Alcohol program therapy involves treating both an alcohol addiction and a mental health disorder. Addiction affects anyone and everyone. Mental health disorders often cause or exacerbate substance abuse. To treat the alcohol or drug abuse at its core, it’s vital that the rehab programs treat the mental health disorder as well.
Out of all the mental health disorders, the link between trauma and alcohol use is strongest. Approximately 75% of Americans who have survived either an abusive or violent trauma has struggled with a drinking problem. This is known as a co-occurring disorder. It’ll require dual diagnosis treatment. To treat trauma, many treatment programs incorporate a type of therapy known as Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). The treatment provides relief from trauma.
Health care professionals at the alcohol or drug rehab will first assess each patient’s mental condition. If they determine that trauma is a contributing factor, they will recommend EMDR. Patients are encouraged to try several sessions of EMDR to see whether it’s an effective treatment option. Each patient will respond differently to the treatment. Here’s what you need to know about EMDR and alcohol abuse.
What Is Eye Movement Desensitization And Reprocessing (EMDR)?
Developed by Francine Shapiro in the 1980s, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a type of therapy that deals exclusively with trauma and anxiety. The treatment tries to desensitize patients from traumatic experiences by reprocessing memory. The goal is to make the associated negative cognition become more adaptive to change.
Through an eight-stage protocol, the patients are asked to recall the worst aspects or moments of the memory. They are then asked to move their eyes from side to side. This is known as bilateral stimulation (BLS). A variety of different movements can be used. On top of moving the eyes rapidly from side to side, the counselors can also have the patients:
- Tap their hands while following certain movements
- Tap their toes to different beats and rhythms from side to side
- Listen to various music tones
This helps to retrain and reset the brain, so that it can learn how to cope with the situation at hand. This treatment plan can lower the level of distress involved when recalling distressing events. It also improves cognition to create a more positive experience.
Basically, the healing requires patients to relive traumatic events. During that time, the addiction counselor will retrain the brain in an effort to heal it. The bilateral stimulation tap into the same biological mechanisms involved with Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep. This can help naturally reprocess memories and heal the mind.
Important Elements of EMDR
Many alcohol and drug rehab centers offer EMDR. The effectiveness of the treatment will depend on how the treatment is executed. There are some important elements in an effective EMDR therapy. These elements include:
- Learning how to process traumatic memories and disturbing feelings through bodily sensations
- Transforming the distressing event on an emotional level, so it becomes more positive or manageable
- Helping the patient feel more empowered when dealing with PTSD
Look for counselors that specialize in EMDR. They should have ample experience working with drug abusers who struggle with trauma. Regular EMDR sessions paired with alcohol detox and rehab can help many alcoholics become sober. These treatments can help ease symptoms in 78% of patients. It’s incredibly effective. The longer the treatment, the more effective it is.
The Eight Phases of EMDR
As mentioned earlier, there are eight phases to EMDR. The eight phases incorporate memories from the past and present, as well as hopes for the future. Let’s take a more in-depth look at the eight phases of EMDR.
The first phase takes patients back to the past. The therapies will use this time to assess the patient’s past and degree of trauma to develop a treatment plan. They identify which distressing memories or events to target. Most recovery programs will want to tie in the distressing events with their link to alcohol and drug addiction. The distressing event is the trigger that caused the development of substance use disorders.
Phase 3 to 6
From phases 3 to 6, the alcohol addiction therapists identify different targets. The targets are chosen based on three criteria. They include:
- A vivid visual image of the distressing event
- A negative belief or sense of self
- A related emotional or bodily sensation
While recalling the distressing memory, patients perform the exercises taught. They are then asked by the therapist to picture positive emotions and to practice a more positive belief. The intensity of the negative emotions is lessened and reduced. The type or length of the sets and the type of movements recommended will vary with each patient.
The therapists will follow the patient’s thoughts to see what happens naturally. When there’s no distress to the targeted memory, patients move on to the next one. If patients experience distress, the alcoholism therapists will bring them back on track.
This phase starts with the next session. Using the log, therapists go over the progress of recovery with each patient. They determine what’s worked and what hasn’t. Using this information, they then tailor the next couple of sessions to better fit the patient. Many patients will need to go back for several sessions before they start seeing permanent and lasting results.
Am I A Good Candidate For EMDR?
Many patients often wonder whether they are a good candidate for EMDR. They often are under the misconception that EMDR is only used to treat people like veterans who have gone through traumatic experiences. While EMDR is incredibly effective among vets, patients who struggle with lesser traumas can also benefit from EMDR. In fact, EMDR may be most effective in treating their situations. You’re a good candidate for EMDR if you:
- Struggle with anxiety that hinders your daily life and/or ability to perform at work
- Battle with stress on a regular basis to the point where it affects your daily life
- Have recurring memories of past events that interrupt you on a daily or regular basis
- Are going through a divorce or are having difficulties dealing with your parent’s divorce
- Have experienced childhood trauma, like avoidance or abandonment issues
- Have experienced natural disasters like earthquakes, fires, floods, and hurricanes
- Got into a car accident, even if it’s relatively minor
- Were bullied or outcasted by the community
Almost everyone has struggled with trauma to some degree. Even if the event may not be considered traumatic to others, it can be debilitating to others. Traumatic events, regardless of the degree, impact everyone in very different ways.
An addiction counselor from the alcohol addiction treatment center will assess your mental health. If he or she believes that you struggle with a traumatic experience, he or she may recommend EMDR. By treating the traumatic experiences in the alcohol rehab programs, dealing with alcoholism becomes much easier. Patients who deal with mental illness are able to get clean and stay sober for longer. Maintaining abstinence also becomes less of a challenge.
What Other Alcohol Addiction Treatment Plans Should Be Paired with EMDR?
While EMDR is effective in treating trauma, it also needs to be supported by other types of alcoholism treatment. This includes medical detox, which helps remove toxins from the body and ease withdrawal symptoms. You stand a much better chance with residential alcohol detox. In fact, without medical detox, alcohol withdrawal symptoms can turn deadly rather quickly. This alcohol abuse treatment ensures that patients stay safe.
Other than medical detox, patients should also try other types of behavioral therapies offered by the addiction rehab center. These therapies can treat other underlying issues. Other types of behavioral therapies will make a huge difference in healing the mind and body. Some of the other behavioral therapies that alcohol abusers and addicted individuals can try alongside EMDR include:
- One-on-one counseling to open up and deal with inner struggles and negative thoughts
- Family therapy to mend broken relationships with loved ones, like friends and family, that was caused by alcoholism
- 12step programs, like Alcoholics Anonymous, to give and receive support from others in similar situations
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) to retrain the mind on how to think and to identify and avoid triggers
- Motivational Interviewing to help enhance one’s inner motivation to quit drinking alcohol
Trying different types of behavioral therapies offered at the alcohol or drug rehab center can help patients recover faster. Patients may need to try several different treatment plans before finding one that works for them. Some patients simply respond better to certain treatments than others. It may be due to how their brain is wired.
The alcohol rehab center will track the patient’s progress to figure out the efficacy of each treatment. Our health care providers will then make recommendations throughout the entire recovery process. If you’re relying on health insurance to pay for your treatment at the recovery center, we can make sure that our plans fit your financial needs.