Addiction, also known as substance use disorder or substance abuse, is officially categorised by specialists and neuroscientists as a disease of chronic brain relapsing [1].

When someone is suffering from a drug or alcohol addiction, neural pathways and chemicals in the person’s brain will have been altered to become severely dependent on an addictive substance.

This means that in order to experience pleasure, or even to relieve themselves of discomforting withdrawal symptoms, the addicted person will need to consume their addictive, but toxic, substance.

Not only do the unhealthy components of these substances (both drugs and alcoholic substances) lead to a rapid decline in health, the addicted person will need to consistently increase their consumption levels to experience the same levels of euphoria as before.

This will lead to a more severe level of dependence, and they will consume dangerous levels which can lead to an overdose.

Why is Addiction Treatment Important?


It is of the utmost importance that someone who is suffering from a physical or psychological addiction to drugs or alcohol seeks support or an alcohol or drug service in order to overcome their substance use disorder.

Without the help of medical professionals, addiction specialists, and treatment providers, subjects cannot expect to guarantee addiction recovery.

With the assistance of medical professionals and addiction specialists, patients will undergo a comprehensive addiction recovery plan.

What are Talking Therapies?

Talking therapies are a huge component of treatment programmes for not only addiction but behavioural issues and also mental health conditions.

Talking therapies for substance use disorder can come in a wide range of forms, including individual therapy, group therapy, family therapy, and more.

The Benefit of Talking Therapies Throughout Addiction Treatment

The purpose of talking therapies is to not only help counsellors understand what the addicted subject is experiencing, but it is to help the patient learn to articulate and externalise their feelings.

When someone is suffering from an addiction, it is often the case that they are unable to voice their concerns or pain.

There are many reasons for this, with reasons including but not limited to social ramifications associated with substance use disorder, unwillingness to acknowledge problems, inability to express concerns, and so on.

Some of the main benefits of talking therapies include but are not limited to:

  • Creating a safe environment: It is important that talking therapies encourage non-confrontational and non-judgemental communication. In doing so, the addicted patient can then establish a safe environment where they know for a certainty that they can communicate their feelings clearly without falling victim to judgement from peers.
  • Learning to communicate and externalise clearly: The mental and emotional burden of repressing your pain and feelings is palpable to not only addicted patients but to patients suffering from mental health issues and anxiety in general. By learning how to externalise their pain in a rational and constructive manner, patients will become more effective in developing healthy coping mechanisms. This will help create sustainability in the patient’s newfound lifestyle, and they will be less likely to suffer from a relapse in the future.
  • Problem-solving: Not only will the licensed counsellor or therapist help the patient overcome problems. By communicating these problems and discussing the variables thoroughly, they can come to solve problems by themselves. Not only speaking out but hearing your own problems, can help you learn to solve them, especially with the assistance of a licensed professional.

Types of Talking Therapies

Two women talking at a table

Talking therapies are not limited to one form. As we previously established, they can come in the form of individual therapy, group therapy, family therapy, and so on.

Even within these categories are varying forms of talking therapies which have different objectives in helping patients overcome their addiction.

1. Cognitive Behaviour Therapy

Cognitive Behaviour Therapy [2], or CBT, is a highly popular form of therapy which has been used to treat mental health conditions as well as drug addiction or alcohol addiction for decades. It is a form of psycho-social intervention, and its purpose is to help reconfigure some of the cognitive and behavioural patterns of the patient.

The patient who is suffering from addiction will display particular habits and tendencies which will have led to their addiction and will continue to exacerbate their condition.

CBT aims to fix these issues because psychological problems are often based on our unhelpful ways of thinking and behaviour.

The purpose of CBT and other psychological therapies is to help the patient identify these negative tendencies in order to develop a healthier lifestyle and positive coping mechanisms which can sustain their sobriety.

Behavioural therapy techniques are often employed in an individual therapy setting, meaning that the addicted patient will receive maximised levels of personalisation. This is imperative towards achieving recovery.

During this one-to-one therapy, the patient and counsellor will discuss their habits and variables surrounding their addiction.

As they communicate more and the patient remains committed to attending their one-to-one therapy sessions, they will become more effective in overcoming problems and developing healthier cognitive and behavioural patterns.

2. Dialectical Behavioural Therapy

Similar to Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, Dialectical Behavioural Therapy [3] (DBT) is a form of therapy which is implemented to help patients develop healthier coping mechanisms and cognitive patterns.

