Seeking help for a drug or alcohol problem is difficult. Unfortunately, there is still a lot of stigma and stereotypes around substance abuse and addiction in our society. For many decades, there was a general idea that if individuals could just be strong enough, they could overcome their addiction. Research has shown that this idea couldn’t be farther from the truth. What we know now is that addiction is a chronic, persistent disease. It has negative effects on both behavior and the brain. We also know that, through drug and alcohol treatment, addiction can be treated successfully.
Research has shown that there are several types of therapy that have proven effective in drug and alcohol treatment. Cognitive behavioral therapy is the style that I prefer to use as I accept the idea that beliefs create thoughts and thoughts create behaviors. If you can change the beliefs and the thoughts, changing the behavior follows. Research also shows that the skills individuals learn through cognitive behavioral therapy remain intact following the treatment episode.
Individuals involved in cognitive behavioral therapy learn different skills and techniques to help change their substance abuse or addiction. Activities that help challenge irrational beliefs, explore the pros and cons of substance use, monitor automatic thoughts and cravings, identify high risk situations, and develop skills for coping and adapting in different situations are used in the therapy sessions and as homework to help individuals develop these new skills.
Drug and Alcohol Treatment Outcomes
The outcomes for an individual participating in drug and alcohol treatment depend on many factors. Co-occurring issues, whether or not you like and respect your therapist, how much work you do outside the therapy session, the supportive services available, and the techniques used in the treatment process may all play a role. But according to research, after accounting for these factors, individuals who get into drug and alcohol treatment, stay in treatment, and actively participate in their treatment program are very likely to stop using alcohol and/or drugs, increase their involvement in the family, be more productive in the workplace, improve their physical health, and regain control of their lives.
If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, seek help from a qualified therapist. You do not have to fight this issue alone.
Photo credit: NAMI: the National Alliance on Mental Illness