Therapy Used In Addiction Treatment Programs

Medically Reviewed by Johnelle Smith, M.D. on May 27, 2022

There are a variety of individual, group, and family therapies commonly used to treat drug and alcohol addiction. Therapy can serve as an important component of a full treatment plan for drug or alcohol use disorder.

Therapy Used In Addiction Treatment Programs

Substance abuse and addiction can affect all areas of a person’s life, from physical health, to your mental health, home life, and overall well-being.

Addiction therapies and drug counseling are evidence-based treatments for addiction, and are commonly offered as part of a full inpatient or outpatient drug treatment program.

Here you’ll find information about:

  • therapies used to treat addiction
  • benefits of addiction therapy
  • where to find addiction therapy

Why Is Therapy Used To Treat Drug Addiction?

Drug counseling and behavioral therapies are evidence-based treatments for drug and alcohol use disorder, which affect millions of individuals and families in the United States.

Addiction is more than just a physical health condition, or solely one affecting the brain. Addiction can affect your mood, physical health, and cognitive health.

Therapy for addiction can offer emotional benefits, psychological benefits, cognitive benefits, as well as teach supportive skills for a life in recovery from drug abuse.

Uses of addiction therapy include:

  • expanding your set of healthy life skills
  • modifying attitudes towards drug use
  • treating co-occurring mental health disorders (e.g. depression)
  • teaching skills for managing stress and triggers in recovery

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Types Of Therapy For Drug Addiction

Addiction is a complex disease. Over the course of decades, treatment providers and researchers have identified several therapies that can be effective for treating drug and alcohol abuse.

There are a variety of different therapeutic modalities. Here are some of the most common therapies used in addiction treatment programs:

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is one of the most common behavioral therapies used for the treatment of substance abuse and mental health disorders.

This therapy can help you recognize and avoid triggers, as well as teach coping skills for managing urges to use drugs of abuse in addiction recovery.

Read more about cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for addiction treatment.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is a form of behavioral therapy that focuses on acceptance and promoting positive changes in behavior.

It was originally designed for the treatment of borderline personality disorder, but it is commonly used today for treating a variety of substance use and mental health issues.

Read more about dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) for addiction.

Motivational Interviewing

Motivational interviewing (MI) is a modality that focuses on strengthening personal motivation for recovery and making positive changes in behaviour.

This is a collaborative treatment between a counselor and a person with an addiction that can be tailored to meet the individual needs of the addicted individual.

Read more about motivational interviewing for addiction.

Contingency Management

Contingency management is an incentive-based treatment for addiction that offers certain incentives, such as monetary vouchers, for meeting certain milestones in the treatment process.

Although controversial, this treatment is evidence-based. It has shown to help promote abstinence from drugs, particularly illicit drugs like meth and cocaine.

Read more about contingency management for treating addiction.

Group Therapy

Group therapy for addiction refers to any group-based therapy. This is commonly offered in addiction treatment facilities and community settings.

Group therapies, including group CBT and DBT, can offer several benefits, including peer support, inspiration for recovery, accountability, and a sense of community.

Read more about group therapy for drug or alcohol addiction.

Family Therapy

Addiction is commonly referred to as a family disease that can affect and be influenced by the entire family unit, particularly within the immediate family.

Family member involvement in the treatment process can help support recovery by healing relationships, family issues, and helping foster a healthy home environment.

Multidimensional Family Therapy

Multidimensional family therapy is a specific model for family therapy designed for teenagers with substance use issues and their families.

This type of therapy is used to help improve overall family functioning within the home and thereby foster a safe, healthy, and supportive home environment for the entire family unit.

12-Step Facilitation Therapies

The 12-step model for addiction is a therapeutic method utilized by self-help groups like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA).

This is an abstinence-based model with 12 steps for achieving addiction recovery. This model typically opposes maintenance treatment (which is evidence-based) for alcohol and opioid use disorder.

Learn more about 12-step programs for addiction treatment.

Matrix Model

The Matrix model is an evidence-based treatment for stimulant addiction (e.g. cocaine addiction) that focuses on achieving and sustaining abstinence.

This treatment model may involve:

  • talk therapy
  • drug testing
  • drug education
  • self-help participation

Within this model, a counselor works with people who have an alcohol or drug addiction to promote positive changes in behavior, self-esteem and self-worth.

Learn more about the Matrix model for addiction treatment.

Eye Movement Desensitization And Reprocessing (EMDR)

Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing, or EMDR, is a type of psychotherapy for treating trauma and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

This therapy uses bilateral stimulation to help people process traumatic events, or other forms of trauma that are common among people with a substance use disorder.

Learn more about EMDR therapy for addiction.

Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy

Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy (REBT) is an action-oriented behavioral therapy that focuses on helping you manage irrational thoughts, beliefs, and emotional distress.

This can teach coping strategies for managing thoughts or emotions about yourself, and the world around you, as a healthy alternative to substance misuse for coping purposes.

