Psychosocial Treatment

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Psychosocial Treatment Goals

Psychosocial treatment includes numerous nonpharmacological modalities that have the goal of achieving and sustaining abstinence, changing patterns of use to avoid harm, and improving function (Neezer & Liepman, 2014). Psychosocial treatments seek to utilize communication skills in order to work through the presenting problem. Most psychosocial treatments aim to:

  • Teach coping skills
  • Encourage involvement in wholesome social activities
  • Improve interpersonal relationships
  • Increase compliance with pharmacotherapy (if appropriate)

(Nazeer & Liepman, 2014; MDQuit Resource Center, 2015)

Methods of Psychosocial Treatment

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT): CBT seeks to eliminate the negative feelings that are motivating the addictive behavior and prevention of future relapse through cognitive strategies (IQWiG, 2013; SAMHSA, 2015). Patients are taught to recognize thoughts, feelings, situations, or cues that lead to alcohol consumption (NIAAA, 2014).

Twelve-Step Facilitation (TSF): This treatment provides professional support for patients during the early phases of 12-step therapy (NIH, 2012). Recommending this treatment is among the psychosocial interventions recommended by the VA/DoD guideline for management of substance use disorders (2015).

Project MATCH

Project MATCH, a major collaborative and multi-center trial sponsored by NIAAA, investigated whether a patient's characteristics could be used to determine which psychosocial treatment type would be best for that patient. No single treatment is effective for all patients (Maisto et al, 2015).

View ReferencesHide References
IQWiG. Cognitive behavioral therapy. Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care. 2013. Available at: Accessed on: 2015-03-20.
Maisto SA, Roos CR, O'Sickey AJ, Kirouac M, Conners GJ, Tonigan JS, Witkiewitz K. The Indirect Effect of the Therapeutic Alliance and Alcohol Abstinence Self-Efficacy on Alcohol Use and Alcohol-Related Problems in Project MATCH. Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2015; 39: 504-13. Available at: Accessed on: 2015-03-25.
MDQuit Resource Center. Psychosocial Intervention. Maryland Resource Center for Quitting Use & Initiation of Tobacco. 2015. Available at: Accessed on: 2015-03-25.
Nazeer A, Liepman MR. Substance use disorders and psychosocial treatment. International Journal of Child and Adolescent Health. 2014; 7: 263-273. Available at: Accessed on: 2015-03-25.
SAMHSA. Treatments for Substance Use Disorders. SAMHSA. 2015. Available at: Accessed on: 2015-03-30.
VA/DoD. VA/DoD Clinical Practice Guideline for the Management of Substance Use Disorders. . 2015. Available at: Accessed on: 2016-11-15.