Substance use disorder (SUD) is a broad term that refers to a person’s inability to control their use of an illegal or legal drug or substance. An individual may initially start using drugs due to curiosity, to feel good, or relieve stress. However, recurrent substance use has adverse effects, often diminishing work and school functioning or destroying interpersonal relationships. Despite these consequences, when a person has a substance use disorder, they continue to use the substance.
This condition, also referred to as addiction, results from changes in the brain brought on by repeated substance use. These brain changes can affect how a person with SUD thinks and behaves. These thought and behavior patterns can lead to drug cravings, poor judgment, personality changes, and other effects.
Fortunately, there are effective treatments for SUD, including medication and therapy. One therapeutic approach for SUD that has been emerging over the past couple of decades is acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT). ACT helps those with SUD confront their symptoms by giving them the skills to accept their condition and change their behavior.
What is Acceptance and commitment Therapy (ACT)?
ACT was envisioned in the 1980s as an outgrowth of traditional behavioral therapy approaches and, later, cognitive behavioral therapy. The current ACT intervention that began as a treatment for SUDs in the early 2000s is based on relational frame theory, which highlights the importance of the relationship between the individual’s thoughts and substance use behavior.
Understanding the connection between thoughts and behavior is the crux of how ACT helps those with SUDs. In general, humans tend to avoid painful thoughts and past experiences. Specifically, for those with SUDs, avoiding negative thoughts that precede substance use can be a stressor that fuels this addictive behavior. However, ACT teaches people that they do not have to fight these feelings.
They will learn that they can observe them without having to act upon them. By not running away from painful or uncomfortable thoughts and past experiences, a person learns ways to tolerate these feelings.
Ultimately learning these skills leads to behavior change. Therefore, the therapy is not directly concerned with eliminating the behavior (substance use). But instead, ACT is focused on affecting the thoughts and feelings that lead to the behavior, leading to indirect positive change.
Central to the work of ACT is the overarching principle of psychological flexibility. Psychological flexibility refers to people’s capacity to adapt their thinking and behavior. In the context of substance misuse, psychological flexibility is crucial in the work of ACT. Using ACT is essential for learning to accept and reduce the associated urges and symptoms.
This fundamental concept is the guiding force that helps the individual to cope with difficult circumstances without using substances. Through receiving ACT, a person can learn that no matter what is going on in the present moment.
What Can act treat?
How Does ACT Work?
Psychological flexibility, the mechanism that facilitates a person’s adaptive thinking, is promoted through six core principles. Patients may develop psychological flexibility when practicing ACT.
The six principles are as follows:
In the ACT process, the therapist uses exercises to assist the client in working through the core principles. The ultimate goal of this therapy is to empower them to act effectively and live a valued life.
ACT & Substance Use Disorders (SUDs)
As noted above, ACT is an evidence-based treatment effective for many disorders, including SUDs. Particularly regarding SUDs, ACT teaches individuals to accept and reduce urges and symptoms. Research studies involving ACT and SUDs reveal that the treatment method is beneficial as a stand-alone therapy.
Studies have shown that ACT is effective when used in conjunction with other modalities. Consequently, those receiving ACT significantly reduced substance use or experienced complete cessation.
This therapy helps patients mindfully accept their thoughts while providing healthy coping skills. Mental health professionals can direct patients on what additional treatments can be used in conjunction to treat SUD.
Addiction Treatment: The AToN Difference
AToN Center, or AToN, is a luxury treatment center that offers a variety of residential and outpatient services, including:
Our private center takes a whole-person approach to treatment that distinguishes us from other facilities. We attend to the mind, body, and spirit at our center. AToN offers organic meals, massage therapy, personal training, hypnotherapy, yoga, and acupuncture. We also embrace an integrated treatment strategy, delivering an array of interventions at our San Diego location.
Additionally, our addiction rehab is esteemed due to its comprehensive features. Some of our features include individual and group services, holistic methods, highly trained staff, and on-site detox. We aim to provide patients with the tools they need for long-term recovery from substance abuse or other disorders.
How Does AToN Use ACT?
AToN offers several evidence-based therapies, including ACT. Specifically, regarding ACT, we firmly believe in the methodology of this approach as it aligns with our philosophy, which is our acronym, Aid To Navigation. Just as ACT seeks to motivate individuals to live their best lives, we aim to help you find your direction while in recovery. Indeed, one of the foundations that guide our success is helping you to find balance in your life.
We have trained therapists and psychologists who provide individual and group therapy and recovery programming. Our treatment offerings harmonize with ACT’s principles.
Getting Addiction Treatment in San Diego
Finding a facility to effectively treat addiction in a sensitive and comprehensive manner can be daunting. However, at AToN Center, we have the expertise and compassion that delivers proven results. AToN Center is the preferred choice for high-quality, client-centered, discreet care in San Diego.
Contact us today to find out how you or a loved one can get on the road to healing.