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Treating drug and alcohol addiction is a complex challenge. Puzzling it out has been the goal of countless research efforts worldwide, not to mention the life’s work of thousands of scientists. As a result, a plethora of theories and treatment methods are now implemented in what the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) estimates are over 13,000 specialized rehab facilities in America.
It is clear that one size does not fit all. Just like other chronic and progressive diseases, substance abuse disorders can be treated with a myriad of approaches. To learn five reasons you can trust in established methods, read on.
#1 – The Eggs Aren’t In One Basket
When you receive help from facilities that rely on multiple methods, you build your recovery on a more solid foundation. People who put all of their hope in a single recovery method and, subsequently, relapse could lose hope that they can achieve sobriety at all. In fact, experts with the American Psychological Association say that even those who find a method that suits them perfectly should supplement with bits and pieces from other approaches. They maintain that using a variety of recovery strategies and tools – not just one – is a powerful way to avoid relapse.
#2 – They Are Backed By Science
The most common approaches to treating addiction are backed by scientific evidence. Their “gold standard” status has been hard won through years of research. While holistic methods such as art therapy or music therapy may be beneficial, to date no evidence supports belief that they actually lower the risk of relapse.
#3 – Time is Ticking
People who have squandered years on addiction, robbed of everything from their health to their relationships in the process, often feel eager to get on with their lives once sobriety hits. That means they do not generally want to sign on for years of therapy guided by principles that, while perhaps enjoyable, do not have proven payoffs. Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) is one that involves addicts in the solution early on. Time-limited and goal-focused, CBT rests on the principle that thoughts change feelings and behavior. This core concept holds particular promise for struggling addicts, say NIDA experts, since substance-abuse disorders result from negative learning processes. CBT maintains that identifying and correcting problem behaviors is a strategy powerful enough to overcome addiction.
#4 – Your Emotional Rollercoaster Needs Brakes
Dialectic Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a specific form of CBT that emphasizes interactions with others. According to DBT theory, some individuals react more intensely to emotional situations than the average person, especially situations that arise with family members, friends and lovers. On average, they are more emotionally volatile — and harder to calm down. This emotional state holds particular danger for addicts, say therapists writing for Psychology Today. Addicts are people who numb negative emotions with drugs or alcohol instead of facing them or coping in healthy ways. Learning to tolerate distress can help them get sober and validate uncomfortable thoughts, feelings and behaviors instead of fighting them.
#5 – Motivation Must Come From Within
Proven methods are empowering. Instead of becoming reliant on a therapist, most proven methods seek to equip you with the tools to counsel yourself. Motivation must come from within — not from external figures. That’s the goal of motivational interviewing (MI): to help addicted individuals see the negative effects of substance abuse so they can make wise decisions. Members of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration say that core principles of MI therapy include the following:
- A person’s level of motivation — no matter what it is — is a good starting point for change
- Change can only happen in a climate of negotiation, not conflict
- The therapist’s job is to help individuals recognize discrepancies between their behaviors and personal goals
Through the MI method, people who struggle with substance abuse can recognize differences between where they are in their lives and where they hope to be.
One way to view established treatment methods is by comparing it to a meal. Science-based methods should be your main course — your vegetables and meat. But a diet based only on the basics can taste bland. Spices and treats keep things interesting. The same also holds true for recovery. Build your recovery around a solid centerpiece but leave plenty of room for variety, too. Some people achieve sobriety through proven scientific models, but others say they couldn’t stay sober without holistic help. Most recovery experts recommend a blend of both, especially in light of a study supported by the American Psychological Association that shows that having a greater variety of coping strategies correlates with long-lasting sobriety.
Help for Addiction
If you or an individual you love struggles with addiction, you are not alone. Admissions coordinators at our toll-free, 24-hour support line can guide you to wellness. You never have to go back to a life of addiction. Please call. Start your recovery today.