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What Are the Benefits of Psychotherapy for Addiction?

By Paul Cartmell
Updated May 17, 2024
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Psychotherapy is often used in the treatment of people with addictions in a variety of forms such as alcohol and drug dependency. Benefits of psychotherapy for addiction can include the ability of the recovering addict to uncover the causes and triggers of his or her addiction and to improve his or her decision-making techniques when faced with a possible relapse. There are many forms of psychotherapy used in the treatment of addiction, including individual counseling and group therapy offered in rehabilitation facilities and aftercare programs following a patient completing rehab.

The term "psychotherapy" covers a number of different treatments referring to the care for patients with mental health issues provided by a psychologist or healthcare provider. Addiction is often seen as a mental health issue treated with psychotherapy following the completion of treatment for the physical effects of an addiction such as detoxification. Issues covered during psychotherapy for addiction sessions include the feelings, thoughts, and moods of the patient.

Addiction rehabilitation facilities often begin psychotherapy treatment with individual sessions between the patient and psychotherapist. During these sessions, the patient begins to uncover the history of his or her addiction and the triggers that may lead to a relapse. Benefits of individual psychotherapy sessions include the learning of techniques associated with decision making to avoid a relapse.

Group counseling is a type of psychotherapy that allows a recovering addict to meet with a counselor and a group of other people with similar experience. In some situations, these are the first attempts at discussing the addiction with other people who are having similar experiences and attempting to avoid a relapse. These sessions give the patient the chance to discuss his or her fears for the future and gain insight from the experiences of the other members of the group.

Aftercare psychotherapy for addiction sessions take place after the patient has completed treatment at a facility. Programs offered as aftercare attempt to give advice to patients on how to respond in specific situations that may arise in everyday life when dealing with loved ones, friends, and dangers when returning to an old neighborhood. Patients also benefit from advice provided on career and education opportunities that may have been missed because of the addiction.

Alternative psychotherapy for addiction programs include the use of hallucinogenic and psychedelic drugs in tandem with counseling sessions. Research began into the use of hallucinogenic drugs in the 1960s and 1970s, continuing into the early 21st century used in the treatment of detoxified alcoholic patients. The benefits of psychedelic drugs for psychotherapy have not been proven, however, because of mixed results associated with relapse rates in alcoholic patients.

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