Dr Balu Pitchiah MBBS, MRCPsych, CCST,MBA (OXON)

How Can Behavioural Therapies Help With Drug Addiction?

Drug addiction is a complex problem that often requires a multifaceted approach. As part of your treatment you may need medication, support through detox, talking therapy and behavioural therapies as well as other forms of support. One of the most commonly used approaches to treating addiction is behavioural therapy.

What Are Behavioural Therapies?

Behavioural therapy is designed to help you to change unwanted behaviours, so it can be very effective for tackling drug addiction. It typically involves talking to a therapist about the behaviours you want to stop, how they make you feel, and what triggers those behaviours. Recognising patterns in the way you think and act can help you to understand why you behave in a certain way. The doctor can then work with you to find ways of breaking those habits. You might learn techniques to distract yourself from harmful impulses or healthy strategies for managing the worries and emotions that drive your negative behaviours.

Ways Therapy Can Help With Drug Addiction

The approach used during your behavioural therapy sessions will depend on your needs. You will work together with the doctor to find a strategy that works for you. Some of the common tactics used when treating drug addiction include:

  • Learning techniques to help you to cope with cravings.
  • Helping you to recognise negative emotions so that you can deal with them before they trigger negative behaviours.
  • Developing healthy approaches to stress, anxiety and other emotions.
  • Identifying places, people or activities that could trigger a relapse and developing strategies to help you avoid them.
  • Improving the way you communicate with friends and family so that you are able to express yourselves more clearly and support one another.

Simply spending time talking to the doctor about your thoughts and behaviour can also be very valuable. Opening up about how you feel can make it easier for you to overcome the negative emotions. The therapy sessions will also provide you with tools such as relaxation techniques and the ability to recognise and prevent harmful ways of thinking that you will be able to put to practical use in your everyday life.