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Psychological Approaches to Addiction Treatment

A. Tom Horvath, Ph.D., ABPP, Kaushik Misra, Ph.D., Amy K. Epner, Ph.D., and Galen Morgan Cooper, Ph.D. , edited by C. E. Zupanick, Psy.D.

Throughout this topic center on addiction, we have emphasized the Bio-Psycho-Social-Spiritual (BPSS) model of addiction. During our discussion of this model, we reviewed that the development of an addiction rests heavily on biological factors. However, recovery from addiction rests heavily on psychological factors. Psychological approaches to addiction recovery aim to increase a person's motivation for change. Helping people to accurately appraise the costs and benefits of their addiction increases their motivation.

therapist and patientOnce a person is motivated to change, they must actually take steps to change. It seems rather obvious but wanting to change is not the same thing as completing said change. People in recovery must make some very difficult changes in the way they think, feel, and behave. In this way, they can make wiser, healthier choices. Psychological approaches are ideal for helping people to make these needed changes.

In addition to changing thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, individuals embracing recovery may also need to restructure their social world. Our relationships with other people greatly determine whether addiction or relapse is likely. Thus, another psychological approach helps people evaluate whether or not their social circle is supportive of the changes they wish to make. Hence, the "psycho" portion of the Bio-Psycho-Social-Spiritual model includes some "social" elements as well. Psychotherapy may also help addicted individuals correct for developmental immaturity. Therapy also treats co-occurring disorders, such as anxiety or depression.