Most psychotherapeutic programs for substance abuse include both behavioral therapies and psychopharmacologic drugs. Psychopharmacologic drugs are primarily used to treat addictions to amphetamines, barbiturates, benzodiazepines, cocaine, opiates, phencyclidine, methamphetamine, and heroin. Most programs for drug abuse also include medication-assisted treatment in which the user will take prescription medications to help them overcome their addiction. Most psychotherapeutic programs for substance abuse also include a form of group therapy, where patients and their loved ones can come together to learn new coping skills for living with substance abuse. Psychopharmacological drugs can sometimes be combined with other psychological treatments, but they do not replace all of the psychotherapeutic therapies and they can only help to provide short-term comfort and relief from substance abuse.
Pharmacological addiction therapy for substance abuse focuses on the underlying addiction to minimize withdrawal symptoms and enhance overall functioning. The patient will be placed in a state of drug intoxication and then slowly weaned off the drug so that they will gradually begin to feel normal again. It is important to remember that withdrawal symptoms are not always welcome and patients may experience extreme symptoms if they quit abruptly. These symptoms will usually go away on their own, but it is best to get help as soon as possible in order to avoid severe and potentially deadly complications. Psychotherapeutic drug treatment is usually designed to help patients face their addiction by helping them identify the problems within themselves that created their addiction in the first place. This helps to help patients realize what brought them to the point of drug addiction and how they can change to avoid repeating the same mistakes.
There are two types of psychotherapy used for substance abuse treatment. Cognitive behavioral therapy addresses the thoughts, feelings, behaviors and circumstances that lead to substance abuse. Medication-assisted therapy uses drugs to treat the underlying illness in addition to the physical addiction. There are different types of medication-assisted therapy including psychostimulants, antidepressants, anticonvulsants and benzodiazepines. Each type of medication works differently and there is a certain dosage that needs to be taken. In most cases, doctors will combine the medication with psychotherapy to provide a complete program for a patient. This will help patients overcome their addiction and move forward in their lives, while avoiding long term consequences caused by substance abuse.