Different Types of Substance Abuse Therapy

Learn more about the benefits of substance abuse therapy and how to decide on the right treatment path for you.

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In 2020, approximately 14.5% of the U.S. population (or 40.3 million individuals over the age of 12) had a substance use disorder (SUD). Know that, if you are a part of that statistic, you are more than a number to us.

At Black Horse Health, we know that addiction is not indicative of a moral failure. Addiction is a rampant and devastating disease, and we’re here to provide you or your loved one with the resources needed for a full recovery.

If you are ready to begin substance abuse recovery, know that we’re here for you every step of the way. Read on for more information on substance abuse therapy treatment opportunities, and reach out to our Black Horse Health team when you’re ready to begin healing.

What is Substance Abuse Therapy?

Substance abuse therapy is also known as substance abuse counseling or addiction therapy. It’s a form of psychological treatment designed to help people struggling with substance use disorder or addiction.

It is a specialized form of therapy that focuses on addressing the underlying causes of addiction. It also works to help people manage cravings and withdrawal symptoms. The goal is to help them develop strategies for maintaining long-term sobriety and recovery.

Here are some key aspects of substance abuse therapy:1

Assessment and Evaluation

Therapy often begins with a thorough assessment to understand the person’s history of substance use. It also works to check for any co-occurring mental health issues and the extent of a patient’s addiction. This assessment helps therapists create a personalized treatment plan.

Individual and Group Therapy

Substance abuse therapy can be delivered in both individual and group settings. Individual therapy allows for one-on-one sessions between the client and therapist.

Group therapy involves participation in sessions with others who are also working on their recovery. It provides a supportive environment where people can share their experiences and learn from one another.

Evidence-Based Approaches

Many substance abuse therapists use evidence-based therapeutic approaches. These can include cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT).

These therapies help people:

  • Develop coping skills
  • Change problematic behaviors
  • Address distorted thought patterns related to addiction


Therapy often includes education about:

  • Addiction
  • Its effects on the brain and body
  • Strategies for preventing relapse

Patients learn practical skills for managing risk factors and stressors that may lead to substance use.

Relapse Prevention

A significant focus of substance abuse therapy is on relapse prevention. Therapists work with clients to identify potential relapse risks and triggers. They then develop strategies to avoid or cope with these effectively.

Family Involvement

In some cases, family therapy or counseling may be included in the treatment plan. This can help repair strained relationships and provide a supportive network for the person in recovery.

Holistic Approach

Many substance abuse treatment programs take a holistic approach. This helps people address not only the addiction but also the physical, emotional, and social aspects of a person’s life.

This may involve:

  • Addressing co-occurring mental health issues
  • Improving general well-being
  • Helping clients reintegrate into society

Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)

In some cases, medication may get prescribed to help manage withdrawal symptoms and reduce cravings. Medications like methadone, buprenorphine, or naltrexone are used for opioid addiction. Others may be prescribed for alcohol or nicotine dependence.

Substance abuse therapy is a crucial component of addiction treatment. Its effectiveness can vary from person to person.

It’s often used in conjunction with other forms of treatment, such as:

  • Detoxification
  • Support groups
  • Aftercare programs

How Does Substance Abuse Therapy Help People Achieve Sobriety?

Substance abuse therapy plays a crucial role in helping people achieve sobriety. Here are some of the key ways in which therapy contributes to this process:2

Identification of Underlying Issues

Substance abuse therapists help people understand the underlying causes of their addiction. This can include:

  • Past trauma
  • Unresolved emotional issues
  • Co-occurring mental health disorders

By addressing these root causes, therapy helps people develop healthier ways to cope with these issues. This reduces the need for substances as a coping mechanism.

Skill Development

Therapy equips patients with skills and strategies to manage cravings and make healthier choices. Cognitive-behavioral techniques can help people identify and change negative thought patterns or behaviors associated with substance use.

Motivation and Goal Setting

Therapists help people set and work toward sobriety goals. They provide motivation and encouragement throughout the recovery process. This helps patients stay committed to their journey to sobriety even when facing challenges.

