Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) aims to provide a space where people with substance use disorder (SUD) can learn to overcome challenges by accepting rather than avoiding uncomfortable situations and truths. A 2020 study reported the following. “The core of ACT, when used in SUD treatment, is guiding people to accept the urges and symptoms associated with substance misuse (acceptance) and use psychological flexibility and value-based interventions to reduce those urges and the symptoms (commitment).” Depression and SUD are a few conditions that benefit the most from ACT.
Depression and SUD have several overlapping risk factors. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 8% of American adults experienced depression during 2013-2016. That number goes up substantially for individuals with lower income. Some figures put the percentage of depression among adults as high as 15.8% for those living below the poverty line.
Lower socioeconomic status is also a significant risk factor for developing substance use disorder. A 2013 statistical analysis by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reported that the rate of drug use among unemployed individuals was 18.2% compared to 9.1% for those who had employment. You can successfully treat the combination of depression and SUD using ACT.
Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) incorporates several methods to show you positive ways to overcome symptoms of depression by encouraging you to accept challenging or unwelcome situations and make changes where possible to improve your wellbeing and quality of life. The letters A-C-T can also stand for Accept – Choose – Take Action, which perfectly encapsulates what you will learn during acceptance and commitment therapy.
The primary things you will learn in ACT sessions are:
The United States Department of Veterans Affairs lists the following ways that acceptance and commitment therapy for depression (ACT-D) is a highly effective variant for people in recovery who have depression as a dual diagnosis.
What to expect from therapy will depend on your therapist and where you are in your recovery journey. Your care plan might include different approaches depending on your current mental health needs. An ACT session typically consists of the following components:
Learning to accept yourself, flaws and all, and the circumstances that you have lived through will go a long way in reducing overall stress and finding peace with yourself. ACT can help you accomplish that by providing you with a place to learn how to ask the right questions to be introspective in a healthy way. Self-reflection can lead to improved self-esteem and a better understanding of what you want out of your life. This form of psychotherapy can be valuable to those in recovery.