Therapy for Substance Abuse: How does Addiction Treatment Work? 

Substance abuse is a significant public health concern affecting millions of people worldwide. Addiction treatment is essential for individuals struggling with substance abuse, as it offers a structured approach to recovery and provides tools to maintain long-term sobriety. Mental health providers play a crucial role in addiction treatment by providing evidence-based therapies and addressing the underlying psychological and emotional issues that contribute to addiction.

Overall, addiction treatment is a complex process that requires a comprehensive approach to address addiction’s physical, psychological, and social aspects. Mental health providers can play a vital role in addiction treatment, providing individuals with the support and tools they need to achieve long-term recovery.

Types of Therapy for Addiction Treatment

Addiction treatment involves various interventions, including detoxification, medication-assisted treatment, behavioral therapies, and support groups. Additionally, qualified therapists can treat co-occurring mental health disorders, such as depression, anxiety, and trauma, which often contribute to addiction. Here are four of the best types of therapy for substance abuse treatment:

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a type of psychotherapy widely used in addiction treatment to help individuals identify and change negative thoughts and behaviors that contribute to substance abuse. CBT is based on the idea that our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are interconnected and that we can change our emotional and psychological reactions to them by changing our thoughts and behaviors.

In addiction treatment, CBT is typically delivered in individual or group sessions over a period of 12-16 weeks. During these sessions, individuals learn to recognize and challenge negative thought patterns and develop coping skills to manage cravings and triggers. CBT can also address underlying mental health issues that may contribute to addiction, such as depression and anxiety.


Detoxification, or detox, is the process of removing drugs or alcohol from the body. It is often the first step in addiction treatment and is critical for individuals to detox safely and under medical supervision. The goal of detoxification is to manage withdrawal symptoms and reduce the risk of complications or relapse. Detox can be done in an inpatient or outpatient setting, depending on the severity of the addiction.

While detox is an essential first step in addiction treatment, it is not a cure for addiction. To achieve long-term recovery, individuals need to address the underlying psychological and behavioral aspects of addiction through therapy and other forms of addiction treatment.

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) is a form of therapy that combines cognitive-behavioral techniques with mindfulness and acceptance strategies. It was initially developed to treat individuals with borderline personality disorder, but it has also been found to be effective in treating substance abuse.

DBT helps individuals learn to regulate emotions, tolerate distress, and improve interpersonal relationships. In addiction treatment, DBT can be offered in individual or group settings and typically involves 24-26 weeks of treatment.

12-Step Programs

12-Step Programs, such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA), are mutual aid support groups that offer a spiritual approach to addiction recovery. These programs involve attending meetings, working through the 12 steps, and having a sponsor. 12-Step Programs provide a sense of community, support, and accountability for individuals in recovery.

Such strategies are often used in conjunction with other addiction treatment modalities, such as therapy and medication-assisted treatment. 12-Step Programs are widely accessible and free of charge, making them an attractive option for individuals who cannot afford traditional addiction treatment.

Medication-Assisted Treatment

Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) is a form of addiction treatment that combines medication with therapy and counseling. MAT is effective in reducing opioid use, decreasing cravings and withdrawal symptoms, and improving treatment outcomes. Medications used in MAT include methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone, which work by reducing the effects of opioids on the brain and blocking their euphoric effects.

MAT is often used with other addiction treatment modalities, such as therapy and support groups, and can be offered in inpatient and outpatient settings. It is vital for individuals to receive MAT under medical supervision, as these medications can have potential side effects and risks.

In conclusion, addiction treatment involves a range of evidence-based therapies and approaches that address addiction’s physical, psychological, and behavioral aspects. These therapies may be used alone or in combination with medication-assisted treatment to help individuals achieve and maintain recovery. Addiction treatment needs to be tailored to the individual’s needs and circumstances, as there is no one-size-fits-all approach to addiction recovery.

Individuals can overcome addiction and achieve long-term recovery with the proper support and resources. Seeking help from mental health providers and addiction specialists is a critical first step in the journey toward recovery. With the right treatment and support, individuals can build healthier and happier lives free from addiction.