Lifetime Therapy: Why It’s Essential
08/28/19: Addiction RecoveryIf you’ve finally made it through detox and your first 90 days of treatment, congratulations. And if you haven’t made it through, or perhaps you haven’t begun detox but have made the decision to get clean, congratulations to you as well! Each step in the journey towards lifetime sobriety is not an easy one to take, and each comes with its own set of obstacles and challenges. At any stage of the process, you may begin wondering what the future holds for you. You may fear relapsing. This is completely normal, and actually a very good thing. If you find yourself worrying about staying sober in the future, that’s a sign that you are committed to a lifetime therapy program of staying clean. You don’t want to go back to using, you want to heal. This mindset is exactly what will help you get — and stay — sober for life. But you shouldn’t have to rely on mindset alone. Once addiction takes hold, it becomes a lifelong battle to fight the urge to use again. And while it does get much easier as time goes on, there will always be that temptation. Not to mention, if you are also struggling with mental health issues due to, or caused by, addiction, staying on the right track can be even harder. This is why lifetime therapy is essential to maintaining sobriety.
Addiction and Mental IllnessWhen one is diagnosed with a mental illness and substance abuse disorder, they are referred to as co-occuring conditions. Essentially: two psychiatric diagnoses occurring at the same time in someone’s brain. According to multiple national population surveys, about half of those who experience a mental illness during their lives will also experience a substance abuse disorder, and vice versa. Some of the most common co-occurring mental illnesses are:
- Generalized anxiety disorder
- Panic disorder
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Bipolar disorder
- Attention-deficit disorder (ADHD)
- Psychotic illness
- Borderline personality disorder (BPD)
- Antisocial personality disorder
Why counseling is beneficial to those with substance abuse disordersAddiction runs much deeper than on a physical level. Yes, the chemistry of the drugs can have an effect on the brain’s overall chemistry which helps a person become addicted, but scientists have now discovered that it’s not the only cause. Substances aren’t the only things that cause addiction. Think about it: it’s possible to also become addicted to things like shopping, gambling, pornography, etc, which create a shift in the chemical balance of the brain despite not contributing any sort of chemicals to the body (Harvard Health Publishing). This shows that it’s not necessarily the chemicals within substances themselves that cause addiction, but rather the way the brain’s reward center is stimulated. Because of this, an essential part of recovery is tackling these mental blocks so that you may begin training your brain to no longer be dependent on the substance. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) outlines several principles of addiction treatment based on data the organization has collected for the past 40 years. These principles aim to improve the odds of success in treatment by ending (or moderating) drug use, lowering the risk of relapse, and allowing the person with an addiction to be successful in a lifetime of sobriety. These principles include things such as:
- Addiction is a multifaceted problem, but one that can be treated effectively.
- Treatment should be directed to the individual person rather than to their drug(s) of choice.
- Treatment can be helpful even if the client initially goes involuntarily. (Eventually, the client's voluntary participation in treatment will influence their recovery path.)
- Medications can be an important part of treatment to address drug abuse or the mental health aspects underlying substance use.
- Counseling and behavioral therapies are highly utilized and the best available treatment options for drug abuse.
Common Types of Therapy for Substance Abuse DisorderCognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) CBT trains a person on how to recognize moods, thoughts, situations, and circumstances that lead to giving in to your drug cravings. Your therapist will teach you methods of combating the cravings and avoid the triggers. You will learn how to replace negative thoughts with healthy ones that will help you continue to stay clean. The skills you will learn through CBT will last you a lifetime, making it an extremely powerful treatment method. Contingency Management Therapy This method provides positive incentives to stay clean. Vouchers for goods and services, extra privileges in treatment, etc. Motivational Interviewing Motivational interviewing is a counseling method that aims to help people uncover the internal motivation that they need to change their behavior, and tackle insecurities and obstacles holding them back in their recovery. 12-Step Programs The 12-Step Program was founded by Alcoholics Anonymous, a global, community-based program created to help those struggling with alcohol addiction. People in the program are guided by the support of their peers through daily meetings and discussions surrounding addiction.
Why you should continue attending therapy regularlyCounseling does a number of things. It:
- Addresses flaws in thinking and teaches the person to productively modify them
- Helps the person combat negative thoughts and behaviors
- Provides coping methods and skills
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