This answer is from Monument Advisor Laura Diamond, LMHC, EdM, MA. Laura is the Counseling Supervisor of the dual-diagnosis inpatient detox and rehabilitation unit at The Addiction Institute of Mount Sinai West Hospital. She is also a licensed psychotherapist in New York.
Alcohol use disorder is complex and is often accompanied by co-occurring disorders, such as anxiety or depression, and is intensified by trauma, stressors, and societal impact. Each of these aspects cannot be treated solely by one treatment method, but the right combination of treatment tailored to your specific needs can alleviate and resolve multiple issues simultaneously.
The psychotherapeutic aspect of the treatment (therapy) is essential, with a combination of therapeutic methods such as cognitive behavioral therapy, motivational interviewing, and contingency management yielding promising results for alcohol use disorder. These evidence-based interventions provide safe spaces to assess an individual’s readiness for change, foster emotion regulation, process experiences, and restructure negative thought patterns.
Therapy also provides a platform to work on modifying self-destructive behaviors, obtaining healthier coping responses, building relapse prevention skills, establishing boundaries, improving communication skills, and increasing self-efficacy.
It also helps individuals gain the skills to be mindful and to focus on the here and now. It is hard enough to be present and to identify what we are feeling at any particular moment. This is impacted even further by substance use, as habits are formed by using a substance any time an individual does not feel like they can tolerate feeling “uncomfortable.”
Distress tolerance, a perception of someone’s capacity to manage negative or uncomfortable emotions, is one of the fundamental components of recovery. We need to learn to sit with our emotions, whether they are negative, positive, neither or both. Many times, the only way to do this is by implementing some form of mindfulness and learning to self-regulate.
One of the most useful steps to take during your recovery process is committing to a therapy program that is specifically tailored to you and your needs.