Updated: Aug 18, 2021
Physical or Psychological Treatment?
Addiction is defined as substance abuse that persists despite the individual’s knowledge of the negative consequences of their actions. From a medical standpoint, many people interpret addiction as being purely physical; however, the reality is far more complex. Substance use disorders have diverse and complicated driving factors that include physical, emotional, mental, and social facets. The very definition implies that there is some degree of complex cognitive and emotional processing going on in the minds of addicted users.
Of course, substances of abuse have physiological effects, and many of them have long-term side effects, including physical dependence (reliance on the substance to function) and degenerative bodily harm. While this does add a second dimension to why some addictions are so hard to quit, it doesn’t get at the heart of the issue.
An addiction that is only treated from the physiological side will leave behind a psychological labyrinth that will continue to ensnare the user in a web of addictive thinking and behavior.
Importance and Advantages of Individual Therapy
So, how do one-on-one therapeutic sessions help us escape this maze?
Challenges can crop up at any time, and as you work with an individual therapist, they become more fully informed on the details of your life and recovery journey and will be able to contextualize what is going on quickly from a more sensitive standpoint.
The mental processes that you run when you get caught in a negative thought pattern are not universal, and individual therapy can focus on what works and doesn’t work for you quickly.
The Long Road: Emotional Sobriety
Therapy is a primary tool in promoting long-term recovery in substance abuse treatment and can be used to develop a certain mindset and improve clients cognitive skills. These emotional sobriety techniques help you manage the negative feelings, fear, or discomfort that can crop up in recovery. This doesn’t just improve your emotional health overall; it explicitly helps limit the chances of relapse.
Challenges in Recovery
Many people are shocked to find that once they start living without drugs or alcohol, everyday emotions and experiences feel like they’re being broadcast in HD. This new intensity can be one of the most gratifying aspects of early recovery when the feelings are positive, but it also might amplify our sadness, frustration, shame, or guilt.
This is why we say that early recovery is a vulnerable time. Not only does it require a lot of work on the part of people newly committed to sobriety to unearth the past experiences that were driving their addiction - it is done at a time when emotions are heightened. Your therapist is experienced in this and will be there to listen, support, and work through these feelings as they come.
Individual Therapeutic Options
Of the therapeutic options approved by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the following are the recommended individual options:
Cognitive-behavioral Therapy: Perhaps the most common individual therapy, CBT is focused on looking at and solving discrepancies between cognitive processes and actions. It involves preparing for challenges and building healthy thought processes that make us more resilient when they arrive. It is recommended for treating alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, meth, and nicotine addiction.
Motivational Enhancement Therapy: Sobriety is a challenge, and we need to be motivated to live a sober life to follow through on it. This therapy is focused on resolving a client's ambivalence about sobriety and helping them build a plan for change. It is recommended for treating alcohol, marijuana, and nicotine addiction.
Family Behavioral Therapy: Family therapies focus on how the client’s addictive behavior and attitudes stem from roles and relationships within the family unit. Despite what the name implies, you don’t need to attend family therapy sessions in a group with your family; they can be one-on-one.
The Matrix Model: This is an integrated therapeutic model that involves aspects of CBT, motivational enhancement, family therapy, social support, and 12-step facilitation. It is approved for stimulant addiction treatment.
Effective treatment at a rehab center will employ various holistic mental and physical health interventions that allow for the unique nature of each client’s addiction. For almost everyone in addiction recovery, individual therapy is a fundamental component of a personalized treatment plan tailored to meet the client’s specific requirements.
Contact Nelson L. Hadler for more information on what individual therapy options may work for you or your loved one.