Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in Addiction Treatment

Also known as CBT, cognitive behavioral therapy is classified as a mental health counseling option that was first promoted in the 1960s when Dr. Aaron Beck came up with the methodology.

This therapy option can help you address the problematic thoughts that you have been dealing with as well as deal with the feelings that have been making it difficult to overcome your substance abuse and addiction.

Today, cognitive behavioral therapy is commonly used in the addiction treatment and rehabilitation movement. It can help you find connections between your actions, feelings, and thoughts as well as increase your awareness about how all of these factors can have an impact on your long term recovery.

Apart from managing substance abuse and addiction, it can also be useful in treating any co-occurring disorders that you may also be struggling with. These disorders include but are not limited to:

  • Anxiety
  • Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Eating Disorders
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

About Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Also known as CBT, cognitive behavioral therapy can show you that most of the harmful emotions and actions that you have are not rational or logical. These behaviors and feelings might be tied to your past environmental factors and experiences.

When you understand why you act or feel in a particular way - and how these actions and feelings can lead to drug and alcohol abuse - you will be in a better position to overcome your substance abuse and addiction.

To this end, cognitive behavioral therapists can help you identify the negative automatic thoughts that you have been dealing with. Automatic thoughts are based on certain impulses and come from internalized feelings of fear and self-doubt. They might also arise from the misconceptions that you may have.

In many cases, people will try to self-medicate these painful feelings and thoughts by abusing drugs and drinking alcohol. However, if you do this you are not going to create any new solutions.

Continuing to revisit these painful memories can, on the other hand, help you reduce the pain that is caused by them. You can also learn other new and positive behaviors to help you replace your substance abuse and addiction.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in Addiction Treatment

The automatic negative thoughts that you have been struggling with are often the root cause of your anxiety disorders and depression - which tend to co-occur at the same time as substance abuse and addiction.

To this end, automatic thoughts can increase the likelihood that you will abuse alcohol and drugs. Through cognitive behavioral therapy, however, you can overcome your substance abuse. It can do this by:

  • Helping you dismiss the false insecurities and beliefs that have led to your substance abuse and addiction
  • Providing you with the self-help tools that you need to improve your mood
  • Teaching you more effective communication skills

There are also triggers that could trigger your cravings for alcohol and drugs. These triggers will reduce your chances of achieving sobriety. Through cognitive behavioral therapy, however, you can deal with these triggers.

For instance, it can ensure that you are able to identify and recognize the circumstances that increase your risk of drinking alcohol and abusing drugs. It can also teach you how to avoid and remove yourself from certain trigger situations - whenever appropriate and possible. In the same way, you will learn how to cope by using cognitive behavioral therapy techniques to address as well as alleviate the negative thoughts and emotions that cause you to engage in substance abuse.

You can also practice the CBT techniques at the office of the therapist that you are seeing or do them on your own in a group setting or on your own at home. This could increase their efficacy over the long term.

There are several addiction support groups - such as SMART - Self Management and Recovery Training programs - that incorporate the principles of cognitive behavioral therapy into the self-help exercises that they use. As such, they can continue encouraging you in your bid for sobriety.

Common Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Techniques

There are specific exercises that your cognitive behavioral therapists will use to help you recover from substance abuse and addiction. Some examples of these techniques and skills include:

1. Thought Records

As a recovery addict, you will examine your automatic negative thoughts as well as look for other objective evidence options that support and disprove these thoughts. You will also list evidence against and for your automatic thoughts to contrast and compare. This is with the goal of helping you to think less harsh and more balanced thoughts by evaluating your mind processes.

2. Behavioral Experiments

There are also behavioral experiences that are comprised of exercises that contrast your negative thoughts against your positive ones so that you see the ones that are most effective in helping you change your behavior for the better. You might respond either to self-criticism or self-kindness. The important thing is to ensure that you figure out what would work best for you.

3. Imagery Based Exposure

Through this exercise, you will think of memories that produce powerful feelings that are negative. You will also take note of every impulse, thought, emotion, sound, and sight in the moment that you are feeling. When you revisit painful memories on a frequent basis, you can reduce the depression and anxiety that is caused by it on the long term.

4. Pleasant Activity Schedule

Through this cognitive behavioral therapy technique, you will have to make a weekly list of fun and healthy activities that you can use to break your daily routines. You should have simple tasks that are easy to follow and perform. You should also encourage your positive emotions. By schedule these pleasant activities, you can reduce your negative automatic thoughts - as well as reduce the need that you have drink alcohol or use drugs.

Getting Help

Overcoming a substance abuse problem is never easy. However, with therapy options such as cognitive behavioral therapy, the process might move much more effectively for you in the long term.

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