Addiction is a multilayered condition that requires a multifaceted approach to effectively treat it. This improves the odds of success in treating the addiction so that the patient can abstain (from drug use), lowers the risk of relapse, and allows them to rebuild their lives.

These multifaceted approaches are what we are referring to as therapies. They range from medication therapies to behavioral therapies and counseling to allow the person to regain balance in life.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) does not single out any one approach that is appropriate for all.

No matter the therapy applied, it is usually directed to the individual person rather than the habit.

With so many different types of therapies, it can be confusing and overwhelming to determine which forms of treatment to use, how they differ, and which one is best suited for you or your loved one.

Types of Addiction Treatment Therapies

Below are some forms of treatment therapies for addiction:

  • Behavioral Therapy
  • Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
  • Community Reinforcement and Family Training (CRAFT)
  • Contingency Management
  • Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)
  • Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy (EMDR)
  • Integrative Approach
  • Motivational Interviewing
  • Multidimensional Family Therapy
  • Person-Centered Therapy
  • Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT)

Behavioral Therapy

Behavioral therapy seeks to examine unhealthy addiction behaviors that are harmful by identifying underlying conditions that promote and harbor these unhealthy choices.

In substance use for instance, the existence of drugs is what promotes the unhealthy behavior. Even with negative outcomes as a result of drug use, the person still values the effects of using the drug above the negative consequences.

A behavioral therapist uses particular interventions to address the unwanted behaviors including educating the patient on their behaviors and eventualities. The therapist and client seek to collaborate on developing a plan that will encourage and uphold behavior change.

The person is also taught to identify the undesirable behavior and work backwards to understand how it was triggered in the first place, so they can avoid it in future.

Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) encompasses behavioral therapy, but also goes further to seek to understand the addict’s thoughts and feelings that fuel their addiction. Simply put, CBT not only looks at behaviors, but also takes feelings and thoughts into consideration when administering treatment. In this way, the therapist is able draw out the negative thinking patterns that cause the addict to act in certain unhealthy ways.

For example, someone who believes “everything must go right; all the time, everywhere” has a distorted mental outlook, and will believe that their life is falling apart if it is not perfect. They find it hard to understand that perfection cannot always be achieved and this exposes feelings of hopelessness, depression and being overly negative. CBT helps them relearn and accept reality.

Contingency Management

Contingency management is typically used for alcohol, stimulants, opioids, marijuana, and nicotine addicts where the patient is awarded for abstaining. In this way they get a tangible reward for accomplishing a desired behavior. The reward helps to build new behaviors e.g. voucher-based reinforcement. This is where the patient gets a voucher as reward for negative drug tests or prize incentives where patients get a prize for attending treatment.

Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy

Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) seeks to understand the addict’s worldview that ultimately dictates their behavioral patterns that yield unhealthy psychological issues. From there, the therapist is able to work with the patient to rectify some of these, sometimes unrealistic thinking patterns.

Some irrational beliefs such as “I MUST get what I want at all times” or “I MUST get all or nothing” are dealt with. Therapists use the ABC Model to combat these defective beliefs.

The therapist works with the client to recognize and challenge the defective belief(s) and replace them with new beliefs grounded on reality and logic.

Dialectical Behavioural Therapy

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) is also influenced by CBT. DBT closes the gap left by CBT when treating clients with unclear personality disorder and prolonged self-injurious behaviors like suicide attempts or self-mutilation.

DBT believes that mental health issues arise as a result of a combination of emotional susceptibility/weakness and invalidating environments. DPT therapy seeks to validate and accept patients by encouraging them to move in more beneficial directions.

Since its inception, DBT has been found to be effective in managing mental health issues such as:

  • Anxiety-related disorders
  • Eating disorders
  • Depression and bipolar disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Substance use disorders

To achieve results, DBT uses a specialized treatment that utilizes the 4 skill-building modules: mindfulness, distress tolerance, interpersonal effectiveness and emotional regulation to replace eroded self-worth.

Person-Centred Therapy

Person-centered believes that ultimately people can resolve their own problems when given a supportive environment, acceptance and unconditional positive esteem. The therapist takes a back seat as the patient takes an active role in their own recovery.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is treatment for trauma essentially to help those with symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

An interesting factor of EMDR is the eye movement used during treatment. The therapist asks the client to track the therapist's fingers as he moves them randomly back and forth. This helps the patient to access parts of their brain to reprocess information. The therapist may also use sounds or touches to help the patient regain touch with reality eroded by drug abuse.

Family/Community-Based Treatments

Family/community-based treatments are based on the premise that the person did not exist in a vacuum. They were part of a wider family and community setting. It explores people’s need for individuality as well as the need to belong in a group. It interrogates the patient’s history of substance use through a multi-generational assessment. It identifies relationships that may cause the patient to relapse or respond better to treatment. All this information aids in designing an appropriate treatment plan.