Types of Therapy for Addiction

Types of Therapy for Addiction

Over the years, mental health professionals have developed several types of therapy for addiction disorders and recovery. This development has helped a large number of people with a wide range of addiction disorders.

In this article, we’re taking a closer look at the various types of therapy for addiction.

Types of Therapy for Addiction

The first step toward recovery involves realizing that you have an addiction problem. Once that realization is obtained, the next steps involve deciding what to do about it. When deciding upon the treatment program that will best assist you in reaching your goal of sustained sobriety, it is helpful to be armed with some information about the types of treatment that are offered.

As a rule, most substance abuse treatment programs will contain a mix of group and individual therapy sessions. The purpose of this mixed approach has to do with the importance of approaching recovery as an overall lifestyle change. While both types of therapy have benefits, you may find that you prefer one approach over the other.

Here are several types of therapy for addiction recovery …

Group Therapy

Isolation is an enemy when it comes to recovery. Group sessions provide the opportunity to form bonds with others who understand your addiction struggles and to receive support from those who have walked a similar path. Encountering the perspectives of other people can help in generating new ideas, and group interaction can strengthen communication skills.

Individual Therapy

As beneficial as social interaction can be in regard to developing a sense of belonging and place in the world, some people will find that their problems are better addressed in the privacy and confidentiality of individual sessions. The preference for individual therapy is likely to be even more apparent for individuals who are considered to be introverts. Someone who has an introverted orientation toward life will feel drained while interacting in social groups and will feel free to explore the factors contributing to addiction while in a one-on-one setting with a counselor or therapist.

Addiction Therapy Orientations

Just as your specific situation and individual personality bends will dictate your enthusiasm toward participation in group or individual therapy, your personal preferences will have an impact on your choice of therapy modality. While substance abuse treatment programs are always expanding in knowledge and technique, there is also something to be said about the longevity and success rate of the tried-and-true methods. The following are just a few of the types of therapy approaches you are likely to find available for addiction treatment.

12-Step Programs

When most people think of substance abuse treatment, the idea of the 12-Step program comes to mind. This approach toward sobriety has been around for nearly a century and has gained many enthusiastic supporters over the decades. The success of 12-step programs is so touted, that many courts of law even require participation in it as a condition of probation or parole. While it was initially designed to assist with ending alcohol addiction, it has since evolved to address all manners of addiction, including drug addiction, love & sex addiction, and gambling addiction.

The basic tenants of a 12-Step program involve learning how to be honest with self and others, developing the courage to take responsibility, forming healthy relationships, and becoming an actively contributing member within the community. Due to the accountability and social support factors prerequisites in the approach, most 12-step programs place a heavy emphasis on group meetings.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) has been the gold standard for individual and group therapy treatments for several decades. The premise of CBT rests on the idea that we all carry around a set of beliefs, and these beliefs prompt us to operate in certain ways. A CBT therapist will work with an addicted client to uncover the types of beliefs that feed into self-destructive behaviors and will assist the client in applying logic and rational thinking toward effective problem-solving.

Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy

The popularity of Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy (REBT) faded within the psychological community as appreciation for CBT increased, but it is still considered to be an effective approach for many clinicians. Unlike with CBT, this approach considers that interconnected emotions play a large role in how we decide to behave. Negative thoughts create negative feelings, and escape from negative feelings is often what tempts a person toward using addictive substances. An REBT therapist will help the addicted person to develop self-acceptance and will teach a client to direct emotions in a more effective way.

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) was initially designed to assist those living with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) to learn new ways of approaching life. Individuals with BPD traits tend to have difficulty finding a sense of self-worth, and this poor sense of self can result in making poor life choices. DBT for addiction treatment involves a high level of interaction between the client and treatment team, during which the client will learn to tolerate uncomfortable feelings without resorting to the escape of drug or alcohol use. A student of DBT will learn how to accept the current reality, and accept that change is possible.

Motivational Interviewing

The approach of Motivational Interviewing involves creating an atmosphere of acceptance and validation, while simultaneously working to discover where an addicted person’s beliefs and perspectives are not actually lining up with the substance use behaviors. This style of therapy is well suited for clients who like to find solutions on their own, by talking things out with a savvy listener and aren’t as interested in being directly confronted about the need to change behaviors.

Existential Therapy

For more philosophical types, Existential Therapy may be the way to go when seeking relief from addictive impulses. As implied in the name, this type of therapy places emphasis on a person’s perspectives on the meaning of life. Rather than focusing on the behaviors associated with addiction, directly, an existential therapist will work toward helping a client to create a life narrative that contains meaning and promotes self-growth. The underlying idea behind this approach is that, when we live out our true purpose in life, our desire to engage in self-destructive thoughts and behaviors automatically decreases.

Medication Therapy

To achieve lasting results, medication therapy for addiction is best used in conjunction with other forms of recovery therapy. There are many types of prescribed medications available, and the benefits range from alleviating symptoms of withdrawal, decreasing cravings and urges to use a substance, and mitigating the effects of mental health disorders on the tendency to use drugs or alcohol. While not considered a permanent solution, applying proper medications during the initial stages of recovery can help to reduce the difficulty level of making it over those first few hurdles.


Mental health professionals will often different types of therapy for addiction treatment depending on the person. For the best results, patients will start with an initial consultation in order to learn more about the patient and decide which type of addiction therapy is best.

If you, or someone you love, would like to learn more about therapy for addiction, contact The Heights Treatment today.