The Role of Psychotherapy in Alcohol Addiction Treatment

Four types of approaches...

Alcohol use disorder is a recognized psychiatric illness. It is very important to understand and address the underlying psychological factors that this condition finds its roots in. In many cases there are concomitant psychiatric illnesses that are associated with and/or contribute to alcoholism. Thus, psychiatric care is an integral component of the treatment of alcoholism at Daylight Recovery. This involves careful assessment by an MD experienced in psychiatric illnesses, followed by a skilled psychotherapist or counselor who addresses their needs for counseling and behavioral therapy.

There are a variety of psychological and social strategies for treating drug and alcohol addiction, and the best solution is the one that is designed with the patient’s needs and condition in mind. One size does not fit all in this case.

Psychotherapy encompasses a variety of interventions with a set of goals in mind, including providing a safe and trustworthy forum in which addicts can discuss their issues and problems, and teaching specific coping skills for managing them, promoting personal empowerment and feelings of self-worth and belonging, providing a place where people can make friends and give and get interpersonal support, providing a parental-style figure who gives authoritative guidance as needed, providing a model and personal experience of what trustworthy relationships look like, among others.

There are four types of psychotherapeutic approaches designed for these patients:

  • Supportive psychotherapy - focuses on providing patients with a safe, comfortable, non-judgmental and trustworthy forum where they can discuss any of the issues they may be facing personally or socially. The patients are encouraged to talk openly about their challenges and share their emotions. The counselors provide support and constructive input on how they may better handle their situation and address their issues.
  • Coping-focused psychotherapy - focuses on teaching patients ways to practically cope with mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety, etc. There is a special focus on substance abuse relapse prevention. Cognitive behavioral therapy is the most commonly applied technique in this category. Dialectical behavioral therapy is a variant of CBT that teaches behavioral skills to help patients handle stress, manage emotions, and improve their relationships with others
  • Acceptance and commitment therapy - focuses on helping patients become aware of and accept their thoughts and feelings and commit to making changes, increasing their ability to cope with and adjust to situations.
  • Psychodynamic and psychoanalysis therapy - focuses on increasing patients’ awareness of unconscious thoughts and behaviors, developing new insights into their motivations, and resolving conflicts.
  • Interpersonal psychotherapy - focuses on helping patients mature emotionally and socially in their dealings with others. Addiction is often associated with interpersonal challenges and addicts are often resorting to a self-destructive way of life.
  • Exploratory psychotherapy - focuses on uncovering the links between past experiences and present behavior. It often involves recalling painful past events, it can be disturbing and disorganizing, so one needs to be careful when dealing with sensitive issues. This approach can be useful in treating many anxiety and trauma-based disorders if executed properly.
  • Mentalization-based therapy (MBT) - may prove beneficial to patients who suffer with borderline personality disorder (BPD) as well as an addiction, as it helps people to understand their thoughts and those of others, differentiating between them and helping them to have a better sense of self and self-actualization.

Hence there are various strategies to address these patients’ conditions and their underlying challenges. They can be incorporated in the recovery and rehabilitation programs and used to effectively address and solve them and that can speed up the recovery process and help with long term abstinence.


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