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Addiction is a complex psychiatric and psychological illness that affects multiple areas of a person’s life. The UK, in particular, seems to have the highest incidence of drug misuse among all European countries, with around one-third of its population using mood-altering substances of any type at least once in their lives.

Regardless of the addiction type, its treatment requires individualised modalities and interventions that eradicate the root cause of the disease while addressing its symptoms and effects on different areas of an individual’s life. These areas include their physical and mental health, their ability to socialise in public, and the consequences of their addictive behaviours at home, school, work, or with the law.

Fortunately, multiple types of addiction therapy are readily available and easily accessible to people in the UK to control the prevalence and mortalities related to addiction. This article will highlight some of the most common alcohol and drug addiction therapy types, their benefits, and their implications.

Behavioural therapies are crucial to addiction recovery as they help individuals recover by modifying their behaviours and attitudes regarding drug use. Moreover, these therapies give them incentives to practice sobriety while improving their life skills so they can better face challenging situations, cravings, and triggers.

While there are various types of behavioural therapies approved for managing addiction, some of the most effective ones include:

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

Cognitive behavioural therapy or CBT works on the core principle that addiction and other psychological problems result from negative learned behaviours, harmful thinking patterns, and unhelpful coping strategies. It aims to change these negative behaviours and practices by teaching people how to identify and reevaluate them more realistically. Moreover, CBT also equips people with problem-solving skills to deal with difficult situations while developing self-efficacy and self-confidence. Instead of focusing on the past, this therapy emphasises the present and works for a better future. 

It is common to be plagued by negative thinking patterns due to chronic addiction. These thinking patterns make it hard to call it quits and attain sobriety. Moreover, they also contribute to other mental health problems that often co-occur alongside addiction, such as depression and anxiety. Instead of feeling powerless because of these mental health disorders, CBT helps people address the negative feelings leading to self-destructive behaviours, like addiction and supports them as they adopt healthier ways to think and act in daily situations without using substances.

Mentioned below are some benefits of utilising CBT as a part of addiction therapy:

  • It is goal-oriented and focuses on the present
  • It allows the therapists and clients to work together to recognise and address negative thinking patterns
  • It is beneficial in both individual and group settings
  • It helps clients learn healthy strategies to fight day-to-day cravings and triggers for addiction
  • It equips clients with practical skills that they can easily apply to daily life

Contingency Management

Contingency management is another popular type of behavioural therapy for addicts that involves rewarding them for every positive change they implement in their lives. It follows the principle that applying positive reinforcement promotes a specific behaviour, such as sobriety in this case. Some common examples of positive reinforcement used in contingency management therapy include vouchers or prizes for negative drug tests. Some benefits of using this therapy as a part of drug addiction therapy include the following:

  • It increases the retention rates for most types of addiction treatment programs
  • It improves the likelihood of long-term sobriety post-treatment
  • It is helpful for people belonging to a broad age bracket
  • It can be used as a standalone treatment method and with other addiction therapies like CBT as well
  • Most insurance providers cover this treatment plan because of its high efficacy and low risks

Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy

Rational emotive behaviour therapy or REBT is a type of addiction therapy that works similar to CBT. It helps individuals recognise negative beliefs and thought patterns contributing to self-defeating behaviours like addictions. However, the critical difference between the two modalities is that REBT focuses more on the individual’s belief system and attempts to replace the irrational ones with those based on logic. Some benefits of taking help from this therapy for overcoming addiction include the following:

  • It encourages clients to take responsibility for how they behave and feel in response to a particular situation
  • It helps them learn how to acquire realistic and healthier expectations of themselves, others, and the world
  • It enables them to learn the importance of self-acceptance and practice it every day
  • It helps them learn how to identify negative feelings without feeling compelled to overcome them by using alcohol or drugs
  • It allows them to keep track of their irrational thoughts that potentially lead to negative behaviours

Motivational Interviewing

This is a counselling method in which the counsellor attempts to motivate clients to practice and maintain sobriety by identifying their intrinsic values and motivations and focusing their treatment on them. Instead of forcing themselves to change, motivational interviewing helps people battling addictions find a desire to call it quits. During this treatment therapy, the counsellor forms an alliance with the addict based on collaboration and mutual trust. Moreover, motivational interviewing also gives clients the power to make choices for themselves, which evokes an internal change in them to promote lasting recovery. Some expected benefits of incorporating into addiction treatment include the following:

It increases the retention rates for addiction treatment programs

It maximises client participation in treatment

It minimises the risk of relapses

It motivates the clients to make personal changes for long-term sobriety

It helps clients set self-actualisation goals 

Family Therapy

Family or couples therapy is routinely incorporated into every comprehensive addiction treatment program to address the main problem and all other issues related to the interconnected relationships within families. The concept behind this therapy is that their family relationships and vice versa somehow influence every action or behaviour of an addict. Hence, it involves all family members of the addicted individual and allows them to work together to improve their relationships. It also encourages the family members to make positive changes in the home environment to ensure continued abstinence.

Mentioned below are some reasons why seeking family therapy is crucial for overcoming addiction:

  • It keeps all loved ones engaged and motivated throughout the treatment
  • It helps family members acquire skills to cope with their loved one’s addictive behaviours
  • It gives people a safe place to express their feelings, voice their concerns, and ask questions, if any
  • It helps relieve feelings of fear, stress, confusion, or anger among family members
  • It improves intra-family communication

In addition to behavioural therapies mentioned above, most drug and alcohol addiction therapy UK programs include the following modalities:

Medication-Assisted Therapy (MAT)

Medications play a crucial role in multiple addiction treatment protocols when combined with behavioural therapies. They also ease cravings and manage uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms from benzodiazepines, alcohol, opioids, and other drugs. Some commonly used medications in MAT include:

  • Methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone in opioid addiction treatment
  • Disulfiram and acamprosate in alcohol use disorder
  • Naloxone for opioid overdose treatment

Experts may prescribe additional medications for symptomatic support during withdrawals. Moreover, they may also be used to address co-occurring ailments alongside addiction.

Holistic and Alternative Therapy

Many holistic and alternative therapies can complement the standard addiction therapies listed above. Though these therapies act as a substitute, they can significantly promote recovery through managing stress and improving overall well-being. Some of these therapies include:

  • Exercise to reduce stress, release negative emotions, and regulate body weight
  • Meditation to positively impact depression, anxiety, and overall health in people fighting addictions
  • Yoga to release physical tension, reduce stress, and make a person more peaceful, more assertive, self-aware, and physically fit
  • Massage to reduce physical tension or overcome stress without using any mood-altering substance
  • Experiential therapy, such as equine-assisted therapy, for improving clients’ engagement in treatment and their likelihood to comply with it and finish the program. Experiential therapy also helps them feel valued, capable, emotionally supported and accepted.

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