If you’ve decided to get sober and are considering going to rehab, there are a few things you should look into first. Addiction treatment facilities offer invaluable help with medically-supervised detox, support groups, residential treatment, skills counseling and therapy. Rehab is generally necessary for anyone who cannot stop using a substance by themselves, or if they have a physical dependence that causes serious withdrawal symptoms. However, if you don’t have a physical dependence, you might consider working with an addiction therapist before going directly to rehab. Therapy and individual counseling are the most important parts of addiction treatment that enable people to find lasting recovery.
Why Go To Addiction Therapy Before Rehab
Whether you’re still using drugs or alcohol or have quit by yourself, it’s still important to see an addiction therapist. Substance abuse disorders don’t typically go away by themselves. If you’re still actively using drugs or alcohol, you can learn through therapy how to identify your underlying issues and deal with them. If you’ve managed to quit using drugs or alcohol on your own, then therapy can help you find the triggers and stressors that might lead you to use again in the future. Going to rehab is a big decision. If you don’t immediately need detox, you can see an addiction therapist first to help you understand what’s causing your substance abuse.
Individual Therapy vs. Group Therapy
Some people join therapy groups to deal with their substance abuse. There’s no doubt that group therapy has a place in treating addiction. It can be very important to interact with others who share your struggles. However, individual therapy also offers invaluable benefits. Some people find it difficult to share personal struggles and experiences with others. They may find it hard to focus in a group setting.
Seeing a personal addiction therapist gives you the opportunity to have a one-on-one meeting with a professional counselor. You can establish a rapport with them that will enable sharing to be more comfortable. Many people feel more secure and safe when they share their private concerns with only their therapist vs. a group of people they don’t know.
What Kind of Therapy Will Your Addiction Therapist Use?
There are various types of substance abuse therapy methods. Your counselor may use one primarily, or they may use a combination of methods.
The following are some common therapy methods:
• Contingency management therapy
• Motivational interviewing
• Maintenance therapy
• Cognitive behavioral therapy
• Humanistic approach
Let’s Take a Closer Look at These Different Methods of Substance Abuse Therapy.
Contingency Management Therapy
This is a type of behavioral therapy that can be used in treating drugs and alcohol addiction. It uses motivational rewards and incentives that help a person stop using drugs or alcohol. The idea comes from the natural inclination of people to pursue behaviors and activities that lead to rewards. The reward system is hardwired into the brain. Hijacking this natural system is part of what makes drug and alcohol addiction so devastating. The feeling or high from substance abuse is a form of reward that encourages the person to continue their behavior in order to achieve it. Your addiction therapist may use some form of this therapy during your treatment.
As another type of therapy used to treat substance abuse, motivational interviewing seeks to facilitate behavioral changes through resolving ambivalence. There are four steps to the process of motivational interviewing:
Your addiction therapist begins by encouraging communication without judgment. Once you build trust towards the therapist, you’re more likely to return for further sessions and open up further communication. The next step is focusing, which means finding the area where you want to make a change. If you’re striving to quit using drugs or alcohol, this is the step where you find a direction and goal. Your therapist will help you see the behaviors that are keeping you from your goal of being sober.
In the evoking step, you explore your reasons for wanting change. This often reveals that you have more reasons to change vs. continuing with your old habits. The planning stage is where you commit to change and make a plan on how to do so.
Your addiction therapist may encourage you to continue counseling sessions even after you meet your goals of sobriety. Many people find maintenance therapy to be very helpful in staying sober and avoiding relapse. It also ensures that you have someone to talk to if your old triggers and thought patterns begin to reemerge. It’s important to remember that staying free of addiction is a lifelong battle for many people. Staying free of drugs or alcohol for a year or more doesn’t mean that it will last the rest of your life without help.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
CBT is the classic therapy approach for treating substance abuse. It’s common for an addiction therapist to use behavioral therapy as the backbone for treatment. The thesis of CBT is that all behavior is learned, which means that unhealthy and negative behavior can be changed. In order to change negative behavior, you must identify the negative thought patterns that lead to the negative behavior. The goals of CBT are as follows:
• Awareness of subconscious thoughts
• Visualizing situations from different perspectives
• Understanding the motivations of others
• Challenging false assumptions
• Refusing to deal in generalizations
Other types of behavioral therapy that might be used by an addiction therapist include systematic desensitization and aversion therapy.
The humanistic approach may be used by your addiction therapist as well. It can be used to treat substance abuse as well as other mental health issues like anxiety and depression. This approach was meant to be a balance between psychoanalysis and behavioral therapy. The latter two approaches tend to focus on flaws and identifying negative thoughts and behavior. A humanistic approach, on the other hand, is more about identifying positive traits and focusing on ways to achieve a person’s true potential.
Many therapists combine elements of all three of the aforementioned approaches. It’s important to focus on free will and have a positive outlook, however, it’s also important to identify and correct negative behavior. Many patients come into therapy for the specific reason of wanting to correct negative behavior and bad habits. An experienced therapist will always try to see the world from the client’s point of view and encourage clients to share their thoughts without trying to judge or direct them.
Doctor Howard Samuels is an addiction therapist in Los Angeles who specializes in behavioral therapy and psychoanalysis for substance abuse. If you are interested in working with a substance abuse therapist before going to rehab or before considering rehab, contact Dr. Samuels today.