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Types of Therapy for Alcoholism

Behavioral therapy is one of the most widely used methodologies in addiction treatment.(1) It is highly effective and can be used in individual, group, and family settings.1 Approaches focus on various aspects of addiction, including motivation toward recovery, developing relapse prevention skills, substituting negative and destructive behaviors with healthy and productive ones, offering incentives for desirable behaviors, and improving relationships with others.(1) Alcohol addiction therapy is an extremely important aspect in treating alcohol abuse and there are many different types of therapy for alcoholism which are commonly used.
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Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) was first developed as a clinical approach to managing mood disorders, but later adapted to treat alcohol use disorder (AUD) other forms of addiction as well.1,2,3 CBT works on the theory that certain patterns of thought can contribute to maladaptive behaviors (such as continued substance use), but a decrease in such behaviors can be achieved through identifying and changing the negative thoughts and emotions.1,2,3 Many studies have shown that this type of treatment has benefits that continue even after treatment has concluded.1

individual therapy for alcohol abuse


Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)

Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) was initially developed to treat people with long-term suicidal behaviors, but it has become most well-known for treating borderline personality disorder, a mental health issue commonly associated with concurrent substance abuse.4,5 The technique has since been effectively applied to treating substance abuse itself.4,5,6 DBT ultimately aims to help patients improve their lives by synthesizing a balance between the urge to avoid painful experiences and the need to accept some of the unavoidable pain associated with life.4 DBT technique works through the promotion of two opposing goals—change and acceptance.4

Motivational Interviewing

Motivational interviewing was developed to increase an individual’s engagement with recovery efforts and is effective at reducing substance use.2,7,8 It builds on the stages of change, helping people move from thinking about making a change to actively working toward it.2,7,8 This form of therapy for alcohol abuse can be used alone or in conjunction with other therapeutic practices. Motivational interviewing is a short-term therapy that can be offered in individual and group settings.2,8

motivational interviewing

group therapy

Contingency Management

Contingency management (CM) uses rewards to reinforce behavioral changes.2 Small prizes or vouchers for items are offered in return for positive behaviors such as negative drug or breathalyzer results.2 Reward values may stay the same or increase with ongoing abstinence. The rewards stop in the event of negative behavior, such as relapse.2,10

12-Step Facilitation

Twelve-step facilitation therapy involves 12-step help groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous. As therapeutic approach, 12-step facilitation encourages attendance and active participation in 12-step meetings as a goal of promoting abstinence.1,12,13 Most sessions are individual, although some may include family members if desired.13

alcoholics anonymous relapse prevention

helping alcoholic family

Family Therapy

Addiction affects everyone within a family, and family behavior therapy has been shown to be effective in treating addiction.1,16 This technique addresses the addiction as well as the relationships within the family, employment, parenting issues, and behavioral concerns.1,15

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