Research Paper: Theory Application Substance Abuse

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Theory Application Substance Abuse

Over the last several years, the issue of substance abuse has been increasingly brought to the forefront. Part of the reason for this, is because there have been tremendous amounts of people that are being impacted by a wide variety of drugs. This is despite that fact that billions of dollars have been spent on educating the public about these dangers. Yet, beneath surface an epidemic has been continuing to take place.

Evidence of this can be seen by looking no further than statistics from National Institute on Drug Abuse. They found that in 2009, there were nearly 4.6 million emergency room visits related to a wide variety of substances. Out of this number, they subdivided them into various categories to include: 27.1% related to the use of non-medical prescription pharmaceuticals (i.e. prescription drugs / OTC medications / dietary supplements), 21.2% involving illegal substances and 14.3% associated with alcohol / other drugs. At which point, they determined that 80.9% of the patients were 21 years or older, while 19.1% were under the age of 20. ("Drug Related Emergency Room Hospital Visits," 2010, pg. 5) These figures are important, because they are indicating how despite the various efforts to deal with these challenges through: effective law enforcement and prevention the underlying problem continues.

As a result, a new approach needs to be taken that will compare the most effective treatment options. This will be accomplished by contrasting the use of the cognitive therapy with that of emotional behavior treatment. To fully understand how this can take place requires examining: how each theory can conceptualize / treat the issues of substance abuse, the strengths / limitations of each theory, the benefits / drawbacks of these approaches in counseling and discussing the gaps in each form of treatment. Once this takes place, it will provide us with specific insights about the underlying pros and cons of using each form of therapy in dealing with substance abuse.

How does each theory conceptualize and treat issues of addiction and substance abuse?

In this section we will examine the effects of cognitive therapy and emotional behavior treatment in dealing with issues related to substance abuse. To determine this we will look at a number of different aspects to include: the key concepts, how the process of change is taking place and the legal / ethical considerations that therapists' should be aware of. This will provide us with a basic background as to how each approach can be used to deal with a variety of substance abuse related issues.

Under cognitive therapy, the counselor is taking the approach that the patient is being impacted by their condition based on the way that think about particular events. Where, they want the client to share with them: the feelings, emotions and thoughts that are tied to why they are using different substances. Once the person begins to talk about these issues, is the point that they can begin to understand what events and the thoughts are impacting their behavior. This is when they will comprehend what is taking place and how they can create different strategies that will alter their thought process. As, this is providing them with specific insights about: the underlying causes of their addictive behaviors. (Beck, 2007, pp. 51 -- 63)

The way that this theory addresses the process of change is by allowing the patient to realize that they are creating problems in making their situation worse (i.e. hurting themselves, their quality of life, along with how they are affecting friends and family). This is the point that they must be willing to make some kind of shift in the way they are viewing their addiction. At which point, they will be more open to the ideas that are presented to them by the therapist. The two kinds of interventions that would be utilized during this approach are the motivational and pretreatment methods. The motivational intervention is when the therapist will work with the patient to: understand why they need to seek out treatment in a non-confrontational way. As, they want to show them how these issues are contributing to their addiction and the lasting impact that it will have on them. The pretreatment intervention is when the therapist will gather information about a patient. They will then come together with their friends and with family, to show them how harmful their addition has become. At which point, the addict is sent to a treatment program that will help them to effectively deal with these issues. (Ellis, 2000, pp. 429 -- 435) (Chan, 2003, pp. 129 -- 138)

The different legal or ethical considerations that the therapist should be aware of are that they could be pushing the addict further away. This is because these approaches are encouraging them to seek out treatment in a non-confrontational manner. Yet, the person may not have the desire or willingness to change. This is the point that they could appease everyone by only going to treatment so that they will be left alone. Another option is: that they could refuse to do so and will often bury themselves deeper in their underlying addiction. These elements are important, because they are showing how careful consideration must be taken when conducting any kind of intervention strategy. (Ellis, 2000, pp. 429 -- 435) (Chan, 2003, pp. 129 -- 138)

Emotional behavior therapy is when there is a focus on dealing with various emotional and behavior related issues that are impacting an individual's substance abuse. In this case, there is an emphasis on understanding the overall feelings that someone has tied to a particular event and the meaning they are associating with it. At which point, therapists will look at the underlying response of the patient and these feelings through the various actions that they have engaged in. At which point, they will begin to introduce new meanings and ways of responding to these emotions that are tied to their addiction. These elements are important, because they are providing a basic background as to how this approach will: improve their understanding of the situation and why a person continues with their substance abuse problems. (Suinn, 1971, pp. 498 -- 510)

The way that this process takes place during therapy, is to help the patient understand the emotional feelings they have tied to them and how this has lead them to seek out some sort escape (hence their substance abuse). Once they have a basic comprehension of these ideas is when they can introduce strategies that will help them to deal with these emotions in a more constructive manner. Two interventions that would be used during this process include: the brief and pretreatment procedures. The brief intervention is when the therapist is pointing out the effects that their substance abuse is having on them. At which point, they will introduce goals that will help them to change the way they are reacting to a host of situations. The pretreatment approach is when the therapist is dealing with the addict in a confrontational manner. Where, this will involve their friends and family to see the impact that it is having on them. At which point, the addict will have no choice but to go to treatment immediately. (Ellis, 2000, pp. 429 -- 435) (Chan, 2003, pp. 129 -- 138)

The legal and ethical considerations that the therapist should be aware of are that the addict maybe telling everyone what they want to hear. This is because they do not have the desire to: change and are trying to take the easiest way out of the situation. Once this occurs, it means that they will begin various forms of therapy. Then, down the road they will engage in the same patterns of destructive behavior. This is problematic, because the therapist must be on the lookout for these types of issues and they have to demand that the patient show consistent long-term progress. Once this occurs, is when the intervention will be more effective at dealing with these underlying issues. (Ellis, 2000, pp. 429 -- 435) (Chan, 2003, pp. 129 -- 138)

What are the strengths and limitations of each theory in treating issues of substance abuse and addiction?

The biggest strength of cognitive therapy is that it can provide patients with an effective way of dealing with their addictions. This is because, this approach is helping the patient to change their thought process and how they are viewing a host of different events that are taking place. A good example of this can be seen with a study that was conducted by Teasdale (1995). He found, that once the initial treatments have been administered is the point that the patient will begin to make significant improvements. Yet, at the same time this kind of therapy has been associated with various relapses that could occur in the patient. Evidence of this can be seen with Teasdale saying, "Cognitive therapy can reduce subsequent relapses after the period of initial treatment has been completed.… [END OF PREVIEW]

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