Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) has been used successfully as a mental health therapy treatment since originated by Dr. Aaron Beck in 1967.
CBT is a helpful tool for treating a variety of mental health issues. It helps a person to connect their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors to facilitate change and develop appropriate coping skills.
Because CBT has been a go-to option for a number of mental health diagnoses, CBT may also be helpful in treating co-occurring disorders that occur alongside addiction, like:
- bipolar disorder
- eating disorders (anorexia, bulimia)
- ADHD (attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder)
- OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder)
- PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder)
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How Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Works
CBT uses various techniques to show a person their problematic behaviors and help them understand that many of these behaviors are irrational, maladaptive, or illogical.
Many times, a person is unaware of their automatic thoughts, which can also be described as impulsive behaviors.
These thoughts and behaviors can be a result of fear, or lack of self-worth, that follow the person from a history of abuse, trauma, or addicted family members.
A person struggling with addiction is often trying to self-medicate and dull the feelings of pain associated with these automatic thoughts.
Using CBT to explore the memories that are connected to the negative emotions can help a person heal from the pain the memories cause. Healing with CBT helps decrease the desire and perceived need to abuse drugs or alcohol.
Additionally, CBT can help a person replace negative thoughts and addictive behaviors with more healthy and appropriate thoughts and behaviors.
Using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy In Addiction Treatment
There is a strong connection between depression or anxiety, automatic thoughts, and substance abuse. By using CBT during substance abuse treatment, it can help a person achieve and maintain sobriety.
CBT treatment methods work to develop efficient communication skills and explore self-help concepts to build self-esteem and self-worth.
By helping a person make these changes to their self-perceptions, CBT can also help a person get rid of their own insecurities and reduce the desire to use drugs and alcohol as an escape from reality.
CBT also teaches a person to acknowledge triggers that can occur and potentially cause relapse. Any situation that essentially prompts a person to crave or want drugs and alcohol is referred to as a “trigger”.
CBT helps a person recognize the situation that is provoking these cravings for substance abuse. It then encourages the person to remove themselves from the situation and to use specific CBT methods to manage the emotions associated with the trigger.
The techniques used during CBT therapy can be taken outside of the treatment facility, which is strongly encouraged. By practicing these techniques in a variety of settings, it can help a person in recovery prepare for unexpected triggers.
Types Of CBT Techniques Used In Addiction Treatment
According to the Beck Institute, there are several different CBT techniques recommended for use in addiction treatment. Some of these include:
- developing appropriate problem-solving techniques, instead of using drugs or alcohol when things get complicated
- delay-and-distract techniques that replace trigger situations and cravings with more appropriate activities like meetings, writing, calling a friend for support
- identifying thinking that is dysfunctional (“I haven’t used drugs in two weeks, it would be ok if I partied tonight”) and replacing it with appropriate thoughts (“I’ve been sober for two weeks, I’ll bet I can make it another three”)
- practicing appropriate assertive talking to decline offers of drugs or alcohol
- using available supportive sober options, such as support groups, sober friends, and sober activities
There are a variety of specific intervention strategies offered to individuals in recovery that will teach these skills to residents.
Using thought records, imagery, practicing appropriate behaviors, and positive scheduling are just some of the activities that may be offered.
Benefits Of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy In Recovery
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is action-oriented and result-driven. This engaging therapy method allows both the therapist and client to work together and manage/treat addiction.
CBT teaches coping strategies, reduces maladaptive thought patterns, and is adaptable so it can be individualized to each client.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy At Vertava Health of Massachusetts
Vertava Health of Massachusetts offers CBT as part of our intensive substance abuse treatment program. Each resident will work with a case manager to assess their individual needs and build a treatment plan that is comprehensive and includes CBT.
Developing and managing the skills necessary to maintain recovery are part of the treatment process offered at Vertava Health of Massachusetts substance abuse treatment facility. For more information on this and other types of treatment, speak to one of our treatment specialists today.
- Beck CBT — Treating Substance Misuse Disorders with CBT
- National Institute on Drug Abuse — Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide (Third Ed.)
- Psychiatry Clinicians of North America — Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Substance Use Disorders