Types of Therapy for Alcohol Addiction – Therapy in Nevada

Addiction is a complex disease. Every person experiences it differently, on a deeply personal level. By inference, this means that the complexity of treatment will reflect a person’s unique needs, as well as the state of their physical, mental, and spiritual health. Various therapies and their combination are necessary to address the vast spectrum of emotional, thought, and behavioral patterns compromised by alcohol use disorder (AUD), and manage withdrawal symptoms.1,2,3,4

While the methodology behind evidence-based AUD treatments can vary, the ultimate goal of every addiction therapy (regardless of the substance in question) is the same. They all aim to help the person change their behavior, thoughts, and emotions in order to achieve lasting sobriety and improve their mental and physical health and quality of life.1,2,4

The biggest advantage of alcohol addiction therapies lies in their extensive nature and broad reach. Unlike withdrawal management programs or medical detoxification (detox), they don’t focus on the purely physical aspect of addiction, which is why they represent the backbone of the majority of addiction rehab programs in Nevada and beyond.1,2,3,4

What are the Different Types of Alcohol Addiction Therapy?

Today, we have access to a wide variety of AUD treatment options suitable for every individual’s unique needs. The most commonly used ones are:1,2 

  • Psychotherapy/Talk Therapy;
  • Counseling;
  • Support Groups;
  • Yoga And Meditation;
  • Art And Music Therapy;
  • Online Therapy;
  • Family Therapy.

While all of the above options can be beneficial, not everyone will react in the same way or benefit to the same extent from each. Therefore, it is important to understand what different types of alcohol addiction therapies target.1,2 

Psychotherapy/Talk Therapy for Alcohol Addiction Recovery

Psychotherapy (talk therapy) is among the most commonly used methods for addiction treatment today, due to its high effectiveness, flexibility, and the possibility of targeting underlying factors, rather than focusing exclusively on treating the symptoms of AUD. As such, psychotherapy can be applied during every stage of recovery, regardless of the individual’s specific condition.1,2,3 

Talk therapy relies heavily on verbal communication between the therapist and the patient. For the duration of the treatment, a person will work with their therapist to identify the effects alcohol had on their life and to understand the underlying factors that led to AUD forming in the first place.2,3

The process is conducted in 4 stages and over an extended period so that both sides can build mutual trust:2,3,4

  • Commitment: Building rapport; motivating the patient to commit to improvement; 
  • Process: identifying negative thoughts and behavior patterns; helping the patient process what is happening and how they can break out of the clutches of addiction;
  • Change: introducing a patient to healthier habits and coping mechanisms; working on their adoption of said habits and mechanisms;
  • Termination: breaking the patient’s dependency on the therapist; rebuilding their self-esteem, self-image, attitude, autonomy, and independence.

Psychotherapy can be incredibly comprehensive both for AUD treatment and diagnosis. However, that also means that it is a process that cannot be rushed. Psychotherapy takes place over a prolonged period, with most patients requiring at least 10-12 sessions to experience significant results.2,3

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is one of the most recognized forms of psychotherapy available today. This form of therapy is used to treat a wide variety of mental health conditions, including substance use disorder (SUD) and, by extension, AUD.6,7 

The goal of CBT is to identify and change auto-destructive thought patterns, attitudes, and expectations. In most cases, CBT sessions rely on the following sequence:6 

  • Conversing about the patient’s current situation;
  • Identifying harmful thought patterns;
  • Developing a plan to substitute said patterns for healthier ones.

While CBT is one of the most effective forms of AUD treatment, it is still a slow process due to the nature of addiction. SUD is a complex and complicated issue. It can take an extensive amount of time and many sessions for a person to see a significant improvement.6,7 

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)

Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) is a modified version of cognitive behavioral therapy, initially developed as a means to treat borderline personality disorder (BPD). The main goals of DBT are to help patients find the way to:8,9,10 

  • Deal with difficult and complex emotions;
  • Cope with stress in a healthy way;
  • Not dwell on the past and live in the moment.

However, it is easy to see how AUD (and SUDs in general) share these three common denominators with BPD. This makes DBT an excellent tool for helping individuals struggling with alcoholism overcome the same issues.8,9,10

This type of therapy targets 4 key abilities:8,9 

  • Mindfulness: paying attention to the present (incl. situations, surroundings, and thoughts) with curiosity but free of judgment;
  • Interpersonal Effectiveness: navigating relationships (incl. effective communication, empathizing, setting healthy boundaries, and conflict resolution)
  • Emotion Regulation: gaining a deeper understanding of emotions and learning to manage them effectively;
  • Distress Tolerance: learning how to deal with stressful situations and emotions in a healthy way.