Support and Accountability

Therapy aims to provide a safe and supportive environment for patients. It allows people to discuss their struggles, fears, and successes without judgment. Therapists offer emotional support and hold patients accountable for their actions. This helps them stay on track.

Family and Relationship Repair

For those with strained family relationships due to addiction, family therapy may be included in the treatment plan. This helps repair these relationships and build a stronger support system for the person in recovery.

Long-Term Recovery Planning

Substance abuse therapy often involves creating a long-term recovery plan. This plan outlines the steps and strategies needed to maintain sobriety after the formal treatment program ends.

It may include:

  • Ongoing therapy
  • Participation in support groups
  • Lifestyle changes to support a substance-free life

Building Self-Esteem and Self-Efficacy

Therapy helps patients build self-esteem and confidence in their ability to overcome addiction. As they achieve milestones in their recovery, their self-efficacy improves. This then reinforces their commitment to sobriety.

Substance abuse therapy offers the tools, insights, and emotional support needed to break the cycle of addiction. The goal is to make lasting behavioral changes.

Therapy Modalities Used in Substance Abuse Therapy

Substance abuse treatment uses various therapy modalities and approaches. These approaches address the complex needs of people struggling with addiction.

The choice of therapy modalities can depend on factors such as:

  • The person’s specific needs
  • Their response to different approaches
  • Their treatment goals
Here are some common counseling modalities used in substance abuse therapy:3

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

CBT is a widely used approach in substance abuse treatment. It helps people identify and change negative thought patterns and behaviors associated with substance use. CBT teaches practical coping skills to manage cravings and stressors. This also makes it an effective tool for relapse prevention.

Motivational Interviewing (MI)

MI is a client-centered approach. It aims to enhance a person’s motivation to change their behavior. Therapists use non-confrontational techniques to help people explore their ambivalence about change. They then set goals for recovery.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

DBT was originally developed for borderline personality disorder. But, it’s since been adapted for substance abuse therapy. It combines CBT techniques with mindfulness and emotional regulation skills. The goal is to help patients manage cravings and improve emotional well-being.

Contingency Management (CM)

CM is a behavior-based approach that provides tangible rewards or incentives for people who maintain abstinence and meet treatment goals. It’s often used to reinforce positive behaviors and motivate clients to stay drug-free.

12-Step Facilitation

This approach is based on the principles of 12-Step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA). Therapists guide patients through the twelve steps. This helps them develop a spiritual connection and build a supportive recovery community.

Holistic Therapies

These therapies focus on the mind-body-spirit connection. They may include practices like:

  • Yoga
  • Meditation
  • Art therapy
  • Equine therapy

Holistic approaches aim to improve well-being and provide alternative coping mechanisms.

Trauma-Informed Therapy

Many people with substance use disorders have a history of trauma. Trauma-informed therapy addresses past traumatic experiences and their impact on addiction. This helps patients heal and develop healthier coping strategies.

Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention

This approach combines mindfulness practices with CBT strategies to help patients stay aware of their thoughts and emotions and prevent relapse.

Treatment providers often use a combination of these therapy modalities. They tailor the approach to each person’s unique needs and progress in recovery. The goal is to provide a comprehensive and personalized treatment plan that maximizes the chances of successful sobriety.

How Do Therapists Tailor Treatment to Each Person?

Therapists and counselors can tailor substance abuse therapy to address the specific needs and challenges of each patient. Below are some key ways in which therapy can be tailored to meet the unique needs of each person in treatment.

Assessment and Evaluation

As mentioned above, the treatment process begins with a comprehensive assessment and evaluation.

Therapists will gather information about the patient’s:

  • History of substance use
  • Co-occurring mental health issues
  • Physical health and genetics
  • Family dynamics
  • Support systems
  • Personal goals
  • Any other relevant factors
This assessment helps therapists understand the person’s unique circumstances and treatment needs.4

Individualized Treatment Plans

Based on the assessment, therapists develop individualized treatment plans. These will take into account the person’s specific challenges and goals.

