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Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) for Drug Abuse

One of the essential components for treating addiction and mental health at La Jolla Recovery is evidence-based psychology practices such as ACT  or Acceptance and Commitment therapy.

New mental health treatment modalities have emerged in the past years, and we believe it is critical to implement them, given the outcomes and positive results of substance abuse. New treatment techniques have been developed for different dual-diagnosis disorders as well.

Acceptance and commitment therapy, or ACT,  has proven to be suitable for addiction, depression, and anxiety disorders. This treatment aims to help individuals accept life’s difficulties and experience wholeness and wellness. This therapy has six main principles: Acceptance, living in the present moment, self-observation, value systems, cognitive delusion, and commitment to action.

ACT for Substance Abuse

What is the objective of ACT Therapy in Addiction?

As an action-oriented psychological treatment that stems from cognitive behavioral therapy, the objective of ACT therapy in rehab programs is to help individuals from struggling, denying, and avoiding their emotions, and help them accept these deep feelings and see them as normal responses to the situations they face, and should not stop them from going about their lives. This is very helpful in substance use disorders such as alcohol and drugs and mental health disorders such as anxiety disorders , including general and social.

La Jolla Recovery aims to help individuals move away from the struggles, denial, and avoidance of their emotions. We want them to be able to accept and embrace these feelings, seeing them as a normal response to different situations and not allowing them to interfere with living their lives. This psychological treatment is vital in treating substance use disorders such as alcohol and drugs, mental health issues like anxiety, and general and social disorders. Our experienced team provides therapeutic strategies and guidance to those in need. We are here to help and support you every step of the way.

How does ACT help with early detox and withdrawal discomfort during rehab?

Once this understanding is reached, patients at La Jolla Recovery can begin accepting their hardships and personal issues and commit to changing their behavior, regardless of the events in their life and how they might feel about them.

As humans, we tend to avoid pain, even if avoiding it causes us more pain eventually. Unfortunately, avoiding pain generally drive people to substance and alcohol abuse. The temporary relief, gratification, and pleasure that alcohol and drug bring create a vicious cycle. This vicious cycle, in turn, will become an addiction.

Despite our natural inclination to avoid pain, it often leads us to more pain in the long run. Many people turn to substance and alcohol abuse as a quick fix for emotional distress. The temporary relief, gratification, and pleasure that alcohol and drugs bring can quickly become a dangerous habit. When left unchecked, it can be easy to become addicted to substances, furthering one’s downward spiral.

At La Jolla Recovery, we understand the difficulty of breaking an addiction. Our certified counselors provide personalized care and support to help individuals break the cycle of dependency. We are committed to providing you with the resources and guidance to recover and live healthier lives.

History of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

Steven C Hayes and his colleagues developed action and commitment therapy in the 1980s, dr. Hayes is renowned as a professor and writer. He has received awards from the Association for behavioral and cognitive therapy, written over 30 books, and published hundreds of articles.

ACT, or Action and commitment therapy, is based on relational frame therapy, combining classic behaviorism and mindfulness practice. This type of therapy is considered a third-generation in behavioral therapy; dialectical behavior therapy and mindfulness cognitive therapy are considered other therapies of the third generation.

Doctor Hayes and his colleagues tried this treatment with substance abuse disorder experimentally nearly two decades after being developed. Action and commitment therapy is relatively new compared to other medicines, and it’s based on the idea that individuals need support rather than being cured.

Carl Jung, the famous psychologist, clearly addresses this issue with his known phrase, “what do you resist persists.” Swallowing, inhaling, injecting, or drinking alcohol will not make the problems disappear; this behavior will often lead to more issues in the long run. ACT or Acceptance therapy specifically addresses this problem and addictive behavior with drugs such as cocaine, heroin and other prescriptions such as Xanax.

ACT in Mental Health

Acceptance and commitment therapy differs from most western therapies because Western therapies label symptoms as problematic or pathological. Symptoms are reduced by helping patients change their relationship with troubling thoughts.

Action and commitment therapy teaches individuals to practice skills that help them remain sober and clean. Once the patient completes a treatment program, he can help himself maintain sobriety.

