A Guide to the Most Effective Addiction Therapy Options

Since there are several types of addiction treatment therapies available, finding the most effective approach can be a challenge. The best place to start is by understanding the scope of therapies as well as what’s almost always at the root of addiction.

What Are the Most Common Addiction Treatment Therapies?

As you’re researching types of addiction treatment therapies, some of the most common therapies you’ll come across include:

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy

Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) is a highly personalized type of addiction treatment. Addiction is often driven by the experience of unpleasant emotional states that an individual is unequipped to cope with in a healthy way. CBT gets to the root of the issue by providing the opportunity to hone emotional regulation skills.

To accomplish this, DBT teaches and reinforces grounding techniques that can be useful for anyone struggling with addiction as they encounter triggers in daily life. By first helping individuals identify emotional states, thoughts, or memories within themselves that are fueling addictive tendencies, they can then respond to them in a productive way instead of continuing to feed the cycle or relapsing.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) offers an extremely structured approach to treatment and recovery. This type of addiction treatment helps individuals in recovery learn healthier behaviors by gaining a better understanding of their thoughts patterns so they can then improve them.

For individuals who are struggling with addiction but are otherwise leading successful lives, a lack of structure can ultimately fuel the cycle of addiction. When someone is used to a highly structured environment like in a corporate setting or on set when filming, a sudden lack of structure in their life can become a trigger for addiction. When that’s the case, the structured approach of CBT can be vital to recovery.

Relapse Prevention Therapy

When someone struggles with addiction, they should constantly be working on relapse prevention, but as a focus form of therapy, it can help individuals find answers to complex questions like:

  • What are high-risk situations that might increase chances of relapse?
  • What are common steps that lead up to relapse?
  • Who or what in the environment might be increasing the likelihood of relapse?
  • How can you work on better navigating those situations?

While relapse prevention never ends, relapse prevention therapy helps an individual live their lives while productively handling the circumstances in their lives that would otherwise lead to drinking or using again.

Couples and Family Therapy

Couples and family therapy is almost always a vital component of an effective addiction solution and often starts as soon as someone begins treatment. Even when someone is ready to get help with addiction, they often aren’t able to recognize or understand how it affects the people around them. Couples and family therapy provides a safe space for everyone to share their perspectives and how their life is impacted by the addiction. At the same time, it can show partners and family members what they can do differently to support their loved ones in healthy ways.

Addiction is ultimately a family disease. When a loved one is in recovery, couples and family therapy becomes critical. As the individual begins to live a healthier life, the family often tends to look sicker. The seemingly helpful behaviors they may have been engaging in can actually feed into the cycle of addiction. When that’s the case, partners and family members need the opportunity to improve, especially in situations of codependency. Focused couples and family therapy helps loved ones work on and improve themselves so they can support recovery in a productive way.

ALYST provides a collection of resources for individuals in recovery as well as the people who care about them.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy

Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) is a type of addiction treatment that helps individuals remove the emotional response underlying a memory that may be triggering an addiction. Traumatic memories are commonly at the root of an addiction as drinking or using becomes a way to deal with those painful memories and emotions.

While the memories never go away, EMDR helps individuals separate their emotions from the memory so they can encounter those memories without triggering the emotions that might cause them to drink or use again. EMDR can be powerful for certain individuals, but it’s not always recommended since it can potentially put someone in an extreme emotional state if they aren’t ready. Because of this, EMDR is generally incorporated into treatment during the latter stages of recovery when and if someone is ready to approach the trauma underlying an addiction.

Trauma-Informed Therapy

All of the above incorporate a level of trauma-informed care into an individual’s therapy plan, but focused options like somatic therapy can be particularly effective for someone whose addiction is rooted in traumatic experience. Somatic therapy introduces the idea that our bodies “hold” trauma somewhere, and that by practicing certain breathing and movement exercises, an individual can learn to better regulate their emotional states, including those they may experience when remembering or reliving trauma.

Other Therapy Options

While all of the above therapies can be practiced in an individual, one-on-one setting with a private therapist, some people may also benefit from trauma-informed group therapy like psychodrama. Psychodrama therapy provides a safe place for individuals in recovery to act out and work through trauma by roleplaying and reprocessing memories with others who may be struggling with similar issues.

Which Treatment Option Is the Best?

Are you wondering which type of addiction treatment option above is the best? If so, keep in mind that addiction therapy needs to be individualized since everyone responds to therapy in different ways. What proves effective for one person may be counterproductive for someone else, and a cookie cutter approach rarely works.

However, when someone is struggling with addiction, one common theme is that they’re also dealing with trauma on some level. As a result, trauma can be used as a baseline for individuals dealing with addiction, but not everyone is willing to deal with it. The most effective types of addiction treatment, then, are those that best help someone encounter and heal the trauma at root of the addiction in healthy, productive ways. What that looks like is going to look different depending on the individual’s history, addiction, environment, and lifestyle.

Is ALYST’s Concierge Approach Right for You?

At ALYST Health, we provide a concierge approach to addiction recovery that’s tailored to the person you care about with a fully at-home treatment model. If you know someone who hasn’t found success in a residential treatment setting or has privacy concerns, learn more about our approach or explore if ALYST is a good fit.