are preventing them from moving forward. Once those patterns are identified, therapists help clients modify those negative behaviors through the use of journaling and the development of positive thought patterns. CBT is beneficial in addiction therapy because it provides clients a support network to lean in during stressful periods and helps them to build their self-esteem and confidence, and it also can be extremely effective in combating co-occurring disorders such as anxiety and depression that are common in substance abuse.


With this form of therapy, clients who are active in drug treatment are encouraged to become affiliated with a 12-Step based support group such as AA or NA. 12-Step therapy is based on the First Step of AA and many 12-step groups in that the addict is powerless over their addiction and substance abuse has taken over the addict’s life and their life has become unmanageable. In order to break free from their addiction, the addict must give themselves over to a higher power and accept the support and structure of a recovery group made up of peers who are experiencing similar situations to their own.

By becoming involved in meetings and taking part in other recovery-based activities, the addict will achieve abstinence from drugs and alcohol. Many drug treatment centers utilize 12-Step methods in their treatment programming and is has proven to be effective due to the peer support patients receive through active participation in meetings. Since the 12 Steps themselves are spiritually-based, many patients often develop strong spiritual beliefs which provides a solid foundation for a program of continued recovery.

Reality Therapy

Reality therapy was developed in the mid-1960’s and is distinct in the fact that the focus for the client is on the present and not on past events. In this therapy model, it is believed those who engage in inappropriate behavior such as addiction need help in acknowledging that their behavior is inappropriate and will develop ways to think and act in logical ways. The emphasis of this therapy is learning how to make decisions and taking action in controlling themselves in relation to the world around them. Therapists use question-based sessions that avoid discussing any symptoms or complaints and places the focus on what the client can do right now to effect change in their lives. Reality therapy is considered a form of psychotherapy and is most effective in drug treatment when used in conjunction with other therapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy.

Which Type of Therapy Will Be Right For Me?

Every addict has been affected by substance abuse in ways that are unique to them, and as a result the treatment of addiction cannot take a “one size fits all” approach. When determining the best therapy approach, experienced staff will conduct a full and comprehensive evaluation once you enter treatment. Each therapy option has its’ own set of strengths, and treatment staff can combine various therapy approaches so it will best fit your personality and goals in treatment.



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