Other evidence-based therapies used at La Jolla Recovery for addiction include DBT or dialectic behavioral therapy and CBT (Cognitive Behavior Therapy). We also believe in MAT adjunct therapies such as buprenorphine when resistance leads to more significant outcomes and reduces withdrawal and overdose.

The Coronavirus epidemic has intensified many mental health disorders, and ACT is possible to support these challenges in a social setting with healing in mind. The Coronavirus epidemic has increased the severity of many mental health conditions.

At La Jolla Recovery, we offer Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) to help those struggling with mental health. In this process, we provide individuals with a safe and supportive environment to express their pain and explore healthy coping mechanisms. Through this therapy, we aim to help you find peace and healing in a social setting. We are passionate about empowering you through transformational support and meaningful growth.

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women sitting on chairs in circle and talking to psychologist coach and audience discuss together act therapy

What does ACT actually do?

Action commitment therapy focuses on helping individuals change how they see and feel mental pain to improve their lives.
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy has three main components:
• psychological flexibility
• creative hopelessness
• mindfulness

ACT and Psychological Flexibility

What is Creative Hopelessness?

The primary goal of action and commitment therapy is to help individuals become more flexible psychologically. This allows them to get through negative thoughts, Life situations, avoid unhealthy habits, and be mindful to choose the right action; it Is what psychological flexibility is all about. Being honest with self is possible when approaches like these are taken. Addicts are known for changed perceptions, manipulation, and lies. The flexibility of thinking makes it possible to be open to feedback and approach honesty and truth.

Creative hopelessness is when the patient reflects on all the therapy and efforts to get through the pain and improve the situation by facing all the steps that haven’t worked in the past. This allows the patient to find creative ways to improve their life; once the patient realizes that it is impossible to remove all the pain and suffer from life, they can accept the fact and begin moving forward to perhaps be open to experiencing gratitude.

What is Mindfulness and how does ACT help?

What Skills does ACT provide for drug and alcohol abuse?

Recently the theory of mindfulness has become widespread. The idea is to be aware of the present moment instead of going through life’s events aimlessly. Individuals that live mindfully can live in the moment without judgment and live consciously.

There are six main processes or skills that acceptance and commitment therapy teaches to help individuals develop psychological flexibility:

  • Committed action
  • Observing self
  • Cognitive diffusion
  • Acceptance
  • Being present
  • Values

Commited Action

Observing Self

Committed Action means setting goals and committing to effective and purposeful Action that may help reach those goals. Action and commitment therapy suggest that we commit to acting, knowing that negative thoughts may appear through the process. With psychological flexibility, patients can move forward even when they do not feel comfortable.

Realizing that our experiences don’t define who we are is in the heart of the observing self means the patients learn that they are not what they experience by realizing that it’s just a thought. This process helps patients detach from their experiences while fully aware of the present moment.

Cognitive Diffusion?

Realizing that our experiences don't define who we are is in the heart of the observing self means the patients learn that they are not what they experience by realizing that it's just a thought. This process helps patients detach from their experiences while fully aware of the present moment.

Being Present

Alcohol and drugs are usually used to avoid being in the present moment; this is called experiential avoidance, and it usually leads to harmful habits. The point of being present is to fully experience and pay attention to the present moment, avoiding thoughts about an uncertain future or a dreadful past.
Being present aligns individuals with their values and helps them avoid judging their experiences.


The opposite of avoidance in action and commitment therapy is acceptance. Many people go through life avoiding suffering and pain; these aspects are every day in the human experience. Usually, alcoholism and drug abuse come from preventing this kind of discomfort. Through Acceptance, a patient chooses to let go of avoidant impulses and learn to be in the present moment with the uncomfortable thoughts and feelings nonjudgmentally.


Action and commitment therapy values give life meaning and all the other things that matter most to the patient. Our values guide our decisions. Action therapy helps align the patients' values with their actions instead of avoiding the present moment and making bad choices. Values are the foundation for setting goals.

Here at La Jolla Recovery, we know that the objective of action and therapy in treating drug abuse and alcoholism is to give individuals the skills to cope with situations and emotions that drive unhealthy behavior.

Strict strengthening of psychological flexibility helps substance use disorder treatment clients learn to manage pain and discomfort under challenging situations without drinking or using substances.

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