A Guide to Different Types of Therapy

In a research-based guide to effective drug addiction treatment, the National Institute on Drug Abuse states that no one treatment is right for every patient. They note that patient and drug characteristics affect the appropriateness of treatment settings, interventions and services. For this reason, there are a large number of potentially helpful interventions. Treatments can be broadly categorized as psychotherapy, medication-assisted treatment or alternative therapies.


Psychotherapy, or counseling, which may include individual, group or family sessions, is the most common type of addiction treatment. Patients work with counselors to understand what triggers their desire to abuse substances and ways to combat it. They learn relapse prevention skills and work on motivational enhancement. If there are co-existing mental health disorders like depression, anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), these are addressed as well. A 2003 article in the American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry reviewed studies of psychotherapeutic treatments for addiction and concluded that they consistently proved to be helpful. Types of psychotherapy include the following:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) – CBT focuses on identifying thoughts that underlie feelings and actions. The thoughts are examined for validity and helpfulness, and patients are taught to confront and discard them if they are not constructive and are leading to self-destructive behavior.
  • Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) – A related treatment to traditional CBT, DBT adds the element of validation. Validation involves affirming that a patient’s feelings, thoughts and behaviors are logical in some way. DBT balances the acceptance of these with the goal of change.
  • Psychodynamic therapy – Behavioral therapies tend to focus on the present and on specific targeted behaviors. Psychodynamic therapy is more open-ended giving patients an opportunity to free-associate and discover unconscious relationships between current challenges and past experiences. It is also known as insight-oriented therapy.
  • Interpersonal therapy – Interpersonal therapy focuses on relationships and interpersonal skills. Patients learn to identify the emotions they experience when in conflict with others and healthy ways to express them. Patterns of isolation or aggression are identified and addressed.

Medication-assisted treatment

Medications for addiction to drugs like amphetamine are not generally used alone but may be used in addition to psychotherapy. Withdrawal symptoms may be treated with drugs, and for some addictions there are also medications to help with relapse prevention. These include the following:

  • Opiates and Opioids – There are a number of medications available to treat addiction to natural opiates like heroin and morphine and their synthetic counterparts, opioid painkillers like oxycodone and hydrocodone. Medications include methadone, buprenorphine and naltrexone. Methadone and buprenorphine reduce withdrawal symptoms and drug cravings. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) notes that the drugs have been shown to increase retention in treatment. Naltrexone reduces the relapse risk and SAMHSA notes that it may be especially helpful for people exiting a treatment setting where abstinence has been enforced.
  • Alcohol – Alcohol addiction may be treated with acamprosate, naltrexone and disulfiram. Acamprosate reduces protracted withdrawal symptoms. Naltrexone reduces cravings. Disulfiram affects the way in which alcohol is metabolized leading to unpleasant physical reactions when alcohol is consumed.
  • Tobacco – Some addiction treatment professionals believe that treating tobacco addiction will help patients overcome other addictions as well. Medications to assist the process include nicotine, bupropion and varenicline.

Alternative Therapies

Alternative or complementary therapies may be added to an addiction treatment protocol. Possible treatments include the following:

  • Nutritional therapies – Optimizing nutrition can include both dietary interventions and the consumption of vitamin supplements. Drug and alcohol cravings can be linked to imbalances of nutrients and neurotransmitters. Physical conditions such as hypoglycemia, adrenal fatigue, oxidative stress and inflammation can also contribute. Although a nutritional program should optimally be individualized, recommendations generally include avoiding caffeine and highly sweetened, salted or processed food and consuming adequate amounts of protein, fiber and healthy fats. Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory supplements can be helpful as can natural energy-producing aids such as B vitamins.
  • Bodywork – Therapies based on movement or manipulation of the body include acupuncture, yoga, exercise programs and massage. A specific type of acupuncture using 5 points on the ear may be used to treat drug cravings during withdrawal.
  • Animal programs – Programs involving the care of and interaction with animals, such as equine or canine therapies, can lower stress, increase self-esteem and provide an external focus. Patience and communication skills can also be improved.
  • Meditation – Meditation, often combined with breathing exercises, can lower stress and help people become more aware of thoughts and feelings that may contribute to substance abuse.

Give Us a Call

If you are looking for addiction treatment for drugs like amphetamine that is right for you, we can help you find it. Our toll-free helpline is available 24 hours a day and staffed with knowledgeable consultants who can answer your questions and help you identify your treatment options. They can even check your insurance coverage for you if you wish at no cost or obligation. Call now, and begin a new life.