Learn more about rational emotive behavioral therapy for addiction.

Trauma-Informed Therapy

A trauma-based approach to therapy will be rooted in understanding the connection between a traumatic event and the behavioral or emotional response of the person experiencing the event.

During trauma-informed therapy, clients will learn how to process the memories tied to traumatic experiences, as well as coping strategies.

Learn more about trauma-informed therapy for substance use treatment.

Holistic Therapies

Many drug rehab programs offer holistic therapies, such as art therapy and mindfulness training, as part of a well-rounded approach to addiction treatment programming.

Holistic therapy can effectively serve as a supplement to conventional treatments for addiction, such as medication-assisted treatment, clinical care, and behavioral therapy.

Learn more about holistic therapies for addiction.

Benefits Of Therapy For Alcohol And Drug Addiction

Decades of research show there can be a number of mental health and quality of life benefits for using therapy to treat the misuse of addictive substances.

Some of the benefits of therapy for drug addiction include:

  • encourages people to stay in treatment
  • can address underlying causes of drug dependence or addiction
  • can help prepare people for challenges in early recovery
  • teaches coping skills
  • can help you manage cravings and withdrawal symptoms
  • helps to reduce the risk of relapse

Different types of therapy can also offer different benefits.

For many, therapy can support a well-rounded approach to addiction treatment, in addition to other medical and vocational services offered in rehab.

Where Do You Find Therapy For Drug Addiction?

Addiction therapies are offered at multiple levels of care, including inpatient settings, outpatient counseling centers, as well as in community settings.

Where you can find therapy for addiction:

Which Addiction Therapies Are Offered In Rehab Programs?

Not all rehab centers or drug counselors offer the same types of addiction therapy.

The type of therapy offered in a rehab program may depend on:

  • the rehab center’s core philosophy
  • evidence-based therapeutic offerings
  • specialty treatment offerings (e.g. dual diagnosis)
  • type of rehab program
  • specialties of the treatment staff

Insurance Coverage For Addiction Therapy

How to pay for addiction treatment is one of the most common questions people and their families have when seeking help for a drug or alcohol problem.

The good news is that many health insurance plans offer some level of coverage for evidence-based treatments, including addiction therapies, with some caveats.

Insurance coverage for addiction therapy may depend on:

  • type of insurance plan
  • your insurance provider
  • deductible requirements
  • in- or out-of-network requirements
  • specialist referral requirements
  • setting in which therapy is received (e.g. inpatient or outpatient)
  • patient diagnosis

Information about insurance coverage for addiction therapy can generally be found within your insurance plan, or by contacting your insurance provider directly.

You can also contact us online or by phone to speak to a specialist to verify your insurance coverage for substance abuse treatment.

What Other Methods Help Treat Substance Abuse?

Addiction therapy by itself is not a comprehensive treatment for alcohol or drug addiction for all people. It is typically offered as a single component of a full treatment plan.

What your treatment plan will look like may depend on the drug you’re addicted to, as well as any other physical or mental health conditions.

Treatment for addiction commonly involves:

  • medical detoxification (detox) services
  • medication-assisted treatment (MAT)
  • self-help support groups
  • psychiatric services
  • nutritional therapy
  • relapse prevention
  • case management
  • addiction education
  • HIV/AIDS services (as needed)
  • aftercare programs

Addiction treatment options may also include sober living arrangements following an intensive rehab program, as well as employment assistance or other social services.

Addiction Therapy FAQs

Find answers here to frequently asked questions about therapeutic interventions for substance abuse and addiction.

Studies show psychotherapy can be an effective treatment for substance use disorders and mental health issues.

Behavioral therapies like CBT, for instance, are an evidence-based treatment for addiction to opioids, alcohol, and other common drugs of abuse.

There is no single treatment that is “the best” for every person. What works for someone can vary from one person to the next, depending on your personal needs for treatment.

Common therapies for drug addiction include cognitive behavioural therapy, group therapy, individual drug counseling, and family therapy.

Therapy may be a part of most addiction recovery programs. Inpatient programs typically require a number of hours of therapy for every week in treatment.

Therapy, including group and family therapy, may be the largest component of any outpatient program.

Even medication-assisted treatment for alcohol and opioid use disorder require therapy alongside medication to treat addiction.

Find Therapy For Drug And Alcohol Addiction

Overcoming an addiction to drugs or alcohol is possible with a strong support system and the right treatment program.

To find a rehab program for yourself or a loved one that offers addiction therapy, call our helpline today to speak to one of our treatment specialists.

This page does not provide medical advice. See more

Addiction Resource aims to provide only the most current, accurate information in regards to addiction and addiction treatment, which means we only reference the most credible sources available.

These include peer-reviewed journals, government entities and academic institutions, and leaders in addiction healthcare and advocacy. Learn more about how we safeguard our content by viewing our editorial policy.

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Medically Reviewed by
Johnelle Smith, M.D. on May 27, 2022


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