Through these practices, DBT helps a person develop coping mechanisms that do not rely on engaging in auto-destructive behaviors (e.g. drinking).10

Counseling for Alcohol Addiction Recovery

At a glance, counseling and psychotherapy may look similar. After all, they both take a similar format. A person will meet with a counselor on a regular basis, they will discuss problems, and address issues, in an effort to find the best solution and improve the patient’s mental health.4

However, there is one key difference between the two. Psychotherapy deals with the short and long-term effects of AUD, its causes, underlying factors, and influences, and covers significant time periods (often from childhood to adulthood).4

Counseling, on the other hand, rests heavily in the present. It offers a focused, short-term approach to resolving the current issues or problems an individual may experience while in recovery.4

Therefore, we may say that counseling offers more of a practical but, also, a much narrower approach to overcoming AUD than psychotherapy. As such, the majority of mental health specialists advocate using both methods for a complete, all-around treatment.4 

Support Groups for Alcohol Addiction Recovery

The natural proclivity of human beings to form and join groups makes group therapy an incredibly potent method of addressing alcohol addiction (and SUD in general). Research conducted recently has shown that this treatment method can be as effective or even more effective than traditional therapy.11,12,13 

Support Groups provide a safe space where individuals can share their thoughts and experiences with their peers, as well as receive support, advice, encouragement, and guidance from individuals that were (or still are) in a similar situation.11,12,13 

The methodology and approach can vary substantially from one support group to the other. Some focus heavily on abstinence and maintaining day-to-day sobriety. Others are more about providing emotional support. Some are professionally led, usually by a certified psychotherapist, while others (such as Alcoholics Anonymous) are peer-led.12,13

However, regardless of the format, all support groups rest on the same principles:13 

  • Open and honest communication;
  • Unconditional acceptance;
  • Reflection;
  • Commitment to change.

It is important to note that support groups can be beneficial regardless of the stage of recovery. They can be as effective for individuals in the early stages of inpatient treatment, as well as for those who finished rehab and are in active recovery for an extended period.11,12,13

Yoga And Meditation for Alcohol Addiction Recovery

Yoga is believed to combine meditation and physical exercise with mindfulness, self-realization, and self-discipline practices to improve a person’s overall mental and physical well-being. It can sometimes be a powerful tool in helping individuals suffering from addiction overcome their inner struggles and expedite the recovery process. However, some of the practices can be quite intensive and trigger complex emotions. As such, it is necessary to have the guidance of a practitioner who is experienced both in yoga and in working with individuals in recovery.14

Art And Music Therapy for Alcohol Addiction Recovery

Some patients find the common therapy methods (for instance 12-step programs) ill-suited to their specific mindset or current situation and may react more favorably to alternative treatment methods. The idea of using art and music to help with SUD treatment isn’t new. The roots of the former go as far back as the 1950s, with the latter being a slightly more recent addition (since the 1970s). They both strive to help a patient express themselves non-verbally, by employing their creativity and imagination.15,16,17 

Variations of these activities (whether it be painting, sculpting, playing an instrument, or listening to music) can help an individual address their physical, emotional, cognitive, and social issues, as well as provide a much-needed stress relief mechanic and outlet for complex feelings.15,16,17

It is important to note that neither art nor music therapy can be used as a replacement for standard psychotherapy. However, both can be effective and invaluable tools to aid in the recovery process.16,17

Online Therapy for Alcohol Addiction Recovery

Online therapy (also known as “telepsychology” or “teletherapy”) is a form of counseling typically conducted via a phone or video call, text messaging or in-app chats, email, or other forms of internet communication. This type of therapy became increasingly popular during the recent COVID-19 pandemic, as a way for millions of people to receive the mental health treatments they need without risking exposure.18,19,20

In its essence, online therapy works the same way as the traditional one. A person will engage in a conversation with a counselor who will help them address and work through the issues caused by AUD. The only difference is that the entire session takes place in a virtual environment, which offers many benefits, including increased privacy (anonymity), greater flexibility, lower costs, and greater comfort.18,19,20,21

Recent research indicates that online therapy has the potential to be as effective as its traditional counterpart and, in some cases, possibly provide better results for some patients.18,19,20,21

Family Therapy for Alcohol Addiction Recovery

Addiction often impacts an individual’s social circle. The closest family members often take the brunt of its force, which can lead to strained or broken relationships. However, the opposite is true, too. Unhealthy family relationships and dynamics can influence an individual’s AUD, reinforcing, solidifying, or even causing it in some instances.22,23,24

In recent years, there has been a significant recognition of the role of the family as a positive factor in addiction treatment in general. Recent research shows that family involvement and support can improve nearly every aspect of treatment including treatment entry, completion rates, as well as overall treatment effectiveness.22,23,24

Family therapy in alcohol addiction recovery usually views the family as a closed system, where every member plays a bigger role as a part of a greater whole. By creating a space for open and honest communication, family therapy helps every member (not only the individual afflicted by AUD) develop healthy boundaries, coping mechanisms, and a deeper understanding of the causes and effects of the problem, all of which can lead to a healthier relationship and family mechanic.22,23,24

How Can I Find a Therapy for Alcohol Addiction in Nevada?

If you or your loved one are seeking treatment for alcohol addiction in Nevada or anywhere in the US, reaching out to American Addiction Centers (AAC) is the recommended first step. Our knowledgeable admission navigators will help you devise a plan that is best suited to your needs and current situation.

AAC maintains a wide network of treatment facilities across the US, where expertly trained and experienced staff can help you start down the road of recovery and lifelong wellness. Give us a call today to find out more about our Nevada rehab centers and different payment plans, or to learn more about AUD and the various treatment options we offer.