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Coping Methods Learned in Inpatient Drug Rehab

When you decide to attend inpatient rehab for a substance use disorder, one of the most important lessons you will learn is how to cope with your addiction and the issues it causes. Coping methods are a large part of inpatient care, and there are many ways you can learn to cope with your cravings, triggers, feelings of stress and pressure from others, and other issues you are likely to experience once you leave treatment.

Which Traditional Treatment Methods Teach Coping Mechanisms?

Many of the traditional treatment methods available in inpatient treatment will help teach you better coping mechanisms, especially those related to behavioral therapy. Though pharmacological treatments can be very beneficial to your overall recovery, behavioral therapy will help you learn how to behave in ways that are better for your recovery as well as safer for you in general.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “A central element of CBT [or cognitive-behavioral therapy, one of the most often used behavioral treatments in drug rehab] is anticipating likely problems and enhancing patients’ self-control by helping them develop effective coping skills.” These skills will help patients long after their inpatient treatment plan has ended and even years down the road if they happen to experience triggers, cravings, or other issues that may make them want to use again.

Patients are first asked to imagine scenarios that might potentially trigger a desire to abuse drugs. Then they are asked to consider a time in their lives where these triggers occurred and to follow their behavioral chain, or the chain of events associated with what they did after the trigger occurred, to understand how they could possibly behave differently in the future. Then patients learn “how to avoid or modify the trigger situation when possible” or how to better deal with the problem (NIDA).

In addition, CBT is a wonderful treatment for those patients who are experiencing issues with comorbid mental disorders such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and others. CBT can be used to treat disorders like these and drug addiction simultaneously to help patients avoid experiencing issues with either one that may trigger the other. This is very beneficial, as “compared with the general population, people addicted to drugs are roughly twice as likely to suffer from mood and anxiety disorder, with the reverse also true” (NIDA).

You can also learn about coping skills through other treatment types, including other therapies like contingency management, the Matrix Model, and family and couples therapy, as well as holistic treatment methods that focus on catering to the whole person and not just their addiction symptoms.

What Coping Methods Can I Learn in Inpatient Drug Rehab?

Aside from the CBT approach to coping where patients are asked to consider their triggers and anticipate likely scenarios where issues may occur, there are many coping methods that can be learned in inpatient drug rehab. The most important part of learning coping mechanisms is to keep an open mind but to continue with the methods that benefit you the most. No one technique works for every individual, and sometimes, you may need to utilize two or more coping methods in a difficult situation or even as you go through your daily recovery. This is why it is helpful to learn so many different coping skills and methods while you are still attending inpatient drug rehab.



Journaling during inpatient drug rehab is a great way to cope.

Journaling is one of the most commonly used coping methods for day-to-day use. Patients are often encouraged to keep a journal during their treatment program and to write down how they are feeling as well as how they believe they are progressing through their recovery. Many people are able to write things down that they would not originally want to say out loud to a therapist, but journaling can help them accept important truths. This activity can also help patients work out feelings of stress, which can be utilized after treatment to keep them from turning to a poor coping mechanism like drug abuse.


Another important coping method is exercise, which allows patients to improve their sense of physical and emotional well-being, reduce feelings of stress, and boost their self-esteem. In inpatient rehab, classes in yoga, Tai Chi, and other beneficial exercises are often offered to help patients work out their emotions physically. This is another activity that patients can continue after treatment has ended and keep as a reminder that poor feelings or sudden cravings can sometimes be treated with regular exercise.


This method can be learned through yoga or merely through different types of meditation that allow patients to sit and focus their energies. According to a study from J Psychiatry Practice, “Mindfulness has been described as a practice of learning to focus attention on moment-by-moment experience with an attitude of curiosity, openness, and acceptance.” Mindfulness is extremely helpful for many individuals who are learning to cope with other issues, those which may have helped cause their addictions and which were caused by their drug abuse.

Relaxation Techniques

Other relaxation techniques besides mindfulness and meditation are often taught in inpatient treatment, including ways to recognize stress, breathing exercises, progressive muscle relaxation, and visualization. Depending on what works for you, you can focus on honing your relaxation skills before you return to your everyday life, which will help you with feelings of stress in the long term.

Art, Theater, or Dance Therapy

In inpatient treatment, many patients experience negative feelings that they can then learn to channel into something beneficial or beautiful. These holistic methods allow patients to cope with their negative feelings, cravings, and any other problems associated with their addiction and create works of art. This can often be a great substitute to traditional therapy or an addition to a full treatment program for those who have trouble opening up in talk therapy.

Want to Learn More About Coping Methods?

By calling 800-430-1407Who Answers?, you can speak to a drug abuse counselor today about the possible coping methods you believe would benefit you, and you can even find treatment facilities that provide the specific programs you are looking for.

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