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Exposure Therapy

Deep-seated anxieties and phobias are at the root of many mental health disorders. Childhood traumas or distressing events can cause you to associate certain people, places or things with feelings of fear, inadequacy or helplessness. Facing these negative emotions in your daily life without a constructive way to process them often leads to depression, anxiety, panic attacks, post-traumatic stress or other unhealthy coping mechanisms. Turning to drugs or alcohol as a way of dealing with emotional difficulties is one of the most common causes of substance abuse and addiction. Jupiter addiction counselors and therapists help you work through these traumas and insecurities, which allows you to find healthy ways of processing negative emotions instead of numbing them with substances. One of the ways you can overcome your fears and feelings is with exposure therapy — treatment in which you learn to face your fears rather than avoid them.

What is Exposure Therapy?

Exposure therapy is straightforward — it is therapy in which you are exposed to the things that cause your fears and anxieties. This may sound extreme or frightening, but the important part of exposure therapy is that you face your fears in a setting where you can feel safe from them. Examples can include meeting a person who hurt you in a neutral location or visiting a place where a trauma occurred with someone you trust to support you. Exposure therapy works by giving you control of the situation, allowing you to retrain your brain to react to the source of your fears with confidence instead of anxiety.

Exposure Therapy for Addiction

Exposure therapy has been around since the 1950s, and historically was intended to treat severe phobias. However, within the last few decades, a subset of exposure therapy called cue exposure therapy (CET) was developed specifically to treat addiction cravings and compulsions. CET pinpoints the sights, sounds or smells that trigger your addiction — a familiar alcohol label, the click of a lighter or the scent of marijuana — and exposes you to them in a controlled setting without drugs or alcohol. Over the course of your treatment, your brain learns not to associate these triggers with the substance that typically followed them. Eventually, these triggers become normal, everyday occurrences instead of causing a compulsive craving.

With CET, you can overcome the parts of your addiction that feel uncontrollable, while regular exposure therapy can help you move past the fears and anxieties that may have led you to substance abuse in the first place. Using these tactics to train your brain and body to react constructively instead of destructively can be a powerful method of defeating your cravings and avoiding relapse. CET can also help you learn coping mechanisms for compulsions, fears, panic attacks or cravings that may come up unexpectedly. Additionally, this approach can be especially effective for those who have a dual diagnosis of addiction and anxiety, addiction and a phobia or addiction and a trauma-induced mental health disorder.

Exposure Therapy at Villa Tranquil

Our focus on holistic healing — treating the mind, body and spirit together — means that we use many different kinds of therapies aimed at building your mental well-being, including exposure therapy. With treatments like this, our goal is to help you learn ways that you can manage your addiction in your day-to-day life after your time at Villa Tranquil. Returning to everyday life after your time in our Jupiter transitional living can be jarring, and you may encounter difficulties that you didn’t expect or prepare for in therapy. But with treatments like exposure therapy, you can develop healthy coping skills that you can apply to any situation that might come up. Exposure therapy isn’t right for everyone, but our expert counselors are here to help you decide if it will work for you and guide you through your treatments at a pace that feels comfortable. You can learn more about the therapies we offer in Jupiter and whether they might be right for you by contacting us today at 561-294-0427.