The Biopsychosocial Model of Addiction
Recovery from addicction is a difficult path, but millions of people have recovered. Different tools provided by programs like Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous have helped many people. Therapy also helps with people assisting people to get to the root causes of their addiction and learn new coping skills for managing their mental health. Not only is therapy beneficial, but there’s a lot of evidence behind why it works. Over the years, there’s been some debate about which forms of therapy help the most. By having a better understanding of the psychology and psychotherapy behind addiction recovery, you’ll have the more knowledge be hind why it works and how.
The Biopsychosocial Model of Addiction
The biopsychosocial model was originally created for therapy when it comes to managing various mental illnesses. Therapists and psychologists over the years didn’t have a consensus around how to treatment mental illness. Some mental health professionals focused on the biological factors, which are the genetic components and how one’s brain chemistry may be off balance. The famous psychologist Sigmund Freud focused on psychotherapy, and this was primarily through psychoanalysis. Although the methods of Freud aren’t as relevent today, he set the groundwork for psychotherapy, and this helps many people find the root of their problems. Finally, there were other psychologists and therapists who focused on how a person’s social life and environment is affecting them. This can include family, friends, work, and more.
In the 1970s, the now famous psychologist George L. Engel came up with the biopsychosocial model of treatment. While many therapists were devoted to treating one particular aspect of a person’s mental struggles, he found it was best to treat people from all angles. This is now a widely accepted model that not only helps people with their mental health, but it also helps treat those who struggle with the disease of addiction. By focusing on all of these factors, instead of just one, people have a greater chance of recovery as well as long-term sobriety.
The Biological Component
There are both biological and genetic factors when it comes to mental illness and addiction. The majority of people who struggle with addiciton also have an underlying mental health disorder. Believe it or not, psychological disorders can be passed down through generations. Although you’re not 100 percent at risk of developing the mental illness of a family member, you’re at a higher risk. There are genes associate with depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and addiction. They’ve even discovered that trauma can be passed down through generations after studying the children of Holocaust survivors.
The biological component is based on chemical imbalances as well as parts of the brain that are either more or less active, but sometimes it’s bost. To treat the biological aspect of mental illness and addiction, sometimes medications are used. There are medications for anxiety and depression, and there are also medications for stabilizing your mood. For those struggling with addiction, these are all non-addictive medications, and some are used to treat bipolar disorder, ADHD, and other forms of mental illness. If you’re not a fan of medications, some symptoms can be treated through holistic approaches like meditation, which are scientifically proven to change how the brain functions.
The Psychological Component
Many of the issues people are struggling with come from various errors in thinking. When you’re depressed, the mind can say things like, “I’m not good enough,” “Why bother?”, or “Nobody loves me.” When feeling anxious, you may think, “This is going to be terrible,” “Something awful is going to happen,” “I can’t go through with this.” Some of these thoughts are tied in with the biological factors, but others are just patterns of thinking that people have become accustomed to. They’re like bad habits that have been around so long that you don’t even notice they’re happening.
Various forms of psychotherapy help you catch these thoughts and learn how to replace them with helpful ones. One of the best forms of therapy for this is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). CBT teaches you how to begin spotting these thoughts and dealing with them before they begin a downward spiral. There are also therapies like Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), which is helpful for managing intense emotions. By learning how to regulate your emotions, you become less reactive, which can save you from picking up a drink or a drug.
The Social Component
When you get sober, you hear that you need to change people, places, and things. One of the primary reasons that addiction persists and relapses happen is because of the people you keep in your life or the situations that you need to get out of. For example, being in an verbally, emotionally, or physically abusive relationship with a significant other may be leading to your substance abuse. Sometimes, it’s toxic relationships with family members. You may also be hanging around friends who encourage you to get drunk or high. It’s also possible that you have a highly stressful job that makes you want to cope by drinking or using.
In treatment, you learn to look at these social and environmental factors and assess what needs to stay and what needs to go. At the end of the day, the biological, psychological, and social components need to be addressed equally, and this can help strengthen your recovery. It may be difficult to do at first, but over time, it gets easier. You’ll soon see that treating all of these aspects of your life was the best decision you made. Ethos Recovery helps treat people who struggle with addiction by helping them address each of these issues, and we’d love to help you or a loved one, so contact us today for more information.
Author – Chris Howard
Chris Howard is the Founder and Director of Ethos Recovery. He has a B.A. in Psychology from UCLA and has served as a community advocate/mentor for men and women in recovery since 2010.