While patients who are suffering from addiction will benefit significantly from DBT, patients who are suffering from anxiety, bipolar disorder, depression, PTSD, and other mental health difficulties will benefit from DBT.

DBT is especially effective in treating patients who have mental health difficulties which make them very irrational and emotional.

If a patient is unable to control their thoughts and emotions, their behaviour is likely to worsen, which will inevitably lead to a more severe form of addiction.

DBT is a form of talking therapy which helps patients rationalise their illness and addiction. It will help patients develop coping mechanisms and behavioural strategies related to stress management, mindfulness, and much more.

3. Motivational Interviewing

Motivational interviewing [4] is an interesting form of treatment because it does not conform to most forms of behavioural therapy. However, it compliments therapies such as DBT and CBT significantly to help construct a comprehensive addiction recovery plan.

The purpose of Motivational Interviewing is to help reinforce the patient’s commitment towards the different types of therapy and also to increase their motivation.

This form of talking therapy involves a one-to-one format where the licensed counsellor, or in this case the ‘interviewer’ will ask the patient a range of questions about their addiction and the driving forces behind their recovery in order to help them rekindle and sustain their intentions to reach sobriety.

4. Support Sessions & Group Therapy

Support sessions and group therapies are also some of the most commonly known forms of talking therapy.

Often, people will associate this form of therapy with AA meetings, where multiple people gather in a circle in order to share their experiences about addiction and recover in an environment where there is no judgement.

What makes support sessions and group therapy so effective is that not only do patients have the ability to share with others, they have the ability to listen.

They can not only gain insight into the experiences of other people’s addiction recovery, but they can also resonate with them. This allows them to form a strong sense of community and also establish a new form of support network which can sustain their sobriety.

Because everyone who attends these support sessions is striving towards the same goal, which is to abstain and sustain their sobriety, positive social reinforcement is inherent to support sessions.

When addicted or formerly addicted people surround themselves with others who are living a healthy lifestyle of sobriety, it makes it easier for them to sustain their good habits.

5. Family Therapy

Family therapy can offer a range of benefits not only to the patient but also to their friends and family members.

While there are many different variations of family therapy, their objectives tend to be the same, which is to create a healthier living environment and more positive relationships between family members.

  • Family Behaviour Therapy: This form of therapy simply tries to help friends and family members of the addicted loved one to cope with their addiction. Similar to support sessions, a session of Family Behaviour Therapy [5] will be facilitated by a licensed counsellor who will encourage discussion and communication from participants. It also provides family members with a range of information about the addiction recovery process, and it allows them to gain new skills which can help them support their loved one’s recovery.
  • Functional Family Therapy: Functional Family Therapy is a form of talking therapy which can facilitate a better and more healthy relationship between an addicted patient and those that they consider to be their loved ones. Family Behaviour Therapy aims to do this by improving the levels of communication and transparency between family members.
  • Multidimensional Family Therapy: Multidimensional Family Therapy [6], or MDFT, is a collaborative approach towards family therapy and addiction treatment. It is particularly effective when treating adolescents who are suffering from addiction, and its purpose is to help change behavioural patterns within families in order to create a healthier home.
  • Behavioural Couples Therapy: Behavioural Couples Therapy is targeted towards partners where one (or even both) are suffering from excessive drinking or drug consumption. By engaging in open and honest communication within the presence of a licensed counsellor, the objective is to improve everyday life and their relationship functions and to allow them to support each other more thoroughly.

How to Access Talking Therapies

A woman talking on the phone with a ring on her hand

There are many ways in which one can gain access to talking therapies in order to overcome their addiction.

One simple way is to reach out to a treatment provider such as OK Rehab, and to enter a drug and alcohol rehab in your local area after undergoing the admissions process.

There are a range of inpatient and outpatient options, with inpatient rehab facilities typically requiring payment and outpatient options, such as the NHS, being free of charge.

OK Rehab can help you explore your options and see which option is the most optimal for your unique circumstances and recovery.

Additionally, there are other free options which patients can explore, such as Alcoholics Anonymous [7], Narcotics Anonymous [8], and SMART Recovery [9].

Each places a special emphasis on talking therapies such as support sessions and also the 12-Step Facilitation Therapy which encourages communication.

Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous are world-renowned, and groups are rife throughout many different countries. Additionally, SMART Recovery allows patients to attend meetings online, which can be more convenient for some patients.

