When it comes time to access professional help for an addiction—whether it involves drugs or alcohol, sex, food, gambling, shopping, or video gaming—the first thing to understand is that no one therapy provides the recovery silver bullet. Addictions are as unique as a fingerprint, with complex factors involved for each individual’s case. Addiction is, at its core, a brain disease, regardless of the type of addictive behavior involved. A never-sated desire for the object or behavior that has impacted the brain’s reward system—drugs, alcohol, cigarette, gambling, sex, etc., continues compulsively, despite mounting consequences.
Types of Addiction Therapy
Because of the many variables involved in each addiction story, the approach to therapy must be tailored to address those unique factors, and remain fluid to allow for modifying treatment as it progresses. Psychotherapy is essential to recovery in order to identify underlying causes for the addiction. A variety of treatment modalities can be accessed to treat a particular addiction, including psychodynamic therapy, behavioral therapies, attachment theory-based therapy, contingency management, and dialectical therapy, to name a few. Addiction therapy commonly involves a combination of psychotherapy and medication for treating most addictions and dual diagnoses.
Therapy for Drug or Alcohol Addiction
The most commonly practiced therapy for drug or alcohol addiction is cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT. CBT is a short-term therapeutic therapy that is very effective in helping someone with a substance use disorder identify disordered thought and behavior patterns that occur in response to certain triggers that drive addiction.
CBT helps the individual change these harmful thought patterns by teaching them proactive and positive ways of responding to the harmful stimuli. This leads to regulation of emotions and thus a decreased need for the substance.
In addition to CBT, group therapy and family therapy are also helpful therapeutic approaches for substance addiction. The group format helps foster new coping strategies and communication skills, which improve emotional stability in recovery. Pharmacotherapy is another aspect of addiction therapy that helps reduce cravings and staves off relapse. For alcohol addiction, naltrexone is often prescribed, and for opiate addictions Suboxone, methadone, and buprenorphine are used.
Therapy for Sex Addiction
CBT is an effective therapy for treating a sex addict. The therapist may use CBT to help avert the focus of their obsessive thoughts and/or compulsive behaviors and provide them with techniques to help reduce the impulse for acting out sexually. Sex addiction shares features of obsessive-compulsive disorder. Although there is no specific medication for sex addiction, some respond well to antidepressants such as Prozac or Anafranil in curbing sexual compulsions.
Therapy for Gambling Addiction
Those addicted to gambling have persistent obsessive thoughts about how to continue experiencing the high triggered by the risk and reward of gambling. CBT, psychodynamic therapy, and behavioral therapy work best for treating someone with a gambling addiction. Individual talk therapy combined with group counseling and peer support groups such as Gambler’s Anonymous are effective therapeutic methods for a gambling addiction.
Therapy for Food Addiction
Overcoming a food addiction is also treated mostly with CBT. Again, CBT helps modify behavioral responses to distorted thought patterns by helping the individual adapt new healthy thoughts and behaviors. Individuals with an eating disorder may also struggle with depression, so antidepressants may also be prescribed to augment food addiction therapy.
Therapy for Video-gaming Addiction
Video games, such as the online multi-player games, are actually designed to ensnare gamers into their online character’s never-ending storyline. Video gaming shares many of the same addiction characteristics as gambling addiction, meaning that modifying compulsive behavior is best achieved through behavioral therapy and CBT. The antidepressant bupropion has also been shown to reduce cravings for gaming.
Therapy for Shopping Addiction
Compulsive shopping behavior, or compulsive buying disorder, is an impulse control disorder that is best treated with CBT. Because a shopping addiction is often co-occurring with mood disorder or substance use disorder, certain medications may help in the case of a dual diagnosis. In addition, participation in a program such as Debtors Anonymous, as well as financial counseling, can augment treatment.
Phaite Behavioral Health Care Services
Receive addiction therapy at Phaite Behavioral Health from a team of experienced clinicians. Call for a free confidential assessment at 888-259-1268.