These plans outline:

  • Therapeutic approaches
  • Treatment strategies
  • Goals tailored to the person’s needs and symptoms

Choosing the Right Therapy Modalities

Therapists select therapy modalities and techniques that align with the person’s:

  • Preferences
  • Personality
  • Experiences
  • Treatment goals

For example, some people may respond well to CBT. Others may benefit more from mindfulness-based approaches or group therapy.

Cultural Sensitivity

Therapists are trained to be culturally sensitive and considerate of a patient’s:

  • Cultural background
  • Values
  • Beliefs

Some therapy options may not be viable for people of certain religions or beliefs, so cultural sensitivity is important.

Stages of Change

Therapists consider where the patient is in terms of their readiness to change. The stages of change model helps therapists tailor interventions to the person’s current stage.

Ongoing Assessment and Adjustment

Therapy is a dynamic process. Therapists continuously assess the patient’s progress and adjust the treatment plan as needed. If certain approaches aren’t working, therapists explore alternative strategies. This helps ensure that patients continue to get the care they need.

Collaboration With Other Professionals

In some cases, therapists collaborate with other professionals to provide comprehensive care that addresses all aspects of the patient’s health and well-being.

By tailoring substance abuse therapy in these ways, therapists and counselors can effectively address the specific needs and challenges of each person seeking treatment.

Professionals Involved in Substance Abuse Therapy

Substance abuse therapy often involves a team of professionals with various backgrounds and expertise.

Here are some types of therapists and professionals who may be involved in substance abuse therapy:

Substance Abuse Counselors

Substance abuse counselors specialize in helping people with addiction issues. These professionals provide counseling and treatment planning specifically focused on substance abuse.

Clinical Psychologists

Clinical psychologists are trained to diagnose and treat mental health disorders. These can include those that commonly co-occur with substance abuse, such as depression and anxiety.

They may provide individual therapy and assessments to address both the addiction and underlying mental health issues.

Social Workers

Licensed clinical social workers often work in substance abuse treatment programs. They provide therapy and case management. They also help people connect with community resources and support services.

Marriage and Family Therapists

Marriage and family therapists specialize in addressing relationship issues and family dynamics. They can be instrumental in family therapy sessions to improve communication and support systems for people in recovery.

Addiction Psychiatrists

These psychiatrists specialize in treating substance use disorders and co-occurring mental health conditions. They provide medication-assisted treatment and may also offer therapy as part of their practice.

Peer Support Specialists

Peer support specialists are people with personal experience in recovery from addiction. They provide support, mentorship, and guidance to those currently in treatment. This often occurs in group settings or one-on-one interactions.

Occupational Therapists

Occupational therapists can help people develop life skills and coping mechanisms necessary for sober living. They focus on improving daily functioning and independence.

Art Therapists and Expressive Arts Therapists

These therapists use creative and artistic methods to help patients:

  • Explore their emotions
  • Manage stress
  • Express themselves

Art therapy is beneficial for people who struggle to communicate their feelings through words.

Trauma Therapists

Some people with substance use disorders have experienced trauma. Trauma therapists specialize in helping patients heal from these experiences, which may have contributed to their addiction.

substance abuse therapy

Receive Personalized Substance Abuse Therapy at Black Horse Health

If you or a loved one are struggling with substance use disorder, Black Horse Health is here to help.

About Us

Our compassionate team will meet you where you are in your recovery journey to ensure you get the treatment and support you need. We will work with you to create an individualized treatment plan for your symptoms.

We also can help you heal from:

We believe that recovery is attainable for everyone.

What Do We Offer?

Depending on your needs, we offer many treatment modalities. We believe that both holistic and evidence-based treatment are important for achieving sobriety.

Some therapy options we provide for substance abuse therapy include:

  • Art therapy
  • Drama therapy
  • Experiential therapy
  • Equine therapy
  • Medication-assisted treatment
  • Harm reduction techniques
  • Meditation or yoga
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy

Contact Black Horse Health Today

You don’t have to struggle with addiction alone. Reach out to our team today for more information about our treatment options. We are here for you every step of the way.

Harness the power of wellness today.