Drug addiction is a complex disorder that affects many individuals and families worldwide. It is often characterized by persistent drug-seeking behaviors despite negative consequences. While there are several approaches to drug addiction treatment, psychotherapy has been found to be effective in promoting long-term recovery.
However, the success of psychotherapy depends on the competence of the therapist, and individuals who are not qualified professionals or therapists may inadvertently jeopardize the recovery process.
As the number of drug rehabilitation centers are increasing in India, there are cases of risk of people working with patients suffering from substance use disorder who don't have appropriate training and credentials to work with this volatile group.
Hence, it becomes imperative on the part of both government and professionals to maintain a standard of evidence-based treatment approach that includes a combination of drugs, therapy, and socio-environmental change.
Role of psychotherapy
Psychotherapy for drug addiction aims to help individuals overcome their addiction by addressing underlying psychological issues that may contribute to drug use. This type of therapy can be delivered through various approaches, including cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), motivational interviewing, and family therapy. CBT, for example, focuses on identifying and challenging negative thoughts and behaviors related to drug use, while motivational interviewing aims to strengthen an individual's motivation and commitment to change.
A detrimental approach:
Individuals who are not qualified professionals or therapists may believe that they can offer helpful advice and support to individuals with drug addiction. However, this type of behavior can be counterproductive, as it may be perceived as patronizing and may create a sense of resistance to change.
A study by D'Onofrio et al. (2015) found that individuals who received unsolicited advice from family and friends were more likely to continue using drugs. This highlights the need for qualified professionals to provide appropriate psychotherapy that is evidence-based and tailored to individual needs.
Hence , the success of psychotherapy in drug addiction treatment is heavily dependent on the competence of the therapist. Individuals who are not qualified professionals or therapists may inadvertently jeopardize the recovery process by offering inappropriate advice or patronizing behaviors..It is therefore essential for individuals seeking treatment for drug addiction to work with qualified professionals who can provide appropriate psychotherapy and support. This includes licensed therapists and counselors who have specialized training in addiction treatment and evidence-based approaches to psychotherapy.
Value hierarchy recalibration:
Drug addiction is often linked to a recalibration of an individual's value hierarchy, where drugs become the top priority. Psychotherapy can help individuals recalibrate their value hierarchy by identifying and reinforcing positive values that are consistent with a drug-free lifestyle.
According to a study by Luoma et al. (2007), individuals who underwent CBT-based treatment for substance abuse demonstrated significant improvements in their value hierarchy and reported higher levels of personal values related to health, social relationships, and personal growth.
Effective psychotherapy approaches
Research has shown that several psychotherapy approaches are effective in treating drug addiction. For instance, a randomized controlled trial by Carroll et al. (2014) found that a combination of CBT and contingency management was effective in reducing cocaine use in patients with cocaine use disorder. Similarly, a meta-analysis by Magill and Ray (2009) found that motivational interviewing was effective in reducing drug use in patients with alcohol and drug use disorders.
Additionally, family therapy has been found to be effective in addressing family dynamics that may contribute to drug addiction. A randomized controlled trial by Stanton and Shadish (1997) found that family therapy was effective in improving treatment outcomes for adolescent drug abusers. This highlights the importance of involving family members in the recovery process and addressing issues that may contribute to drug addiction.
Last but not least, research has found that psychotherapy can be particularly effective when combined with medication-assisted treatment (MAT), which involves the use of medication to help reduce drug cravings and withdrawal symptoms. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), MAT can improve treatment retention, reduce the risk of relapse, and reduce the risk of overdose.
In a nutshell, psychotherapy is a crucial component in promoting long-term recovery from drug addiction. It can help individuals address underlying psychological issues that may contribute to drug use and recalibrate their value hierarchy to promote a drug-free lifestyle. Also maintenance of professionalism and check on malpractice is crucial and need of the hour.
Nasir Geelani, licensed Clinical Psychologist with special interest , and experience in addictive behaviors
DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.
The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.