Psychoeducation in Addiction Treatment

Psychoeducation is an aspect of therapy that offers information, awareness and support for people in treatment for drug and alcohol addiction or compulsive behaviors such as gambling, sex addiction or eating disorders. It is also an effective therapy for people who struggle with mental health conditions such as depression or anxiety. It engages the left or rational hemisphere of the brain to process the given information and to regulate the often strong feelings/affect, which come with addiction. It empowers patients to take control of their lives again, making sense of the old saying that "knowledge is power".
When used as one part of a comprehensive treatment plan, psychoeducation increases the chances of long-term recovery in many ways:

  • Addiction is a chronic disease that affects the brain. Psychoeducation provides ways to understand the complex science of addiction in simple terms.
  • Completing treatment and resuming life with all its challenges can be stressful. Psychoeducation provides valuable information that helps alleviate worry and anxiety.
  • Psychoeducation provides an opportunity for clients to ask questions – even if the subject is difficult or embarrassing.
  • People in treatment sometimes feel tremendous guilt caused by unfortunate stereotypes and social stigmas about addiction. Psychoeducation reassures clients that addiction is a chronic, treatable disease – not a moral issue or a sign of poor character.
  • Part of successful recovery requires an ability to recognize stressful thoughts and situations that can trigger a return to drugs and alcohol. Participation in psychoeducation provides practical skills and coping strategies that help people in recovery diffuse dangerous situations and avoid potential relapse.
  • Psychoeducation provides valuable information about mental health issues that often accompany addiction, including depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) or Post-Traumatic Shock Syndrome (PTSD).
  • Psychoeducation involves discussions about the function of medications in drug and alcohol treatment and mental health.
  • Once an addicted person is free of drugs and alcohol, or from disordered eating, there is much to learn about successfully leading a new, substance-free life, including nutrition, belief systems, relationships and world- view. Learning and greater awareness are the keys to understanding and continued growth, which contribute to improved self-control and effective life-strategies.
  • Coping with everyday matters can be stressful for the newly recovered. Clients learn important communication skills that improve relationships with family, friends and coworkers.
  • Family members are encouraged to participate in psychoeducation classes, which helps them understand the condition and support their loved one through the recovery process without loosing themselves or overexerting themselves in the process.
  • Through psychoeducation, family members also learn about negative behaviors such as enabling, which are meant well but may make matters much worse. These behaviors, such as making excuses to a boss or paying overdue bills, prevent the addicted person from facing the serious consequences of their actions, which only delays treatment required for the addicted person to get better.
  • At Paracelsus, psychoeducation is an integrated part of our comprehensive therapy model. Family members are strongly encouraged, but not required, to participate in a two-day family program during the course of treatment.

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