Why Experts Recommend Therapy To Help Change Your Drinking
We get a lot of questions about how therapy can play a part in changing your drinking, in addition to our support groups, community support (right here!), and physician support. Our Advisor Laura Diamond, LMHC, EdM, MA, has answers.
Laura is the Counseling Supervisor of the dual-diagnosis inpatient detox and rehabilitation unit at The Addiction Institute of Mount Sinai West Hospital.
Even if you're not interested in therapy right now (that's totally okay!), you can hear about some of the skills and topics that specialized therapy might cover. And in the meantime, we hope you can check out some of our free therapist-moderated support groups, where you can meet our therapists and hear from each other. We're in this together.
Here's what Laura, LMHC, EDM, MA had to say:
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.