Drug Abuse & Dependence
By Sheilah Davis
Image Source: FreeImages
The use of drugs and alcohol is a common occurrence in today’s society. The harmful consequences associated with drug and alcohol abuse—from petty crimes and car accidents to relationship problems, employment issues, and criminal activity—are well known. However, there is an increasing body of evidence that shows the benefits of psychotherapy for drug abuse and dependence. The effectiveness of psychotherapy in treating drug abuse depends on many factors specific to that individual client as well as the type of psychotherapy being used. Generally speaking, evidence suggests that therapies involving cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), interpersonal therapy (IPT), family therapy, or supportive counseling are more effective than therapies involving psychoanalysis or other types of talk therapy. Additionally, research suggests that certain types of psychotherapy are best for different populations. This article discusses the major benefits of psychotherapy for drug abuse and dependence, including how it can help with cravings and addiction recovery.
Psychotherapy for drug abuse and dependence
Psychotherapy for drug abuse and dependence consists of a series of sessions with a mental health professional. This type of treatment may be useful for several different reasons. First, it can help people who are trying to stop using drugs/alcohol as well as people who are struggling with cravings. Psychotherapy can help people develop coping strategies and techniques to manage cravings and increase feelings of satiety so they are less likely to want to use drugs/alcohol. Second, psychotherapy can help people address issues that may have contributed to their drug/alcohol use in the first place. People may begin therapy if they are trying to cope with or address issues such as stress, anxiety, relationship problems, or issues with sexuality. Some people may begin therapy to address other issues such as low self-esteem or feelings of depression. During therapy, mental health professionals typically examine how drug/alcohol use fits into the person’s life and how it affects the person and those around them. They also typically help the person examine negative thoughts about themselves or others and replace them with more positive ones.
Major benefits of psychotherapy for drug abuse and dependence
– Helps with cravings and addiction recovery: People who are undergoing psychotherapy are likely to show fewer cravings and experience fewer relapses than people who don’t seek treatment. Psychotherapy can help people identify and overcome cravings and is a crucial part of the addiction recovery process. – Better targeted treatment: While some people may be able to benefit from one-size-fits-all treatment approaches, most clients will need to be treated with a specific approach. During psychotherapy, people have a better opportunity to address and work through issues that may have contributed to their drug/alcohol use. – Improved self-esteem and confidence: Psychotherapy can have a significant impact on a person’s self-esteem and confidence. Feeling that you are worthy of treatment and that you can cope with issues in your life is an important step toward recovery. – Less risk of suicide: Many people who have thoughts about killing themselves when they are using drugs/alcohol experience an acute sense of hopelessness and despair. Psychotherapy can help people gain a better understanding of these feelings and less likely to act on these thoughts. – Improved relationships and more productive activities: Over time, many people who are undergoing psychotherapy start to develop deeper and more meaningful relationships. They may also find more productive activities to occupy their time. – Better health: Some studies have suggested that people who undergo psychotherapy for drug abuse and dependence are more likely to adopt healthy habits and lead a healthier lifestyle than people who don’t receive treatment. – Less psychological disorders: Some research suggests that people who are undergoing psychotherapy for drug abuse and dependence are less likely to experience psychological disorders later in life than people who don’t seek treatment. – Fewer medical problems: Psychotherapy can improve a client’s communication skills, which can have a significant impact on a person’s health outcomes. For example, people who are in treatment for substance abuse may be more likely to seek medical attention when they are sick. – Fewer arrests: Some studies have shown that people who undergo psychotherapy for drug abuse and dependence are less likely to be arrested again than people who don’t receive treatment. – Fewer emergency department visits: People who are receiving treatment for substance abuse are less likely to visit the emergency department than people who don’t receive treatment. This may be due to the fact that people who are undergoing therapy are more likely to be engaged in recovery activities. – Fewer deaths: Some studies have shown that people who undergo psychotherapy for drug abuse and dependence are less likely to die than people who don’t receive treatment.
How does psychotherapy help in drug abuse and dependence?
Psychotherapy helps people address issues that may have contributed to their drug/alcohol use, including issues related to stress, anxiety, relationship problems, and low self-esteem. In addition, it can help people identify and overcome cravings and develop coping techniques that are less likely to result in use in the future. Lastly, psychotherapy can help people gain a better understanding of the feelings of hopelessness and despair that may accompany addiction. With this knowledge, they are less likely to act on those feelings and are more likely to engage in recovery.
How long does psychotherapy take in drug abuse and dependence?
Most people who receive psychotherapy for drug abuse and dependence will be in treatment for between 6 and 12 weeks. Some people may need more sessions than others, depending on their individual needs and progress. There are also some people who may need to receive treatment more than once. Once a person identifies a specific issue that may have contributed to their drug/alcohol use, that person can continue to work through that issue during each session.
Limitations of psychotherapy in drug abuse and dependence
While psychotherapy can be an effective treatment for many people struggling with drug abuse and dependence, it is not a substitute for responsible behavior. People who engage in risky behavior (such as using drugs and/or alcohol) while they are undergoing psychotherapy are still responsible for that behavior. This can be a difficult thing for some people to accept, especially when they begin to experience positive benefits from treatment. People who are in psychotherapy may find it difficult to hear the message that “no, you are not responsible for your cravings, but you can learn ways of coping with them”. These people may be tempted to “give up” on treatment, which can have serious consequences.
Now that you understand the many benefits of psychotherapy for drug abuse and dependence, you can choose the best type of treatment for your needs. If you or someone you know is struggling with drug abuse, please do not ignore the problem. Instead, contact an interventionist who can help you get the treatment you need.
You don’t have to face life challenges alone.
Schedule a session now and gain the support needed to guide you toward wholeness and provide you with the tools you need to overcome your difficulties and thrive.
- Are you feeling overwhelmed by the challenges of life?
- Do you struggle with anxiety or depression?
- Are your relationships suffering due to communication issues?
- Do you struggle with addiction or compulsive behaviors?
- Are you experiencing a major life transition, such as a divorce or job loss?