Restorations Therapy Blog

EMDR for Addiction: What is DeTUR?

by on Saturday, January 30th, 2021


Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) has been used to treat individuals struggling with addiction for years. However, a more specific approach known as Desensitizing Triggers and Urge Reprocessing (DeTUR) has been developed to treat addiction specifically. EMDR, on the other hand, can be used to treat other concerns such as depression, anxiety, PTSD, and panic disorders. Several facilities across the country have implemented DeTUR in their programs to help clients that are working to heal from addiction. Learning about this great form of treatment can open up an individual’s healing prospects and have them on the road to long-term sobriety.

What is DeTUR?

To understand what DeTUR is, you must first understand what EMDR is. EMDR is a type of psychotherapy that helps individuals recover from traumatic memories and the symptoms caused by them. DeTUR is an approach within EMDR that is specific to treating addictions and other dysfunctional behaviors. It specifically targets the triggers that cause the person to feel cravings and urges. Over time, the client will learn what their triggers are and the root causes of their trauma and addiction. They then learn how to reprocess them through desensitization, coping mechanisms, and relapse prevention strategies. 

DeTUR was developed by Dr. AJ Popky, who went through EMDR himself and created DeTUR after working with wounded warriors.

The Treatment Plan

When a person is undergoing the DeTUR protocol while in treatment, they will follow a comprehensive treatment plan with specific goals. These can include targeting the urges, addressing any underlying traumas, and teaching the individual relapse prevention strategies. 

Targetting the Urges

Targetting the urges involves getting to the root causes of one’s desire to use drugs or alcohol. Triggers are typically internal and external cues that cause a person distress. They can be thoughts, emotions, places, people, scents, and more. An individual must identify their triggers and then learn to desensitize them to help with no longer feeling the urge to use drugs or alcohol. Once the individual knows their triggers and can identify them, they will learn to engage in more positive behaviors that help them live a more functional and stable lifestyle. 

Underlying Traumas

Just as in regular EMDR, in DeTUR, an individual will learn what is causing their emotional distress by identifying the underlying core traumas they have experienced. These traumas are often the root of pain, even if someone doesn’t realize it. As they identify traumas, the individual will work with the therapist to reprocess them. This process will help them cope with the traumas in a new and less distressing way, which allows them to learn not to become triggered by the trauma itself.

Relapse Prevention

Because EMDR treats all past, present, and future events, it is essential to set the client up with relapse prevention strategies before leaving treatment. This way, they can identify potential signs of relapse and know how to handle them without getting overwhelmed. Because of the prior stages, relapse does become less likely, but the person should still be prepared. 

Some common relapse prevention strategies include:

  • Knowing the signs and symptoms of an impending relapse
  • Knowing personal triggers
  • HALT (hungry, angry, lonely, tired)
  • Self-care
  • Deep breathing exercises
  • Grounding exercises
  • Joining a support group
  • Reaching out for help
  • Having emergency contacts
  • Playing the tape through

Is DeTUR Right for You?

While DeTUR does help many people who have gone through trauma, it is typically only used for addiction struggles. If an individual knows what their traumas are or know that trauma is causing them emotional distress, they will most likely be referred to EMDR. However, if they know their behaviors are due to their trauma, DeTUR may be the best treatment option. DeTUR looks specifically at triggers and behaviors, while EMDR helps reprocess traumatic memories to help them become less emotionally distressing.

It should be noted, however, that EMDR and DeTUR can be combined. An individual can discover any triggers associated with specific traumas and uncover any traumas associated with certain triggers. Both treatments are also measurable, meaning you can see how the client is improving throughout the treatment. 

For DeTUR to be successful, an individual must want to go through the protocol and be committed to it. They cannot expect to heal if they are not putting in maximum effort into their recovery. Finding what is right for the individual can help them stick with the treatment, allowing them to heal and find happiness in sobriety. 

DeTUR is a protocol associated with EMDR that specifically treats those with addictions and other dysfunctional behavior patterns. DeTUR is successful because it helps identify triggers and traumas, allowing the person to desensitize themselves to them to reprocess them. This process will lead to better healing as the individual no longer feels distressed when talking or thinking about their traumas or triggers. Many treatment facilities across the United States have implemented DeTUR, including Restorations Therapy in Centennial, Colorado. At Restorations Therapy, we pride ourselves on helping our clients heal from addiction and intimacy disorders through our modern treatment modalities. We believe in treating the whole person, which is why DeTUR is so important to us. Together we can help you identify your triggers and underlying traumas to find different ways to cope. We will also set you up with aftercare instructions, including relapse prevention, to give you the best chance at long-term sobriety. Start your path to healing with Restorations Therapy. Call us today at (720) 446-6585.

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