Many people mistakenly believe that addiction is purely a physical problem—that once the source of the drug is taken away and the cravings subside, the addiction is over. But dependency issues are much more complex. There are powerful psychological and emotional factors underlying addiction: your emotional state, environmental stressors, and patterns of thought all play a role. Unless these are addressed and remedied, your chances of relapse are high, even if you haven't touched your drug of choice for years. 

This is why therapy and counseling play such a vital role in the addiction rehabilitation process. Detox—the process of purifying the body of all remaining drug residues and toxins—is only the initial step. The goal isn't just to help the patient stop using drugs—it's also to help them create a positive lifestyle without the need of drugs and to regain functionality within their community, family, and workplace.

There are several different types of therapy in which a patient undergoing drug rehabilitation may find useful. 

  1. Cognitive behavioral therapy has found success in treating a wide variety of mental and emotional obstacles associated with cancer, physical or emotional trauma, grief, relationship conflicts, mental illnesses, anxiety, sexual disorders, schizophrenia, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), among others. It is also used to treat issues associated with substance abuse disorders. True to its name, cognitive behavioral therapy helps you to become cognizant of the ways in which your behavior, thoughts, and emotional state impact your decision-making. Negative trains of thought, self-doubt, and other unconstructive ideas wear down your resistance to drugs or alcohol. Using cognitive behavioral therapy, your therapist teaches you to nip these bad behaviors in the bud before they can negatively impact your habits or decisions. Through CBT, your therapist teaches you how to make better and more deliberate decisions while responding to stress in constructive ways. 
  2. Multidimensional family therapy is targeted towards adolescents with substance abuse issues but is also used in a variety of adult institutions as well. Administered as an outpatient or partial hospitalization (PHP) program, MDFT seeks to help troubled individuals develop healthier and more constructive coping strategies when dealing with cravings, and endeavors to teach them problem-solving and decision-making skills, similar to cognitive behavioral therapy. MDFT, however, involves the entire family. Therapists use the principles of MDFT as a toolbox for improving the function and dynamic of the family as a whole, not only addressing the substance addiction problem at hand but circumventing other such issues which may arise in the future. 
  3. Motivational interviewing allows therapists to take a proactive role in your recovery. First created to treat chronic drinkers, MI uses the patient's own motivation as a factor in their recovery. It does this in four ways: engaging, wherein your therapist and you discuss issues, concerns, hopes, and other personal topics, thereby establishing trust; focusing, wherein you and your therapist will settle on a list of behaviors or habits that you want to alter; evoking, wherein your therapist will instill in you a sense of importance about these desired changes; and planning, wherein you and your therapist will discuss concrete steps you can put into effect to start changing. 
  4. Motivational incentives is a seven-part plan which uses positive reinforcement to help you speed on your way to your sobriety goals. When you pass certain milestones in treatment, you'll be rewarded for your good behavior. The seven principles of motivational incentives are: 
    • Target Behavior: This is the identification of a problem behavior which needs to be changed. The behavior must be both measurable and observable. With regards to drug rehabilitation, the target behavior is the alteration of the pattern of drug abuse, negative thinking, and obsessive behaviors which define addiction. 
    • Target Population: Each group of patients is different, and a standardized one-size-fits-all reinforcement plan won't help everyone. Therapists must identify subgroups or portions of the population who will benefit most from motivational incentives. 
    • Reinforcer: This is one of the most crucial elements of the motivational equation. Patients may be surveyed to discover what the most satisfying reward for good behavior may be. Some examples of rewards include greater access to the clinic's facilities and privileges; prizes; and/or vouchers for internal or external services. 
    • Magnitude: Related to the discussion of reward and reinforcement is the question of how much reinforcement to provide. Again, the choice of target population plays a role here. The patient's past and present drug abuse intensity, the presence of any antisocial personality disorders, the patient's history of failure or success in rehab, and their own signature response to reinforcement should all be taken into account by the therapist and rehab center staff. 
    • Frequency: Another factor involved in incentives is frequency: how often should rewards be given out? The schedule of reinforcement depends on the target behavior, available resources, and the amount of desirable clinical presence in the patient's life. 
    • Timing: This is an imperative factor in successful treatment. To be effective, reinforcement must follow the display of target behavior in a timely manner. You, as a patient, should be rewarded promptly for showing your therapist that your intentions are good and that you are pursuing your sober goals. 
    • Duration: The span of treatment should be long enough that you, as a patient, internalize the lessons you learn in therapy and counseling and are able to apply them to everyday life once you leave the rehab center. Short-term treatments lasting only a few days to two weeks are generally inadequate to help you get over a severe addiction. A good rule of thumb is that the longer a treatment period lasts, the better chance you have of making a complete recovery. 
  5. Therapeutic communities are a time-tested and familiar form of drug rehabilitation therapy. In groups, people who are recovering from drug or alcohol addictions will share their experiences with others and discuss the circumstances which led them to begin abusing substances in the first place. These communities are often residential but outpatient therapeutic communities are now becoming more commonplace. Practical activities and group psychotherapy help to build a sense of comradeship and communion between members. Sharing experiences brings people closer together and lets them know that they're not alone in their fight against addiction. Finally, the therapist's role is to help the patients determine precisely which factors led them to abuse drugs or alcohol so that they may be forewarned and forearmed against them.

If you have questions about any aspect of therapy or if you or your loved one is addicted to a substance and needs help, call our friendly operators at (877) 257-7997 today.