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The Science Behind Behavioral Therapies in Addiction Treatment

Behavioral therapies are at the core of addiction treatment and recovery. These therapies involve changing behavior through a process that includes identifying triggers, recognizing one’s own thoughts and feelings related to substance abuse, and learning new skills for coping with stressors and cravings.

This type of therapy is based on the idea that behavior can be modified by providing reinforcement or rewards for desired behaviors, as well as consequences for undesired behaviors. These therapies have been shown to be effective in helping people recognize patterns of thinking that may lead to relapse—allowing them to take steps to avoid it. Thus, behavioral therapy provides an invaluable tool in addiction treatment and recovery programs.

Types of Behavioral Therapies

Every addiction treatment should be customized to the individual’s unique needs and might utilize one or more different evidence-based behavioral therapies modalities, including:

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT):

This form of psychological treatment has been shown effective at addressing issues including anxiety, depression, and substance abuse. There is significant scientific evidence showcasing that these methods are effective in producing change. At its core, CBT uses strategies to help individuals learn to recognize distorted thoughts, reevaluate them in a safe space, gain problem-solving skills to cope with challenging scenarios and learn to build confidence in one’s own abilities.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT):

Based on CBT methods, this psychotherapy has been proven effective for treating and managing conditions such as PTSD, borderline personality disorder, substance use disorder, eating disorders, depression, and anxiety. The goal of this type of therapy is to help individuals manage intense emotions by building confidence, pinpointing unhealthy behaviors, and replacing those behaviors with new coping skills. This can be done through practicing mindfulness, coping with distressing situations, setting boundaries, and being more in control of emotions.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy:

Developed in the 1980s, this form of behavioral therapy can help treat conditions such as OCD, substance use disorders, stress, psychosis, depression, and anxiety disorders. It focuses on helping individuals develop and expand psychological flexibility—allowing someone to adapt self-talk and behaviors to better align with their values and goals. The theory behind this therapy is that trying to suppress painful emotions will lead to more distress and that there are effective alternatives to changing thoughts and behaviors.

Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP):

Unlike other forms of behavioral therapy, this therapy slowly exposes individuals to scenarios designed to trigger a person’s obsession—making it an effective option for those living with OCD. ERP was designed with the thought that it is impossible to completely eliminate triggering situations from daily life, so gradual exposure in a safe space can allow individuals to develop coping strategies to prevent compulsions from taking place.

At The Good Life Treatment Center, our experienced team is committed to helping those struggling with alcohol or drug abuse. We pair evidence-based treatment options with innovative wellness programs to create a comprehensive treatment plan. To learn more about our programs, call us today at (561) 250-8552.


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