Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is one of the many forms of psychotherapy that was originally developed to addressed depression but it has long been expanded to help treat other mental health issues as well as substance abuse disorder. Unlike most forms of psychotherapy that tend to focus on dealing with the subconscious or digging memories from the past and involve a therapist that does not say much but mainly listens, CBT is largely focused on the present moment and it requires the involvement of the therapist. This kind of therapy is also problem-focused and time-bound.

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In cognitive behavioral therapy the patient’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are demonstrated to be largely connected as they influence the outcome of each other. The person’s thoughts impact how he will behave and how he will feel. The goal of CBT, therefore, is to help the patient modify a possibly distorted way of thinking that is causing him to have negative emotions or to act destructively.

Addiction can also be treated in part using CBT. By helping the patient achieve a much better awareness of how he thinks and its effects on his actions, he will be encouraged to adjust his thought patterns to overcome his substance abuse problem and adopt healthier ways to cope with challenges.

 

Advantages of CBT

The use of CBT has been proven effective through the years. In fact, many studies reveal the efficacy of this kind of psychotherapy as an addiction treatment approach. Below are some of the top advantages of using CBT as a treatment strategy for addiction:

  • CBT helps the patient to discover and have a deeper sense of awareness about his self-destructive behavior and what thoughts cause such actions.
  • In CBT, the patient is not left to come to a realization on his own but he is actively assisted by a therapist who will guide him in finding the connection with his thinking patterns and behavior.
  • CBT teaches the recovering addict essential and positive coping strategies that he can use to address life’s challenges.
  • CBT teaches the patient how to anticipate potential problems by identifying trigger factors and learning ways how to avoid or deal with them. These essential life skills are crucial to preventing relapse and maintaining long-term sobriety.
  • CBT teaches the patient how to identify, control and manage flawed thought patterns called cognitive distortions that affect his feelings and behavior about the world and everything around him. Some of the most common cognitive distortions include the following:
    • Focusing on the negatives
    • Dismissing the positives
    • Closed-minded thinking
    • Generalization or seeing a negative pattern on situations just because it happened a few times.
    • Assuming and concluding “truths” even if they are only based on one’s feelings and not on solid supporting evidence.
  • CBT teaches patients how to create and follow a set schedule of activities that are deemed low risk (non-drug-use related); how to distinguish and avoid situations that can trigger drug use (high-risk situations); as well as how to positively cope with difficulties, problematic situations, and challenges without resorting to drug use.

 

Reasons Why CBT Is Useful

Many forward-thinking addiction recovery facilities include CBT in their treatment program for the following reasons:

  • The effectiveness of CBT as an addiction treatment approach is supported by extensive studies and research.
  • CBT is structured, goal-oriented, and problem-focused, hence, patients with immediate problems upon entering the recovery center can readily find relief.
  • CBT can be participated in by a wide range of clients and can be carried out in different treatment settings, whether inpatient or outpatient and in a group or individual format.

While cognitive behavioral therapy is an effective treatment on its own, many types of research showed that CBT is more effective if combined with other forms of treatment. The challenge then for the treatment team is to find what other rehab approaches will complement CBT the most given the uniqueness of each patient.

If you or any of your loved one is suffering from substance abuse disorder and currently seeking professional help, make sure to discuss cognitive behavioral therapy with your rehabilitation team and how it can help you fulfill your recovery goals.

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