Understanding the Different Types of Addiction, From Chemical to Behavioral

Dr. Lira de la Rosa recommends working with both a psychiatrist and a therapist for the most effective recovery treatment. A psychiatrist can prescribe medications that help with withdrawal, cravings, anxiety, and depression if needed. A licensed counselor or psychologist specializing in substance use disorders can help address negative patterns of thought and behavior with cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). A combination of those two treatments can help you understand your triggers, learn how to manage your triggers and cravings, and find healthier ways to cope while in recovery, says Dr. Lira de la Rosa.During the process, you may also need to address other parts of your life that have been neglected, including underlying medical conditions or mental health issues. Therapy may also help you to mend relationships that were impacted while using substances.Dr. Lira de la Rosa also points out that some people may not be ready to live a life of sobriety. In these situations, he says harm reduction strategies can be used to help people cut back on substance use and have a healthier relationship with substances.On another note, relapse is often a part of the recovery process. It doesn’t mean a person or their treatment has failed. It simply means their treatment plan needs to be adjusted or revisited.Perhaps the most important part of recovery is that the person has to want to get better. “Sustained motivation is the cornerstone to treatment,” Dr. Mou says, but the onus is not only on the person in treatment. The treatment team also has a responsibility to help keep the person motivated in their recovery journey, he says.What are the treatment options for behavioral addiction?Treatment for behavioral addiction is typically centered around therapy, but can also include medication. “You may benefit from individual therapy to address triggers and withdrawal symptoms, as well as learning new ways to engage in healthier behavior,” Dr. Lira de la Rosa says.Like chemical addiction, common treatments for a behavioral addiction include cognitive behavioral therapy and motivational interviewing. The goal is to change the patterns of thought and behavior and develop new coping skills.How to help yourself or a loved one during addiction recoveryIf you’re concerned about substance misuse or behavioral addiction, know that you are not alone. Finding support and practicing self-compassion can help you on your journey to recovery. Here are a few tips that can help you get started:Find a support personConfide in a family member, friend, or mentor who you trust. Forging a bond with a close contact can help you through difficult moments, but keep in mind that professional help may also be necessary.If you’re helping a loved one through addiction recovery, Dr. Lira de la Rosa says it’s also a good idea to seek support for yourself. “You may experience a range of emotions in this process, and having your own space to talk about your experiences can be beneficial,” he says. You can also then model positive behavior for your loved one.Reach out to a mental health professional specializing in substance use or behavioral addiction.Dr. Lira de la Rosa explains that mental health clinicians can provide a space for you to explore your concerns, your addiction history, and help you determine what treatment options are available for you. If you’re not sure where to start, reach out to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). It can help put you in touch with local treatment centers, support groups, and more. If you don’t have insurance, it can also direct you to the appropriate state-funded treatment programs.

Dr. Lira de la Rosa recommends working with both a psychiatrist and a therapist for the most effective recovery treatment. A psychiatrist can prescribe medications that help with withdrawal, cravings, anxiety, and depression if needed. A licensed counselor or psychologist specializing in substance use disorders can help address negative patterns of thought and behavior with cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). A combination of those two treatments can help you understand your triggers, learn how to manage your triggers and cravings, and find healthier ways to cope while in recovery, says Dr. Lira de la Rosa.

During the process, you may also need to address other parts of your life that have been neglected, including underlying medical conditions or mental health issues. Therapy may also help you to mend relationships that were impacted while using substances.

Dr. Lira de la Rosa also points out that some people may not be ready to live a life of sobriety. In these situations, he says harm reduction strategies can be used to help people cut back on substance use and have a healthier relationship with substances.

On another note, relapse is often a part of the recovery process. It doesn’t mean a person or their treatment has failed. It simply means their treatment plan needs to be adjusted or revisited.

Perhaps the most important part of recovery is that the person has to want to get better. “Sustained motivation is the cornerstone to treatment,” Dr. Mou says, but the onus is not only on the person in treatment. The treatment team also has a responsibility to help keep the person motivated in their recovery journey, he says.

What are the treatment options for behavioral addiction?

Treatment for behavioral addiction is typically centered around therapy, but can also include medication. “You may benefit from individual therapy to address triggers and withdrawal symptoms, as well as learning new ways to engage in healthier behavior,” Dr. Lira de la Rosa says.

Like chemical addiction, common treatments for a behavioral addiction include cognitive behavioral therapy and motivational interviewing. The goal is to change the patterns of thought and behavior and develop new coping skills.

How to help yourself or a loved one during addiction recovery

If you’re concerned about substance misuse or behavioral addiction, know that you are not alone. Finding support and practicing self-compassion can help you on your journey to recovery. Here are a few tips that can help you get started:

Find a support person

Confide in a family member, friend, or mentor who you trust. Forging a bond with a close contact can help you through difficult moments, but keep in mind that professional help may also be necessary.

If you’re helping a loved one through addiction recovery, Dr. Lira de la Rosa says it’s also a good idea to seek support for yourself. “You may experience a range of emotions in this process, and having your own space to talk about your experiences can be beneficial,” he says. You can also then model positive behavior for your loved one.

Reach out to a mental health professional specializing in substance use or behavioral addiction.

Dr. Lira de la Rosa explains that mental health clinicians can provide a space for you to explore your concerns, your addiction history, and help you determine what treatment options are available for you. If you’re not sure where to start, reach out to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). It can help put you in touch with local treatment centers, support groups, and more. If you don’t have insurance, it can also direct you to the appropriate state-funded treatment programs.

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