Drug addiction therapists are integral to the rehabilitation process. In the course of drug addiction recovery, psychotherapy can provide the healing, tools and skills necessary to break the psychological addiction to drugs. Drug addiction by nature invites therapy, due to the neurological conditioning that narcotics cause within the brain, affecting the brain’s reward centers and neuropathways. The resulting associations cause drug-addicted individuals to become conditioned to associate drug use with pleasure, escape and relief. Self-medication issues can also arise in the wake of addiction development, as drug-addicted individuals attempt to seek alleviation of psychological conditions or buried trauma. In all of these cases, drug addiction therapists can guide patients through the psychological recovery process, allowing them to break free of chronic drug addiction.
Types of Drug Addiction Therapists
From educational backgrounds to specialties, there are a wide range of therapists that can offer assistance to patients during recovery from drug addiction and abuse. From psychiatrists able to prescribe psychiatric medications to addiction counselors able to provide depth of awareness into the dynamics and process of addiction, therapists can make a difference in an individual’s course of recovery. For this reason, the nation’s best drug rehabilitation programs heavily emphasize psychotherapy, usually conducted in both individual and group settings. We’ve provided an overview below of the types of therapists that become involved in drug addiction recovery and the benefits their therapies can provide.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapists
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, also known as CBT, targets belief structures, responses, behavioral habits and thought patterns that have become dysfunctional. In drug addiction recovery, cognitive behavioral therapists work with patients to identify limiting behavioral patterns or belief structures. Through a combination of operant conditioning and targeted analysis, cognitive behavioral therapists work with patients in retraining exercises in order to forge stronger coping mechanisms, increase self-esteem and break the mental associations established during drug addiction. In some cases, exposure therapy may also be used in conjunction with CBT.
Trauma Specialists and EMDR Practitioners
For some individuals, drug addiction arises as a response to severe trauma, ranging from child abuse, domestic violence and sexual assault to combat fatigue or natural disaster survival. Drugs often provide an escape from resulting disorders, including depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), dissociative identity disorder (DID) and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). Trauma specialists can work with patients by employing a variety of methods, including cognitive therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, exposure therapy and stress reduction therapy. One of the most effective trauma therapy methodologies is known as Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), encouraging resolution of trauma through external stimuli for bilateral brain processing. EMDR practitioners work with patients to process troubling or trauma-oriented thoughts and images, while light pulses, visual stimulation, auditory tones or vibrations stimulate the brain.
Cognitive Therapy and Addiction Specialists
Not to be confused with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, cognitive therapy involves the insight-based exchange that most individuals think of when they consider the therapy process. Cognitive therapy – also known as “talk therapy” – can be highly effective in both a group and individualized setting. Some cognitive therapists carry a specialty in addiction, often including both substance abuse addiction and behavioral addictions such as eating disorders, gambling and sex addictions. By partnering with the patient, cognitive therapists trained in addiction can help individuals recognize contributing factors to drug use, become better aware of drug triggers, and forge practical solutions and positive perspectives as they approach sobriety.