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American Addiction Centers National Rehabs Directory

Drug and Alcohol Addiction Therapies

Overview of Common Addiction Therapies

Some of the most popular therapies used to help people overcome addiction include:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy helps you change faulty thinking patterns that lead to substance use.
  • Dialectical behavior therapy focuses on mindfulness, managing your emotions and tolerating negative feelings.
  • Motivational interviewing empowers you to overcome your resistance to treatment.
  • Group therapy uses the power of peer support to work through issues around addiction.
  • Contingency management reinforces positive behaviors through rewards such as vouchers.
  • Matrix Model combines several types of therapies, including cognitive behavioral therapy, to treat stimulant abuse.

What Are Addiction Therapies?

Many inpatient and outpatient addiction recovery programs use different therapeutic approaches, or modalities, as part of the treatment process. These therapies can serve different purposes in helping you overcome substance abuse, such as:

  • Help you understand why you use alcohol or drugs.
  • Deal with any concerns or resistance you may have toward treatment.
  • Reinforce positive behaviors, such as abstaining from use.
  • Support you as you learn how to live without substances.

Below are some of the common therapies used in addiction treatment programs. If you are interested in finding a program that uses a particular type of therapy, call to speak with a treatment support specialist.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, is a type of psychotherapy that focuses on changing flawed thoughts and beliefs that lead to substance abuse and other negative behaviors. CBT is:

  • Focused on the present.
  • Concerned with problem-solving.
  • Conducted for a set period of time (usually 16 weeks).

Learn more about cognitive behavioral therapy.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy

Dialectical behavior therapy, or DBT, is a form of cognitive behavioral therapy that includes skills training, individual therapy and phone consultations with a therapist. DBT is:

  • Offered through mental health programs, community treatment centers, hospitals and schools systems and workplaces.
  • Led by a team of therapists who consult with each other.
  • Teaches mindfulness, distress tolerance and emotional regulation.

Learn more about dialectical behavior therapy.

Motivational Interviewing

Motivational interviewing helps you work through any uncertainty you have about quitting drugs or alcohol and figure out reasons why you may want to make a change. Motivational interviewing is:
  • Uncritical, empathetic and goal-oriented.
  • Used as a standalone treatment or in combination with other treatments.
  • Employs open-ended questions that help you think through how substance abuse has affected your life.

Learn more about motivational interviewing.

Group Therapy

Group therapy is conducted by a trained therapist and uses the power of peer support to help you overcome drug and alcohol addiction as well as other mental health problems.

Group therapy is:

  • Used in a variety of settings, including mental health clinics and private practices.
  • Helpful for allowing you to interact with people who are going through similar issues and share experiences.
  • Typically made up of as little as 3-4 members or as many as 12 or more.

Learn more about group therapy.

Contingency Management

Contingency management uses certain rewards, such as vouchers, to reinforce positive behaviors such as clean urine tests.

Contingency management is:

  • Generally offered in addiction treatment programs that are 3 months or longer.
  • Based on the principle that behaviors that are reinforced are more likely to happen in the future.
  • Also used to reward behaviors such as attending group or individual sessions, taking medications as prescribed and completing other treatment activities.

Learn more about contingency management.

Matrix Model

The Matrix Model combines several different techniques to help you understand your addiction, develop a support system and practice relapse prevention skills. The Matrix Model is:

  • Often used with people who abuse stimulants, such as cocaine and methamphetamines.
  • Drawn heavily from cognitive behavioral therapy and motivational interviewing.
  • Delivered in an intensive outpatient setting over a 16-week period, and includes regular drug testing.

Learn more about the Matrix Model.

Contact a treatment support specialist free at if you’d like help finding a treatment program for you or your loved one.

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