Addiction Therapy: What are the Therapies Available for Addiction?

Last Updated: February 1, 2024

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Addiction therapy can help someone struggling with substance abuse learn about the root of their addiction and find tools they can use to work toward recovery.

Addiction is a complex disorder that can take over every aspect of someone’s life. It can also be complicated to treat, as there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to the addiction recovery process. Fortunately, there are numerous ways to find lasting recovery, especially with evidence-based approaches like addiction therapy. Addiction therapy has many different modalities and options, and understanding the various types of therapy treatment can help you find an option that works well for you or a loved one.

Why Seek Therapy for Drug Addiction?

While there are many different types of treatment for addiction, therapy is one of the most beneficial options. For someone who is suffering from addiction, therapy can be a helpful way to learn better coping mechanisms, become aware of triggers and create a plan to maintain sobriety from substances. 

Common types of therapy include cognitive behavioral therapy and dialectical behavioral therapy, which can take place in group or individual settings. Therapy is a great place to establish support for someone with an addiction. Individual therapy can provide insight into one’s addiction and create strategies for avoiding substance use in the future. 

Group therapy provides a unique experience where people struggling with addiction can provide mutual support and advice to one another, building a sense of community in recovery. 

Counselor vs. Therapist for Addiction

Counselors and therapists may sound like the same thing, but when it comes to addiction, they have two different roles. A counselor is a professional who is trained in psychology, social work or another medical field. They perform patient evaluations, support clients during treatment and provide education and resources. Through counseling, a counselor addresses a specific problem and provides interventions to help a situation in the moment. 

A therapist or psychotherapist is a professional who is trained to provide therapy to a client for mental or physical disorders. Therapists also specialize in specific issues, but they look beyond what is happening in the moment. Therapists look at the “why” of an issue and think of how they can create solutions.  

When treating addiction and substance abuse, it’s important to look at where someone is in their recovery and what kind of support might be needed to help them. A therapist may be more beneficial during initial treatment, when someone is looking into why they have an addiction and what triggers there may be in the future. A counselor can help someone as they continue to recover and need support in specific moments or in cases of relapse.

Therapy Modalities

There are several common treatment settings for addiction therapy, including individual, group, family and couples therapy. Teletherapy services can also allow people to receive accessible mental health and addiction care from the comfort of home.

Individual Therapy

Individual psychotherapy is an important part of addiction therapy. Individual therapy can help someone get to the root of their addiction and create healthy coping mechanisms to replace addictive behaviors. Individual therapy can also provide a safe space for someone to open up and receive support without judgment.

Group Therapy

Group therapy gives clients the opportunity to learn and practice new coping mechanisms and communication skills. It also allows people in recovery to get support from others who are going through the same thing. Addiction can be very damaging to interpersonal relationships, and a group setting can help someone relearn how to form healthy relationships with others.  

Family Therapy

Addiction can cause a lot of tension and stress in relationships, especially if a person has stolen from family members or engaged in other destructive behaviors that affect their loved ones. Family therapy is a structured and safe place for family members to address their concerns with the person who is engaging in addiction-related behavior. A therapist can also help families rebuild trust and improve communication to help support someone in their recovery. 

Couples Therapy

Couples therapy is a useful tool in treatment, as addiction can be very hard on a relationship. Couples therapy can help a partner learn how to support their addicted loved one, as well as how to draw boundaries with that person. In couples therapy, a therapist acts as a neutral third party who can help support both partners while teaching them how to work toward a healthier relationship.

Addiction Therapy Options

There are many different treatment modalities for addiction therapy. Determining which option is the best will depend on the individual and their unique needs in treatment.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) 

CBT is a type of behavioral therapy that focuses on changing thoughts and feelings, which will lead to a change in negative behaviors. For addiction, CBT can help someone become aware of the situations, or triggers, that lead them to engage in addictive behaviors. This can allow them to learn to cope with these triggers in a healthier way. 

Contingency Management

Contingency management, also known as motivational incentivizing, is when positive reinforcement or a reward system is used to help someone avoid engaging in addictive behaviors. Someone may use a reward, such as a new item of clothing, a trip or an experience, for hitting certain sobriety milestones. 

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)

DBT uses the opposing ideas of change and acceptance. This approach encourages a patient to stop using substances but also accept that setbacks can occur. Patients are able to feel supported during their sobriety journey but also have an end goal of stopping all substance use. 

