9 Multidisciplinary Addiction Treatment Techniques

By Christian Castaneda, LCSW, Program Director at Promises Malibu Addiction recovery cannot be achieved through one method alone. Research has shown that a multidisciplinary approach is essential for both healing from the ravages of addiction and maintaining sobriety. The best drug rehabs address addiction on all levels and offer support for mind, body and spirit.
group therapy session with people sitting in circle

Here are some of the therapeutic experiences that make up a multidisciplinary approach to addiction treatment:

1. Biofeedback

This method helps people understand how their brain functions. A therapist attaches electrical sensors to different parts of the body to monitor the client’s physiological state (e.g., brain waves, skin temperature, muscle tension, heart rate and breathing). Learning how to interpret and manage the brain’s responses can help people cope better with urges and triggers.

2. Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

Working with therapists from different disciplines can help people on many levels. DBT is a mindfulness-based technique that helps people identify and regulate their emotions, which is a key to coping with triggers. This approach can be used in both individual and group therapy to help people learn mindfulness, emotion regulation, distress tolerance and interpersonal effectiveness.

3. Acupuncture

Research has shown that acupuncture can be helpful in addressing many conditions, including addiction. Acupuncture addresses certain trigger points in the body and can target urges to use drugs. For those going through drug or alcohol detox, five element acupuncture is particularly helpful because it works on points specific to organs (e.g., kidneys, liver and lung) to help balance the related body part.

4. Group Therapy

Getting support from people who are going through similar experiences is essential in addiction recovery. You may recognize yourself in their stories. This can be transformative. There's also an abundance of support and mutual connection that happens in groups that often carries over into the real world. It is so important to have a tribe of people who work at being sober and who are also invested in helping others stay sober.

5. Massage

It’s important to get back in tune with your body, especially when detoxing from drugs and alcohol. Most people enjoy the experience of a massage and reap the added benefits of deep relaxation and the natural release of accumulated toxins in the body.

6. Mindfulness Meditation

Research shows mindfulness is beneficial in many ways, including reducing depression, anxiety and stress and helping with physical ailments. It also helps in addiction recovery. Because of the brain's ability to store memories and trigger a dopamine rush when you think about the fun part of substance use, it can be hard to resist cravings. Mindfulness meditation helps you learn to live in the present moment, which in turn helps you make wiser and healthier decisions.

7. Exercise

Studies have shown again and again that physical exercise can help with depression and anxiety symptoms as well as any number of health conditions, including addiction. It's important to incorporate physical movement in your life because it helps with both physical and psychological healing.

8. Somatic Therapies

Studies have indicated that trauma lies beneath the surface, in the cells and organs of the body, and past traumatic events can impact the central nervous system. Somatic work taps into the autonomic nervous system and releases emotional trauma. There is a myriad of somatic therapies, including psychodrama, Somatic Experiencing and hypnosis.

9. Trauma Therapies

Getting to the root of the issues that have led people down the path of addiction is a big part of the healing process. Often unresolved trauma is a contributing factor. There are multiple kinds of trauma therapy, including Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT, also known as tapping therapy) and trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy (TF-CBT). A trauma therapist trained in one or more specific methods works with clients to identify trauma and equip their bruised inner child with adult coping skills.

There are many ways to begin healing from addiction. To maintain sobriety long term, you can continue to build resilience by surrounding yourself with supportive people and activities that help you to continue to grow.

Stay active in your own recovery and be mindful not to get so confident that you feel you no longer need help. Having support, and supportive therapies, is a lifelong part of addiction recovery.

Posted on April 23rd, 2018

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