The Sober Living AZ Blog

Why Certain Addiction Treatment Don’t Work For Everyone

Posted on 12/04/19: Addiction Treatment

There are hundreds of forms of addiction treatment out there, but oftentimes treatment centers or programs will only offer a few kinds. But addiction is a complex disease, and when co-occurring with mental health disorders, it can be difficult to treat effectively if one is not being given the proper tools. We are going to discuss why certain forms of addiction treatment don’t work for everyone, and how to find the right program for you based on your individual needs. 

Why there is no “one size fits all” treatment:

Dual-Diagnosis/Co-Occurring Disorders

Dual-Diagnosis (also referred to as co-occurring disorders) is a term for people who are experiencing one or more mental health or behavioral issues simultaneously. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 45 percent of people with addiction have a co-occurring mental health disorder. The different combinations of co-occurring disorders can be endless, and each one interplays with the other in varying ways. A person with schizophrenia can also be an alcoholic. Someone with bipolar disorder can also be hooked on meth. This is because having a mental health disorder often leads to a person developing an addiction to self-medicate, or vice versa, as the drugs and/or alcohol begin to cause issues in their lives.

Unfortunately, the way the U.S. healthcare system works is in one of two ways:

  1. Sequentially. The addiction is attempted to be treated first, and then after that is “solved”, the co-occurring psychiatric ailment is then addressed. This creates a problem in that the time frame between getting help for the addiction to getting help for the psychiatric disorder is often too long, causing the individual to relapse in-between. Not to mention, this disregards the cause and effect nature of addiction and mental health disorders.
  2. Separately. The addiction and psychiatric disorder are treated simultaneously, but in separate care facilities by different professionals. This is an issue, because the healthcare professionals may not always communicate with each other effectively, and perhaps be tentative with treatment as not to “undo” what the other has put in place. 

As you may know, however, addiction develops as a result of a person attempting to numb emotional pain, whether it be from trauma, anxiety, depression, or any number of chemical imbalances in the brain which are causing them suffering. By treating diagnoses simultaneously, you can address all of these issues at the same time. It helps to understand why the brain works the way it does, and develop the necessary coping skills to help combat negative thoughts and feelings stemming from one’s addiction and/or mental health disorder.



Studies that have examined identical twins, fraternal twins, adoptees, and siblings have found evidence that suggests that as much as 50 percent of a person’s risk of becoming addicted to drugs is dependent on his or her genetic makeup. A look into a person’s genetic history can tell your healthcare provider if they need to adjust or change treatment based on any number of factors. 


Simple exposure to drugs in the household can also increase a person’s likelihood to become addicted. If a person’s parents or siblings, or other members who reside within the household are bringing drugs in and out of the home consistently, or even using in the presence of other family members, this can instill a stronger vulnerability in those others in the house. 

Parents who struggle with substance abuse issues are often unable to properly care for themselves, let alone their children. This leads to a situation where the children are being neglected, which can instill emotional issues and trauma. Unearthing and addressing past trauma is key to treating addiction, and those who have an addiction or mental health disorder as a result of things that occurred in their childhood will have different needs than those who may have experienced trauma later in life, or different kinds of trauma. 

How to choose the right program for you

A good treatment program will likely incorporate multiple forms of counseling, as well as shift and update treatment strategy over time based on an individual’s needs and response to the existing plan. Here are some common types of therapy and what types of disorders they are typically helpful in treating: 

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

CBT is helpful because it teaches one to learn to recognize triggers and use healthy coping skills to prevent a recurrence. This type of therapy is driven by the patient’s own goals and takes a hands-on, practical approach to problem-solving. Eventually, the individual should be able to change their negative thinking to prevent negative thought spirals.

This kind of therapy is most helpful for those who have somewhat clearly defined goals, as it is a very goal-oriented therapy.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

DBT is actually a form of cognitive-behavioral therapy. The main goals of this type of therapy are to teach people to live in the moment, cope with stress in healthy ways, better regulate their emotions, and strengthen the relationships in their lives.

This therapy is often used to treat people with borderline personality disorder (BPD), but can also be effective in situations where the person exhibits self-destructive behavior such as eating disorders, substance abuse disorders, etc. It can also be used to treat post-traumatic stress disorder.

Contingency Management (CM)

Contingency Management can also be effective in the treatment and enhancement of a variety of types of disorders related to substance use, such as alcohol, opioids, marijuana, and stimulant. The main advantage of CM is that it can reduce the two major therapeutic problems: drop out and relapse. This approach provides material rewards as motivations for desirable behaviors, such as maintaining sobriety. This kind of therapy might be good for someone who’s main issues stem from substance abuse and are at high risk for relapsing.

Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT)

This allows people to consider their own thoughts and then helps them develop better behaviors to think positively and in a more rational manner. REBT is based on an assumption of rational thinking; external circumstances don’t give you a sense of satisfaction or unhappiness.

12-Step Program

The 12-step program is most commonly known in the addiction recovery community. It strives to encourage continued abstinence by involving people in 12-step peer support groups in recovery. While the 12-step program has been effective for hundreds of thousands of people struggling with addiction, it is by no means a cure-all for every individual. In fact, the program isn’t suitable for some, and that’s okay. 

In conclusion…

A holistic, individualized approach to treatment is always the best way to go. After all, no one person is exactly the same, and they should be treated as such. It is no different in recovery for addiction. You deserve the treatment that is tailored to meet your needs, so don’t be afraid to be selective with the treatment program you choose.

If you or someone you know needs help with addiction, contact Sober Living of AZ now to get the help you need. Sober Living offers an acclaimed recovery environment that merges upscale and luxury accommodations with affordability, clinical expertise and an unwavering commitment to patient care and aftercare. Call us now at 602-737-2458.

Content for Scottsdale Recovery Center and Arizona Addiction Recovery Centers created by Cohn Media, LLC. Passionate and creative writing and broadcasting, covering the following industries: addiction rehab, health care, entertainment, technology and advocate of clear communication, positivity and humanity at its best.

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