Motivational Interviewing

Motivational interviewing uses a client’s motivation for treatment and tries to capitalize on that desire for change. Motivational interviewing assesses the client’s desire for recovery, and a therapist helps to support and motivate the client to continue wanting to change. Those who suffer from addiction may have issues self-motivating for treatment, so motivational interviewing can be a helpful step toward recovery. 

Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT)

Rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT) works to help someone identify rational versus irrational thoughts and feelings. REBT also recognizes that someone may turn to negative coping mechanisms, such as addictive behaviors, in response to negative situations or feelings. REBT can help someone distinguish their irrational thoughts from the truth and work to avoid using negative coping mechanisms in response to a negative situation. 

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)

Many studies have found people with addiction also have a higher rate of childhood trauma. People with childhood trauma may develop PTSD and therefore have a more complicated recovery process. Trauma can interfere with skills necessary for addiction recovery, and EMDR helps replace negative images and feelings of a situation with a more positive thought to help desensitize that memory. 

Trauma-Focused Therapy

Trauma is a common factor in people who struggle with addiction. Trauma-focused therapy works to understand the connection between someone’s trauma and their maladaptive behaviors. Trauma-focused therapy can help someone create a healthier emotional response to their trauma and not need to engage in addictive behaviors as a coping mechanism. 

Recreational Therapy

Recreational therapy is used to promote a better overall well-being through play. Recreational therapists use different activities to help clients develop a greater sense of life satisfaction. When someone is struggling with addiction, the other areas of their life can be neglected. Recreational therapy can help bring back a sense of normalcy and is an activity outside of their addiction that they can enjoy. 

Nutritional Therapy

Substance abuse can affect metabolism, hunger cues and overall nutrition. Someone with an addiction may have deficiencies due to poor nutrition. It can be difficult to distinguish hunger cues from substance cravings, and someone may have neglected their nutrition in order to afford or obtain drugs or alcohol. Nutrition counseling helps restore a balanced diet and improve overall physical health, which are both crucial for recovery. 

12-Step Programs

A 12-step program is a mutual self-help program that many people with addiction benefit from. These programs are an accessible and affordable support for those with addiction, and they provide a community for people in recovery to engage in. This engagement also provides a wide range of experiences that can be beneficial to someone who is working to stay in recovery. 

Matrix Model

The matrix model is an incredibly structured program primarily for stimulant abusers. This program includes individual and group therapy, relapse prevention, family involvement and a strong focus on improving a patient’s self-esteem and value in life. 

How Effective Is Drug Addiction Therapy?

For drug addiction recovery to be effective, clients should be evaluated on an ongoing basis rather than immediately after initial treatment. Ongoing evaluation allows therapists and counselors to help clients maintain their sobriety and reduce the risk of relapse throughout recovery. 

Although preventing relapse is the ultimate goal, it’s important to keep in mind that relapse is a natural part of drug addiction treatment, and a relapse does not mean that a person has failed in recovery. According to NIDA, drug addiction has a 40% to 60% rate of relapse. Those who have a well-rounded treatment plan that includes medication and behavioral therapy have the best chance of staying in recovery. 

Finding The Right Addiction Therapy For You

Everyone has their own unique needs when it comes to addiction therapy. The good news is that there are many different options that can help. 

Therapy will be a part of any level of addiction treatment, but depending on a person’s treatment needs, varying levels of care may be needed. There is inpatient treatment, which involves staying at a facility 24/7 for a specific amount of time. Addiction therapy is a crucial step of inpatient treatment that helps someone identify the root of their addiction and what their triggers may be. 

Outpatient treatment and intensive outpatient programs offer more flexibility. These may be more appropriate for someone who has a better understanding of their addiction or has already completed inpatient treatment. Therapy at this level will continue to explore a person’s issues with addiction and help them develop healthier coping mechanisms to implement into their daily life. Addiction therapy is also available in long-term aftercare programs, which can include individual and group counseling, 12-step programs and teletherapy. 

If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, The Recovery Village Cherry Hill at Cooper can help. Our fully equipped treatment facility is staffed with licensed professionals who provide comprehensive treatment and addiction therapy options for all levels of care. Contact us today to learn more about addiction treatment programs that can work well for your situation. 


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