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Medically Reviewed

What Therapies Are Used to Treat Addiction?

- 8 sections

Medically Reviewed: July 7, 2022

Medical Reviewer

Sahil Talwar, PA-C, MBA


All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

Millions of people in the United States live with an addiction to drugs or alcohol. Addiction can wreak havoc on a person’s life and cause severe harm to their health and safety. With high-quality, comprehensive treatment, people can recover from addiction and learn to manage its symptoms for life.

A key component of recovery is treating the root cause of substance abuse and addiction. For example, many people abuse drugs and alcohol because they are trying to cope with trauma, buried emotions, depression, anxiety, or mental health issues. Addiction treatment therapies exist to address the underlying cause of addiction and teach you how to embrace healthy coping skills that support sobriety.

Addiction treatment centers use a variety of different therapies to treat addiction. Learning about these therapies can help you understand what to expect during treatment and how rehab can help you achieve sobriety.

If you or someone you love require substance abuse or addiction treatment, reach out to the specialists at Charlotte North Carolina Detox today.

Understanding Addiction

Addiction occurs when a person’s body becomes dependent on a substance and can develop after a period of prolonged or heavy drug or alcohol use. It is also characterized by many behavioral patterns, such as compulsive drug use and risky behaviors. Therapy is required to overcome these behaviors, replace them with healthy behaviors, and prevent drug and alcohol relapse.

Several factors make it more likely that a person may develop an addiction to drugs or alcohol. These include genetics, mental illness, trauma, early substance use, and socioeconomic factors. However, anyone who uses drugs or alcohol regularly is at risk of developing an addiction.

Addiction affects every aspect of a person’s life and can lead to significant harm to a person’s mental and physical health, relationships, financial health, and safety. Some signs of addiction include:

  • Needing more of the substance to get the desired effects
  • Facing legal or financial trouble related to substance use
  • Being unable to perform basic daily tasks–shopping, cooking, hygiene, cleaning, paying bills, etc.
  • Continuing to use drugs or alcohol despite adverse outcomes
  • Experiencing an accident or illness related to substance use
  • Wanting to stop using but being unable to do so
  • Having withdrawal symptoms if they stop or reduce their substance use
  • Isolating from friends and family
  • Losing interest in other hobbies, activities, and relationships
  • Spending a lot of time thinking about, obtaining, using, or recovering from drugs and alcohol
  • Being unable to perform well at work, in school, or responsibilities at home

People who live with addiction require comprehensive addiction treatment that can address the physical, emotional, and behavioral aspects of their addiction.

Effective Addiction Therapies Used During Treatment

Because addiction is not simply a physical condition, it is not adequate to treat only the physical aspects of addiction. To have the best chance of lifelong recovery from addiction, people must also receive treatment for the emotional and behavioral components of addiction. Effective, comprehensive addiction treatment utilizes various therapies to help people address their addiction’s underlying causes and develop healthy coping skills to manage the condition.

Several types of addiction therapies are commonly used in substance abuse treatment programs. These include:

1. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a form of talk therapy used to treat mental health conditions and substance use disorders. In CBT, people learn how to identify destructive thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors. With a trained practitioner, people can better understand their thoughts and motivations, as well as others. They learn to interrupt negative thought patterns that can lead to substance use. Many treatment programs utilize CBT because it is goal-oriented and can be used in a time-limited setting.

2. Contingency Management (CM)

Contingency management uses a reward system to motivate people to meet certain milestones in their recovery journey. Sometimes, the rewards are tangible: movie tickets or gift cards for a clean drug screen or a prize for reaching a certain number of weeks of sobriety. In other cases, the therapist may encourage a person to focus on the intangible rewards of sobriety, such as improved relationships and better health.

Using contingency management has been proven to increase treatment programs’ retention and promote better treatment compliance.

3. Motivational Interviewing (MI)

Motivational interviewing can help people stay engaged in treatment by focusing on their internal motivation for staying sober. Practitioners ask a series of questions to identify a person’s reasons for overcoming addiction. This information can help the treatment team adapt the treatment program to the patient’s intrinsic goals. The client understands their treatment to be a collaboration and that their input is valuable.

4. Family Therapy

Addiction does not only impact the lives of the person living with it. Family members and friends may also experience emotional, social, financial, and physical effects of their loved one’s substance use as well. Family therapy can be a valuable tool used during and after treatment because it helps people identify and heal destructive patterns, roles, and behaviors that are common when a family member lives with addiction.

5. 12-Step Facilitation

During treatment and in recovery, people may attend 12-step meetings. These meetings are commonly offered through local chapters of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), although some other treatment facilities may use this model. Many people benefit from having access to a supportive, non-judgmental peer community and developing a relationship with a supportive sponsor.

Most addiction treatment facilities utilize these addiction therapies to help people recover from addiction. In addition to participating in these therapies during treatment, people may continue to use them to help them stay active and engaged in recovery afterward as part of their aftercare plan.

Get Help Now

At Charlotte Detox Center, we help you detox and get through the withdrawal process safely so you can put the physical symptoms of addiction behind you and fully engage in addiction therapies. If you or someone you love requires addiction treatment, reach out to the Charlotte North Carolina Detox specialists today.