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When to Seek Additional Therapy for Substance Use Disorder

Substance use counseling is a vital part of opioid addiction treatment and gives patients a greater chance of reaching long-term recovery when implemented alongside medication-assisted treatment. While substance use counselors and group therapy sessions offer impactful guidance and support for those who attend regularly, sometimes patients need additional therapy to help them stay on track with their treatment and recovery goals. Various forms of other therapy are helpful outside of a clinic's outpatient recovery services that deal with the psychological causes of opioid addiction and use the latest addiction science research to hone in on those facets to help patients get the extra boost they need to work on improving their mental health.

Psychological Causes of Opioid Addiction

Many people struggling with substance use disorder also have an untreated mental illness. Conditions such as depression, anxiety, and somatization disorder are commonly diagnosed among those in addiction treatment. About 50% of patients studied with chronic pain who misuse opioids suffer from depression, 64% from anxiety, and 30% from somatization disorder, a condition that causes a patient to focus intensely on physical symptoms, rendering them significant emotional distress. Other mental illnesses commonly associated with opioid addiction include ADHD, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and PTSD.

Other Forms of Therapy

  • Psychiatry: patients enrolled in MAT may benefit from seeking out the help of a psychiatrist who can prescribe medications to help address their mental illness diagnosis. This can, in turn, allow the patient to more effectively work on their recovery goals without their symptoms getting in the way.

  • CBT: cognitive behavioral therapy is an excellent addition to a patient's treatment plan because it helps them further discuss and discover underlying feelings and actions that may be preventing them from maintaining success in treatment or recovery with a certified specialist.

  • C-ECT: if chronic relapse is a persistent roadblock for a patient, despite their hard work in treatment and counseling, the most extreme cases may benefit from methods such as electroconvulsive therapy along with pharmacology for any persistent mood disorders.

Suppose a patient is dealing with a dual diagnosis of opioid use disorder and a form of mental illness. In that case, it's helpful to supplement their substance use counseling at their treatment clinic with additional therapies with a specialist that can focus on their specific mental health concerns. This adds a third reinforcement for the patient to fight addiction across the whole spectrum and help rebuild the brain's pathways that have been affected negatively by opioids. This can be particularly helpful for people who experience frequent relapse or struggle to remain compliant with their treatment plan due to their mental illness.

Recovery is possible when all facets of the disease of addiction are addressed. Medications help subside the painful effects of withdrawal, allowing patients to focus on healing their other diagnoses, often involving untreated mental illness and unaddressed past trauma that may be making their recovery journey more difficult. Seeking out additional therapy can make all the difference for patients, and substance use counselors can give referrals or suggestions to those who would greatly benefit from doing so.


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