Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
When seeking treatment for an alcohol or drug addiction, there are many options. You may be required to attend a certain type of treatment through the court system, for example. It is useful to know about the various types of treatments available.
One of the most well-known addiction treatments available is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). This type of therapy may help people struggling with an addiction overcome their problematic feelings and thoughts. It is a treatment option used in many addiction rehab centers around the world. It helps people who are recovering from addictions to connect their feelings, thoughts, and actions. Cognitive behavioral therapy helps recovering addicts learn how different factors impact their recovery.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
While cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) helps treat addictions, it may also help recovering addicts who also suffer from some form of mental health illness. A person with an addiction and a mental illness has a condition known as a co-occurring disorder, comorbidity, or dual diagnosis.
- Attention deficit disorder (ADD)
- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
- Bipolar disorder
- Eating disorders
- Stress disorders
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
If you are suffering from both an addiction and a mental illness, you may benefit greatly from cognitive behavioral therapy.
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How Does Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Work?
Approaches such as cognitive behavioral therapy may be very helpful for recovering addicts. CBT helps show recovering addicts that they may have harmful emotions or actions that are not rational or logical. Their behaviors and feelings might have developed from environmental factors or past experiences.
When people with addictions understand why they are acting or feeling certain ways and how these actions and feelings lead to abusing substances, they may have better ideas about how to overcome their addictions.
Therapists who practice cognitive behavioral therapy are very active during therapy sessions. This type of therapy is focused mostly on achieving goals. Therapists and clients collaborate with each other to set and achieve goals.
During the sessions, therapists explain how the process of cognitive therapy works. They may even give homework assignments from one session to the next. Cognitive behavioral therapy is often used for a short amount of time to focus on a very specific issue.
Addiction Treatment and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Negative thoughts are major features of anxiety and depression. Anxiety and depression ar common in people with addictions. Cognitive behavioral therapy may help you change negative thoughts and overcome alcohol or drug addiction by
- Eliminating insecurities and negative beliefs.
- Providing tools to improve your mood and behaviors.
- Teaching effective and healthy communication skills.
- Assisting you to recognize and manage triggers.
These are just a few ways cognitive behavioral therapy may help you overcome an alcohol or drug addiction. If you suffer from an addiction, this type of therapy may help save your life.
Triggers and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Triggers are situations, people, places, things, or other factors that may trigger someone to use drugs or alcohol. Cognitive behavioral therapy may help you overcome addiction by teaching you how to handle triggers in healthier ways. There are many skills that may help you manage triggers better, including:
- Recognizing: Identifying the circumstances that prompt you to drink or use drugs.
- Avoiding: Taking yourself out of situations that trigger you.
- Coping: Using cognitive behavioral therapy techniques to alleviate and address thoughts and emotions that may cause substance abuse.
There are many techniques you may learn from cognitive behavioral therapy. You may use the techniques on a daily basis. You may work on these techniques outside of your therapy sessions and implement them in your life. You may use them at work, in social environments, or at home.
In addition, there are support groups for recovering addicts, such as SMART Recovery meetings, where you may implement these techniques. If you want to stay clean and sober, these techniques may help.
Techniques Used During Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Sessions
Therapists who use cognitive behavioral therapy often use certain exercises. The professionals try to help recovering addicts overcome addictions and manage triggers better. Some techniques used during the course of treatment may include:
- Thought management records – This is a technique that helps recovering addicts examine their automatic negative thoughts. They write their thoughts and look for evidence that supports or disproves them. Comparing and contrasting their thoughts will help people see them as harmful or irrational. The main goal is to help people find healthier and more balanced ways to view things. One example of this exercise may start with the thought: “My mom thinks that I always mess up. I am going to use drugs to forget about it.” By using thought management records, people may change their perspective: “My mom thinks I mess up a lot. I am human and everyone makes mistakes. I will learn from my mistakes and do better in the future.”
- Behavior experiments – This is a type of exercise that helps recovering addict compare their thoughts. They place negative thoughts against positive thoughts to discover the ones that may change their behaviors. Many recovering addicts respond better to self-kindness than to self-criticism. The experiments are designed to help people determine what is best for them. For example, they may choose between the following statements to see which one has a more positive impact: “If I am disappointed with myself after getting drunk, I will stop drinking so much.” or “If I forgive myself for drinking too much, I will stop drinking so much.”
- Pleasant activity scheduling – This is a technique that requires recovering addicts to write weekly lists that contain fun and healthy activities. The activities give them breaks during their regular routines. Items on the list are easy and fun to complete and promote positive feelings. Placing such activities on their schedules may reduce people’s automatic negative thoughts. Such activities may also reduce people’s urge to drink or use drugs. For example, instead of getting drunk after work, a stressed accountant may practice meditation or go to a yoga class before going home.
- Imagery-based exposure – These exercises are designed to help recovering addicts recall certain memories that caused strong negative emotions or reactions. They think about all the impulses, thoughts, emotions, sounds, and sights related to those particular moments. Doing this may help people reduce anxiety associated with particular memories. For example, a woman who recalls an assault may learn to reduce the pain associated with remembering it.
If you need help overcoming your addiction, you may want to consider practicing one or all of these cognitive behavioral therapy techniques.
How Is CBT Different from Other Addiction Treatment Therapies?
There are some major differences between cognitive behavioral therapy and other addiction treatment therapies. Compared to other therapies, CBT offers
- Hands-on treatment
- Activities to improve recovery during therapy sessions
- Collaborative work with therapists
- A focus on action instead of just talk
- Quicker treatment programs
- More immediate learning techniques for coping
If you need quick but effective addiction treatment, cognitive behavioral therapy may be the best option for you.
This type of treatment is very adaptable. Therapists and clients may alter CBT approaches based on each recovering addict’s lifestyle and needs. CBT is offered in both outpatient and inpatient treatment settings.
Several group and individual therapists are trained in cognitive behavioral therapy. Many addiction treatment therapists in rehab centers include this type of therapy in their treatment plans.
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