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Online Therapy for Drug Addiction

Phi Atratus
  • Jan 26, 2022
  • 6 min read
male junkie at the table with drugs and syringe

11.7% of Americans aged 12 and up use illegal drugs. This makes drug addiction, or substance abuse, a rampant problem that affects the nation’s health care system, crime rates, and employment rates. 

People with substance abuse disorder cannot simply drop out or quit. These people suffer from intense and often uncontrollable cravings, compulsive drug seeking, and drug use that persist even in the face of many negative consequences. 

Fortunately, substance abuse disorder is treatable. There are many available types of drug addiction treatment and therapies available for people with this problem.

Do I Have a Drug Addiction Problem?  

Addiction, or substance abuse disorder, is a complex condition where a person has uncontrolled use of substances regardless of harmful consequences. People with substance abuse disorder have an intense focus on using substances like alcohol, tobacco, or illicit drugs.  

This often leads to impairment of day-to-day lives. People with drug addiction will keep doing drugs even when they know that it is and will be causing them problems.  

You may have a drug addiction if you:

  • Often have bloodshot eyes and look tired
  • Have changes in appetite or eat less than you used to
  • Have changes in physical appearance, such as having poor skin, baggy eyes, and looking ungroomed
  • Are always craving drugs
  • Have money issues
  • Engage in risky or criminal behaviors, such as driving while impaired, despite knowing the consequences
  • Are unable to reduce or quit using drugs
  • Have difficulty completing tasks, such as at work or school
  • Have lost weight
  • Are irritable or aggressive
  • Are feeling lethargic
  • Are having trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Have poor physical coordination

If you or someone you know has these symptoms, you need to reach out to professional help. Going to therapy for substance abuse disorder is not shameful. Accepting that you have a problem and getting the help you need is the first step towards living a healthier, happier life. 

Do I Need Drug Addiction Therapy?

Repeated substance abuse has severe medical and psychological consequences. Every year, over 70,000 people die of a drug overdose. 

Research suggests that many individuals who develop substance abuse disorder are also diagnosed with other mental disorders or vice versa. This means that when a person has a drug addiction, they may also be battling an underlying mental health condition or at a higher risk of developing one. 

People with substance abuse are also likely to suffer from a substance-induced mood disorder. These depressive, anxious, psychotic, or manic symptoms occur as a physiological consequence of the use of substances or medications and may happen during active use or as a result of withdrawal.

Substance abuse disorder isn’t a personality flaw or a sign of weakness. Many people assume that people with substance abuse disorder willfully choose not to recover, but it takes more than willpower to solve addiction.  

When a person has substance abuse disorder, they may need drug addiction treatment to return to being productive and functioning members of their family, workplace, and community.

Drug addiction treatment can come in the form of therapy, medications, or a combination of both to cater to the person’s multiple needs, not simply their drug use. Treatment can occur in different settings, in different forms, and last for different spans of time depending on the individual.

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Which Therapy Is Best for Addiction?

Drug addiction therapy is aimed at reducing substance abuse by using a combination of group and individual therapy sessions. The focus of these types of drug addiction therapy sessions is teaching those in recovery the necessary skills needed to stay sober and navigate crises and other difficult situations without resorting to drugs or other substances. 

There are a variety of options for drug addiction therapy recommended for people suffering from substance abuse disorders. However, the process is different for everyone. The “best” type of therapy for drug addiction is the one that works for you, but this may not necessarily be the best one for someone else.

Here are some of the different types of drug addiction therapy commonly practiced by mental health experts.

1. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)

CBT is one of the most versatile types of drug addiction therapy. CBT may be applied to many different types of substance abuse disorders.  

This type of talk therapy focuses on encouraging you to question and examine recurring irrational thoughts. The aim is to phase out the negative, unhealthy thoughts that do not match their reality. CBT will help you recognize and change your maladaptive behaviors, develop healthier coping skills, identify risky situations and what to do about them, and prevent relapse.

CBT can be paired with other techniques as well as aid with co-occurring physical and mental health disorders.

2. Individual, group, and family therapy

Drug addiction treatment may come in the form of therapy guided by the therapist in different formats. Patients may join the therapist in a one-on-one session, with a group in a safe, peer-supported, and empathic atmosphere, and/or with the participation of their family, friends, or significant others.  

In fact, group therapy for drug addiction is common practice and is shown to be just as effective as individual therapy. Of course, you can often have a combination of these modalities. Drug addiction therapy works differently for everyone. The outcome ultimately depends on what will work for you.

3. 12-step facilitation

12-step facilitation therapy is a form of group therapy that believes people can help one another achieve and maintain abstinence from substance abuse. This usually begins with acceptance, or recognizing that addiction has several negative consequences, including social, emotional, and physical consequences. 

12-step programs typically involve consistent group meetings for discussion and mutual support. Please note that 12-step programs emphasize spirituality, which can be an effective treatment to some but an issue for others. 

4. Motivational interviewing

Motivational interviewing is a drug addiction therapy where a motivational interviewer encourages clients to talk about their need for change and their reasons for wanting it. Their role is to initiate a conversation about change and commitment, listen, and reflect on their client’s thoughts. 

This therapy helps those in recovery develop their own motivations and plans for how to move forward. This can provide them with a sense of control over their treatment.

This is usually short-term counseling and takes only one or two sessions, but it can also be included as an intervention on top of other, longer therapies.

5. Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)

DBT teaches people with substance abuse disorder how to regulate their emotions to avoid or reduce self-destructive behaviors. This form of treatment is effective in reducing substance abuse among clients with co-occurring disorders, such as borderline personality disorder.

This therapy works to reduce drug, alcohol, or nicotine cravings, help clients avoid relapse, and assist in giving up actions that reinforce substance abuse. DBT also helps people with substance abuse disorder learn healthy coping skills.

6. Matrix model

The Matrix model uses a combined variety of therapeutic techniques that focus on rewarding good behaviors and teaching clients to believe in themselves. This form of treatment emphasizes self-esteem, dignity, and self-worth.

The Matrix model mainly employs relapse prevention, family and group therapies, drug education, and self-help participation.

7. Contingency management

Contingency management is a type of behavioral therapy used for a wide variety of addictions that works to reinforce or reward individuals for evidence of positive behavioral change. This drug addiction therapy often involves providing monetary-based reinforcers for the submission of drug-negative urine specimens. This helps prevent relapse.

Can Online Therapy Help?

Due to the current social climate, it may be difficult to get access to a face-to-face therapist. Drug addiction treatment often takes a long time and requires consistency, so stopping midway is not a good choice. 

Fortunately, certain therapeutic approaches, such as CBT and other behavioral therapies, translate well into online therapy or online counseling. Talk therapy can be done from anywhere, and its effectiveness online is just as good as in-person therapy. 

There are also other benefits to online therapy, such as affordability. Therapy can be expensive, but online therapy is comparably less so than in-person therapy. Online therapy is also more accessible and flexible in terms of scheduling. There’s no traveling needed, and there are more therapists available at any given time. 


Substance abuse disorder comes with many negative consequences, and getting the right treatment is important in helping people with substance abuse disorder return to being productive members of the community.

Going to drug addiction therapy may be difficult and often inconvenient, but it is necessary for people with substance abuse disorder to help them lead healthier lifestyles. Fortunately, there are many forms of therapy available that can be done online.

DoMental has a wide network of therapists that covers a wide range of specialties, including drug addiction therapy. They can help you get the right therapy you need, anytime and anywhere. 

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