Substance abuse treatment incorporates many different methods into a comprehensive plan of care to treat not only current symptoms, but to also address the root cause and promote sustained recovery. One key to treatment is therapy, which goes further than helping you get off of drugs and alcohol. It helps you understand why you used substances in the first place and how you can stay off of them beyond your time in treatment. 

This process can be vulnerable, as it involves opening up to a therapist who starts off as a stranger. This might be off-putting at first, as it is uncomfortable and might seem invasive. Overall, the process of therapy can be difficult to wrap your mind around.

What Is Therapy?

It is helpful to understand the types of therapies you might be exposed to during treatment. There are several evidence-based treatment modalities used by therapists.

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy

One type of therapy commonly used for substance use disorder is cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). Just as the name suggests, this modality addresses the interaction between thoughts and actions. Your therapist will help you identify situations, people, and places that trigger your urge to use substances and help you develop coping strategies ahead of time to confront those impulses. By implementing these coping strategies, you can train your mind to no longer give in to those urges.

Family Therapy

Another type of therapy often utilized in addiction treatment is family therapy. While many therapies focus exclusively on you, this modality sees you, the individual, as existing in a web of relationships that undoubtedly affect your mental health and substance use. 

These effects can be positive and mitigate the risk of using drugs and alcohol, or they can be negative and enable behavior, such as in codependent relationships. The therapist will guide the family toward supporting you in recovery and establishing new dynamics and boundaries to provide a safer and healthier environment and repair strained relationships. 

Not all treatment centers offer this type of therapy, but due to the importance of family support in addiction recovery, it can be beneficial to find a provider that offers a family recovery program. No matter the type of therapy you are receiving, it is also important to ensure that you are working with a properly licensed clinician who is recognized by their state as being able to practice independently.

Other Common Therapies

Therapy often will encompass more than solely the topic of your substance abuse. Other mental health disorders like anxiety, depression, and PTSD can occur alongside addiction. Due to the interrelated nature of these conditions, it is important to address each of them during treatment. Your therapist may draw on other types of therapy, like dialectical-behavior therapy (DBT), which emphasizes mindfulness and acceptance of uncomfortable thoughts and emotions. 

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a common therapeutic approach for people with PTSD. It utilizes rapid back-and-forth eye movement while recalling traumatic events to help you confront those memories and become desensitized to them. Psychodynamic therapy, which helps you to identify unconscious thought patterns that perpetuate distressing emotions is another common therapy used when struggling with substance misuse.

Before Therapy

Prior to your first therapy session, it can be helpful to spend some time thinking about what might be helpful to talk about. In some cases, this might be easy. Perhaps you recently went through a breakup or a death in the family, and this has been stimulating your need to use substances. Maybe you have been undergoing a lot of stress at work or at home, and drinking or using drugs has provided a temporary escape or way to numb the pain. These might be stressors that you would like to bring up to your therapist and examine together to find better ways to cope.

It is also completely normal to be at a loss for what you want to discuss. In this case, it could be helpful to ask those you trust about what you could discuss. Additionally, if you keep a journal or diary, you could consult that for some ideas.

Your therapist will be the one guiding the conversation during the first few sessions. They will be making an assessment and determining the course of treatment. This involves them asking questions about your work and home life, upbringing, and substance use.

If you are nervous about starting therapy, here are four important things to remember:

  1. You are in control. If there is ever an answer you are uncomfortable giving or a topic you are not ready to address, that is your right. 
  2. What you discuss is confidential. Your therapist is held to a high standard of confidentiality. The only exception to this rule is if you have shared something that gives your therapist reason to believe you are in danger of hurting yourself or others.
  3. You are not being judged. Addiction can bring with it a lot of shame, and you might not want to share about it because of the risk of embarrassment. Therapists are trained to have unconditional positive regard, meaning they want the best for you, despite your past or your mistakes. They may encourage you to think critically about your choices, but they will not seek to judge you or patronize you.
  4. Silence is part of the process. If there are moments of silence in the session, you do not have to feel pressured to fill it. It is time for reflection and processing.

Therapy is an essential component of stopping drugs and alcohol and working toward sustained sobriety and wellness. There are many different kinds of therapies, and each therapist brings a different background and set of experiences and expertise. That is why finding a high-quality, licensed clinician is crucial. Family-Centered Services prioritizes that quality, ensuring that our staff is composed of Master’s level therapists well-versed in addiction treatment and recovery. In addition to having personal experience with substance abuse, we also are well-equipped with evidence-based treatments to help you or your loved one achieve recovery. In addition to individual therapy, we also offer family therapy and a Family Recovery Program. Our sober accountability program aids your treatment by keeping your treatment team aware of how you are doing both in and out of sessions. Additionally, our case management keeps the process streamlined and straightforward. Give us a call at (509) 991-5822 today.