With better weather and more vaccines, the U.S. has entered a new – and hopefully final – phase of the COVID-19 pandemic. Still, the effects of this pandemic are far-ranging and ever-present. In addition to those we’ve lost from the virus, the past 16-months of lockdowns, mandates, and closures have affected us all in one way or another.

To cope with all this loss, many turned to drugs or alcohol. According to a recent Nielsen Report, alcohol sales for the week ending March 21, 2020, increased 54 percent over the previous year. Similarly, 75 percent of Americans reported drinking more during COVID-19 lockdowns.

And it wasn’t just Americans who turned to substances to help them through these troubled times. Researchers in England and Wales found alcohol-related deaths in the U.K. grew by 20 percent in 2020 over the number in 2019.

Additionally, a recent Canadian survey reported a significant increase in the use of both alcohol and cannabis during the pandemic. Respondents reported 30 and 35 percent increases in alcohol and cannabis use, respectively.

Clearly, the pandemic has affected many of our relationships with drugs and alcohol, not just in the U.S., but across the globe. That’s why I will use this article to tell you what substance abuse is, how it’s treated, then detail some of the most-used substance abuse treatments.

What is Substance Abuse?

Substance abuse is the repeated harmful use of any substance, including drugs and alcohol. These substances can be prescriptions, illicit drugs, or even substances not classified as drugs.

Click here to learn more about how a substance abuse counselor can help you.

What are the Types of Substance Abuse Treatment?

There are many types of treatments counselors can use to help you overcome your substance abuse issues. Below are nine of the most commonly used types of substance abuse treatment.

1.) Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive Behavior Therapy is a form of psychological treatment used for various issues. Including alcohol and drug use. CBT works to help patients learn how to identify and change destructive or disturbing thought patterns that negatively influence behavior and emotions.

Essentially, CBT treatment attempts to change thinking and behavioral patterns. These strategies may include:

  • Identifying Negative Thoughts
  • Practicing New Skills
  • Goal-Setting
  • Problem-Solving
  • Self-Monitoring

One of the most vital benefits associated with CBT is it helps patients develop coping skills that are useful in the present and the future.

2.) Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

Dialectical behavior therapy is a form of CBT that addresses thoughts and behaviors while incorporating psychological strategies like emotional regulation or mindfulness. The main goals of DBT are to teach people how to be present, develop healthy ways to cope with stress, better regulate emotions, and improve relationships.

Techniques often used in DBT include:

  • Group and Individual Therapy
  • Core Mindfulness
  • Distress Tolerance
  • Interpersonal Effectiveness
  • Emotional Regulation

DBT is easily customizable, so therapists can use it to address a variety of needs, including substance abuse or addiction issues.

3.) Contingency Management (CM)

Contingency Management is a form of behavioral therapy. In contingency management, therapists use motivational incentives and tangible rewards to help a person abstain from a substance. Primarily, mental health professionals use contingency management in conjunction with a substantive therapy method, like CBT.

The main tenet behind CM is that a person is more likely to repeat positive, healthy behaviors if those behaviors are rewarded. Research shows this positive reinforcement can help patients increase abstinence, remain in rehab, and improve participation in recovery.

4.) Motivational Interviewing (MI)

Motivational Interviewing is a therapeutic technique used to motivate a patient to change or alter a harmful behavior. MI is often used to treat addiction or substance abuse. Ideally, a therapist uses MI to help facilitate change by overcoming ambivalence or a fear of change by increasing the client’s motivation.

Many individuals who deal with substance abuse or addiction hold conflicting emotions about their substance abuse/addiction. MI works to help resolve this ambivalence. There are five stages of change patients will experience during MI therapy. These stages are:

  • Precontemplation
  • Contemplation
  • Preparation
  • Action
  • Maintenance

Essentially, Motivational Interviewing helps patients reduce substance abuse by increasing that individual’s intrinsic motivation while moving through these five stages.

5.) Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT)

Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy is a form of psychotherapy designed to help patients identify self-defeating thoughts and feelings, challenge the rationality of those feelings, and replace them with healthier and more productive beliefs.

REBT is based on the theory that we are typically unaware of our deeply embedded thoughts and how they affect us daily. There are three guiding principles to REBT, known as the ABCs:

  • Activating Event
  • Beliefs
  • Consequences

Through these ABCs, patients can identify their negative thought patterns – a key to letting them go – and work to rewire these thought patterns.

6.) Matrix Model

The Matrix Model is a method of therapy designed to treat substance abuse. This form of psychotherapy is specifically designed to help stimulant abusers (e.g., methamphetamine or cocaine). Through the Matrix Model, patients learn about issues vital to addiction and relapse and receive direction and support from a therapist.

Created in the 1980s, the Matrix Model is known for its integrative approach. Being integrative means the Matrix Model utilizes certain aspects of several beneficial treatment styles, including:

  • CBT
  • Motivational Interviewing
  • Behaviorism
  • Family and marriage therapy
  • Group therapy
  • 12-step programs

Studies have shown participants treated using the Matrix Model demonstrate statistically significant reductions in drug and alcohol use. Additionally, these patients reported improvements in psychological indicators and reduced risky sexual behaviors associated with HIV transmission.

7.) 12-Step Facilitation

Twelve-step facilitation therapy is one of the most well-known forms of substance abuse therapy. This form of therapy is designed to increase the likeliness of the patient becoming affiliated with and active in 12-step self-help groups – such as Alcoholics Anonymous.

As the name says, there are 12 distinct steps a person must complete in 12-step facilitation therapy. While each of these steps is essential for full recovery, three primary ideas dominate 12-step treatment. These key ideas include – (1) Acceptance, (2) Surrender, and (3) Active Involvement in 12-step meetings and related activities.

8.) Community Reinforcement and Family Training (CRAFT)

Community Reinforcement and Family Training works to increase compliance with an intervention for persons with substance abuse. This increase in family compliance helps boost the rate of engagement of the addicted individual in treatment.

CRAFT has had proven success in helping substance abusers reduce their use and enter into treatment. Additionally, CRAFT works to improve the likelihood treatment success by teaching friends and family how to better communicate with their addicted loved ones.

9.) Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)

Medication-assisted treatment is exactly what it sounds like. MAT is the use of medications – in combination with counseling and behavioral therapies – to provide a holistic approach to substance abuse treatment.

MAT not only works to treat substance abuse issues but can also assist sustained recovery. This modality is primarily designed for treatment of addiction to opioids. MAT has been shown to:

  • Improve patient survival
  • Increase retention in treatment
  • Decrease opiate use
  • Increase patients’ ability to gain/maintain employment

Which Substance Abuse Treatment is Right for You?

Like most mental health issues, substance-related disorders and addiction affect each person differently. So, your substance abuse counselor must provide individualized treatment as well. Additionally, over time, your substance-related needs will change, so your treatment plan should change too.

If you’re interested in substance abuse therapy but don’t know where to start or have further questions, contact a Compassionate Minds therapist. Our team of licensed experts is equipped to help you through most substance-related issues. All our therapists are licensed substance abuse counselors.

At Compassionate Minds, we work with each of our patients to create an individual treatment plan that works best for you at a time that’s most convenient for you.

About the Author Betsy Mayfield

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