While joining fellowship groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, and SMART Recovery is an incredibly effective way to improve lifestyle habits, they should be used in addition to addiction treatment providers.

When combined, patients can experience a range of benefits due to various forms of talking therapies.

When are Talking Therapies Appropriate?

Talking therapies are appropriate for patients who are undergoing treatment at a recovery facility, whether as an inpatient or an outpatient. This will be noted if a patient is extroverted or introverted, or potentially has a hard time discussing particular aspects of their addiction and recovery with their therapist.

Patients should understand that talking therapies will only go at their pace, and not anyone else’s. The licensed counsellor will not coerce patients to discuss topics which they do not want to discuss.

Patients may even find the first few talking therapy sessions to be awkward. However, as time goes on and the more they attend these talking sessions, they may see that they are more open in their communication and may see great results in their cognitive and behavioural patterns.

Managing Expectations Throughout Recovery

A woman reading in bed with a coffee

While studies show that talking therapies can bring great results and facilitate recovery, it is important to manage the expectations of patients. It is important to note that while they can be incredibly effective, talking therapies are the concrete answer towards addiction recovery.

Patients will undergo various forms of therapy, whether medicated assisted therapy, the 12-Step Facilitation Therapy [10], and much more throughout their recovery journey.

Additionally, it is important that patients remain committed in order to sustain their sobriety. Relapses are always possible, and often expected in some patients, so it is important that patients keep showing up to the different types of therapy in order to optimise their recovery.

The Importance of Licensed Counsellors and Professional Support

It is of the utmost importance that addicted people seek professional help for their illness. Those who attempt to overcome their addiction independently are far more likely to not only relapse but experience more severe symptoms as a result of their lack of knowledge, facilities, and resources.

By seeking the support of a licensed counsellor at a drug and alcohol rehab, you will be seeking support from trained professionals and health practitioners.

They are able to diagnose your illness, prescribe medication, and create a comprehensive recovery plan for your unique condition.

Licensed counsellors will help patients understand some of the negative cognitive and behavioural habits which they exhibit, and they will help them overcome these issues.

Not only does this increase their likelihood of establishing long-term recovery, it will make them more capable of facing other forms of adversity in life.

Other Forms of Therapy

Men talking during 1-1 therapy

Not only are talking therapies used throughout addiction recovery. Talking therapies are incredibly effective in combating addiction, however, they are even more effective when paired with other forms of therapy.

Other forms of therapy include:

1. Medicated Assisted Therapy

Some patients, particularly those who are suffering from physical symptoms associated with addiction, will need to undergo medicated-assisted therapy.

Patients may be prescribed medication from an addiction physician throughout their recovery period, or, they may undergo a more intensive process such as the medicated detox in order to overcome withdrawal symptoms.

The medicated detox is particularly necessary for patients who are suffering from physical symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, abdominal pain, diarrhoea, vomiting, or even seizures.

During this stage, an addiction physician will prescribe medication such as Subutex, naltrexone, or benzodiazepines, for example, in order to treat and minimise these withdrawal symptoms.

Medication will also be prescribed to help patients suffering from psychological symptoms, as well. Commonly, patients suffer from headaches, anxiety, or insomnia while they are undergoing the withdrawal stages.

Medications such as antidepressants and benzodiazepines will be used in order to minimise the severity of these symptoms, allowing them to be in good health and to undergo various forms of therapy.

2. Holistic Therapy

Holistic therapy is very different to talking therapies such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. The purpose of holistic therapy is to improve the physical and spiritual, as well as the mental health of patients.

The idea is that these free facets of health are intricately connected, and each must be treated.

Examples of holistic therapy include equine therapy, adventure therapy, yoga, meditation, aromatherapy, acupuncture, and more.

There are many benefits to be had from holistic therapy which talking therapies are not able to offer, such as improved physical wellbeing, relaxed muscles, and more.


[1] The Brain Disease Model of Addiction

[2] Benefits of Talking Therapy – NHS inform

[3] What is Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT)? – Mind

[4] Understanding Motivational Interviewing

[5] Family Behaviour Therapy\

[6] Multidimensional Family Therapy

[7] Alcoholics Anonymous

[8] Narcotics Anonymous

[9] SMART Recovery

[10] 12 Step Interventions and Mutual Support Programmes for Substance Use Disorder