Substance Addiction Therapy: Treating Mental & Physical Effects

substance addiction therapy

Updated on May 31, 2023

Your mental health and physical health are the cornerstones to maintaining your well-being. How you feel physically and emotionally can determine your reactions to events, people or places. Emotions you can or can’t control are often caused by substance addiction or a mental health disorder. Let’s take a look at how different substances can impact your physical and psychological well-being, and which therapies can help you overcome their effects.

Physical and Psychological Effects of Substances


Most adults can have a drink and stop; however, approximately 18 million adults in the U.S. are dependent on alcohol. Their dependence can cause problems in their personal lives and their career. 

There are dangers to drinking too much. Your physical health can suffer. Some of the harmful effects on your body are:

  • Some types of cancers —  mouth, throat, larynx, colon or breast
  • Liver diseases — cirrhosis, fatty liver disease or cancer

Alcohol addiction can result from mental health disorders like depression, anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Heavy use can alter the neurological composition of your brain. Because of the changes, you can develop mental health disorders like depression or anxiety. Some signs of mental health issues connected with prolonged alcohol use are:

  • Irritability
  • Nervousness
  • Depression
  • Anxiety


Cocaine addiction can have a long-term impact on your whole health. The severity of your use, how often you use, physical health and how long you can affect your mental health. Cocaine can affect your physical health. A few examples of health problems caused by cocaine are:

  • Cardiovascular issues
  • Respiratory issues
  • Death

Psychological reactions to cocaine include:

  • Euphoria
  • Bursts of energy
  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia
  • Increased ego
  • Anorexia
  • Delusions
  • Depression

Don’t try to quit using cocaine on your own. A treatment center with a medically trained staff can safely guide you through the detoxification process.


Individuals with a history of heroin use have poorer physical health than those who never used heroin. Women who used heroin have a greater risk of physical and mental health problems than men. However, this doesn’t mean men don’t have physical or mental health issues.

Long-term use of heroin changes the structure of the brain. Over time the change in your brain’s system can cause:

  • Difficulty in making decisions
  • Decreased ability to control your behavior 
  • Decrease in your coping skills

Drug addiction and mental health disorders are often connected. If you are addicted to heroin, you can have these mental health issues:

  • Paranoia
  • Depression
  • Anxiety

If you want to stop using heroin, seek help at a treatment center with trained medical staff; do not try to quit on your own.

Substance Addiction Therapy

Substance addiction treatment is more than therapy addressing your use of alcohol or drugs — it’s therapy for your mind and body. When you rely on a substance like cocaine, heroin or opioids, you are trying to mask your emotions. Treatment takes you on a self-discovery journey. 

After you enter a treatment program, you can sit down with your therapist and talk about your treatment goals, mental health issues and how to replace dangerous coping skills with healthy ones. Substance addiction therapy is an opportunity to learn and grow. If you recognize any of the symptoms from above, consider seeking therapy.

Types of Substance Use Disorder Therapy

Several types of therapy can assist you in your recovery journey.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) is an often used and known form of therapy. Your therapist can, after an assessment, decide to use a specific method of CBT to help you discover your triggers. The foundation of CBT is how you think, feel and behave are connected and have a crucial impact on your well-being. 

The goal of CBT is to recognize your thought patterns, reactions and expectations. Perhaps you tend to be dramatic or take a specific situation and make it the standard for every situation. CBT teaches you to use healthy coping skills instead of harmful coping skills. CBT guides you to rethink how you respond to people and situations. First, you identify how your behavior affects your life. You can discuss with your therapist if your responses damage or help you. Once you establish how your behaviors affect you, the process of replacing negative coping skills with healthy coping skills begins. 

Interpersonal Therapy (IPT)

Interpersonal therapy is a short-term type of therapy that addresses mood disorders like depression. IPT recognizes that depression is not your fault; it is a medical issue and is treatable. When you begin IPT with your therapist will:

  • Engage you in treatment
  • Listen to you so they can understand you
  • Guide you to find healthy skills to take control of your mood and behaviors

Your therapist will help you understand the connection between depression and a traumatic event that occurred in your life. A traumatic event often triggers your mood; learning your triggers and how to employ healthy coping skills is essential to maintaining your mental and physical health.


After you finish your treatment program, your recovery journey begins. You should maintain your commitment to your well-being by continuing to participate in outside meetings, group or individual sessions. Maintenance of your sobriety is vital to your mind and body. 

Before you leave treatment, you can discuss with your therapist an aftercare treatment plan. An aftercare plan will help you navigate through potential issues. Aftercare or continuing care creates a supportive and caring environment. The facilitation of groups or individual therapy keeps you connected to the lessons you learned while in treatment. The connection can also help you return to therapy if you feel you are vulnerable and might relapse. Recovery is a day-to-day journey; continuing care guides you through it.

Mental health affects how you think, feel and react to your environment and the people you love. Committing to yourself by seeking treatment for substance addiction or mental health issues is a sign of strength. Your ability to understand your behaviors and how they are affected by alcohol, drugs or mental health disorders begins in group and individual therapy. Your therapist will treat you based on who you are as a person. Casa Palmera believes you deserve treatment tailored to your specific needs because you are unique. The caring professionals at Casa Palmera are here to answer questions so you can begin your journey to wellness. Call (855) 508-0473.


This blog is for informational purposes only and should not be a substitute for medical advice. We understand that everyone’s situation is unique, and this content is to provide an overall understanding of substance use disorders. These disorders are very complex, and this post does not take into account the unique circumstances for every individual. For specific questions about your health needs or that of a loved one, seek the help of a healthcare professional.