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Top 5 Evidence-Based Therapies For Treating Alcohol And Drug Use

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Alcoholism and drug use affect millions of people around the world. Even though these disorders create significant physical, psychological, and social problems, many people—even those addicted to drugs or alcohol—are not receiving the therapy they seemingly need. It begs the question: are evidence-based treatments for substance abuse being used? If so, which ones? Evidence-based therapies are types of psychotherapy that are proven to reduce the symptoms of many mental illnesses. These include alcoholism, drug addiction, and eating disorders, to name a few. Evidence-based therapies focus on the most effective treatment for the patient’s condition. If you visit a reputable drug rehab in Oregon, they will use this kind of therapy. These treatments include cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), behavioral therapy, and dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), to name a few.

A common problem in addiction treatment is that the patients who do well seem to have been born with a genetic predisposition to recovery. In other words, they are not responding to what the rest of us would call “treatment.” When a patient says, “I don’t want to go to AA,” or “I’m not ready to stop using,” most people might shrug and ask, “Then why are you here?” The answer would usually be, “Because I don’t know what else to do.” But that doesn’t tell the whole story.

Some of these people had plenty of options. They could have tried cognitive therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), medication-assisted therapy (MAT), or motivational enhancement therapy (MET). But these therapies were just as ineffective for them as AA was. It wasn’t their genes that were the problem; their therapists’ skills. Besides being pretty good at treating mental illnesses, evidence-based therapies can also be used to help people clean up their drug and alcohol addictions.

Therapists, counselors, pharmacologists, and other medical professionals use a variety of treatment modalities to help people stop using alcohol or drugs. With the right therapy, it’s possible to achieve long-term sobriety. While there are many different types of drug treatment available, each has its pros and cons. Evidence-based therapies are the most promising way to improve the lives of addicts. So much so that some researchers have even estimated that for every dollar spent on evidence-based addiction treatment, we get about $7 back in benefits from reduced crime, fewer criminal convictions, and fewer incarcerations.

Five Most Effective Alcohol and Drug Rehab Therapies:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT): CBT helps patients identify and change inaccurate thoughts that lead to addictive behaviors. In more severe cases, CBT can be used with pharmacological treatments. CBT helps people identify their thoughts and beliefs about drugs, which often keep them from using them to manage stress. CBT helps people reduce their alcohol or drug use by challenging these thoughts and opinions.
  • Motivational enhancement therapy (MET): MET involves increasing patients’ motivation to remain abstinent, which helps them take responsibility for their health. It means developing a healthy lifestyle or taking part in a Narcotics Anonymous group for some people.
  • Extinction therapy. Extinction is similar to deep muscle relaxation; it’s a technique that trains patients not to crave substances like alcohol or drugs. Patients learn how to calm themselves down when they feel the urge to drink or use drugs so that they can resist temptation without acting on it.
  • Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT): DBT is a type of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) that Marsha Linehan designed for people with severe mental illnesses such as borderline personality disorder. DBT helps people learn specific skills for handling intense emotions, improving relationships with others, tolerating distress, and developing a more positive outlook on life.
  • Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) focuses on getting clients to accept their thoughts, feelings, and experiences rather than trying to change them or push them away. ACT also helps people develop psychological flexibility, which means being able to act in the service of their values even when they experience complex thoughts or emotions. It can help people let go of unhelpful thoughts and behaviors to act in ways that support their long-term goals—even if those goals don’t involve complete abstinence from alcohol, drugs, or other substances or behaviors they want to reduce.

What works in therapy? That seems like a simple question, but, unfortunately, getting an evidence-based treatment is not so easy. There are several different evidence-based therapies for treating alcohol and drug use disorders. While the strategies for treating these disorders may seem familiar to those with previous experience with addiction and substance abuse, you must understand how these programs work and what makes them effective. The goal here is to provide you with choices so that you can explore all of your available options when it comes time to choose the best course of action for you.

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Christopher Stern
Christopher Stern is a Washington-based reporter. Chris spent many years covering tech policy as a business reporter for renowned publications. He has extensive experience covering Congress, the Federal Communications Commission, and the Federal Trade Commissions. He is a graduate of Middlebury College. Email:[email protected]

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