People who experience an addiction are suffering from a clinical condition. This chronic and progressive brain disease affects them both physically and mentally.1 The structure and function of the brain is altered through repeated exposure to drugs or alcohol. Addiction also affects the way people perceive themselves and the world around them by negatively interfering with mental processes. Utilizing psychiatric therapy in addiction treatment may positively impact the physical and mental healing process.
Comorbidity occurs when a person has two or more illnesses. It is most often used to describe coexistent illnesses where there is some interaction between the conditions, such as mental health and addiction. Compared to the general population, mental illness is diagnosed twice as often in people who suffer from addiction to drugs or alcohol. Conversely, those who suffer from addiction are more likely to develop other coexisting mental illnesses.2
Because addiction affects mental processes, treatment must not ignore this aspect of the illness. Psychiatric therapy, or psychotherapy, plays a critical role in helping people to recover from their illnesses.
There is no single form of psychotherapy that works for everybody. Some therapies may work better for teenagers and adolescents than for adults, and vice versa. Evaluating an individual’s needs is a crucial step in designing a treatment plan. Similarly, therapeutic treatments must be tailored to an individual’s specific needs.
Therapy may be offered one-on-one or in a group format. The benefits of group therapy include attendees being challenged and supported by other participants who are experiencing similar situations.
Types of Psychiatric Therapy in Addiction Treatment
Cognitive behavioral therapy is one of the most widely used psychiatric therapies. During CBT, people learn to identify situations, emotions, moods and thoughts that make them think about taking drugs or alcohol. By understanding these triggers, people with substance use disorders may have the opportunity to avoid them.
It is generally not possible to avoid all triggers, so CBT also teaches people better ways to cope with them. Using drugs or alcohol as a solution to any problem is a type of negative behavior often motivated by negative thinking. During CBT, people learn to identify and prevent negative behaviors and replace them with positive behaviors.
Motivational interviewing is a form of therapy in which a trained therapist will work to identify an individual’s motivations for change. Once these motivations are identified, the therapist works with the individual to draw up an action plan to achieve the desired goals. Setting attainable and identifiable goals is a key element to this therapy.
Family and couples therapy can also be used to help people stay sober. People who abuse substances are sometimes genuinely unaware of the impact their behavior has on those they love. Likewise, families or partners may struggle to understand the problems a person suffering from addiction is dealing with. Family and couples therapy teaches relatives how best to deal with their loved ones in recovery, and it helps all family members develop healthier ways of communicating.
Giving people who suffer from addiction the support and care they need to get better greatly enhances their prospects of remaining in recovery. The various forms of psychiatric therapy available can help to do just that.