Drug and alcohol rehabilitation may utilize a variety of therapies to address the underlying causes and influences that lead to the development of addiction.
Regardless of the type of addiction, negative thought processes and unhealthy behaviors almost always play a role in its development. One popular form of therapy is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). There are a number of approaches to CBT that are regularly utilized in treating addiction and other behavioral disorders.
What is CBT?
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of therapy is the process of identifying negative thoughts that influence a person’s behavior. It is designed to help clients deal with a specific problem. CBT is considered a short-term (four to seven months), goal-oriented treatment designed to help patients understand the thoughts and feelings that influence particular behaviors: Behaviors that may not be able to be controlled through rational thought. Generally, this form of therapy is utilized to treat depression, anxiety and phobias that may cause problematic behaviors. Cognitive therapy’s ultimate goal is change the pattern of thinking or behaviors that fuel difficulties.
Although CBT is designed to address a specific issue for a client, the strategies utilized to tackle one area can be easily applied to other areas of life.
Cognitive behavioral therapists must first help a client identify problematic beliefs that enable negative behaviors. Identifying the thoughts, feelings and situations that enable maladaptive behaviors allows clients to become insightful in treatment, ultimately leading to self-discovery. Once problem areas are identified, therapy can focus on the behaviors that contribute to them. The client can then learn and practice positive behaviors that can be applied to real-world situations. Cognitive therapy is a gradual process that helps clients take steps towards behavioral changes. By progressively working towards a specific goal, the overall process becomes less overwhelming and easier to achieve.
How is CBT beneficial for those who struggle with addiction?
By addressing maladaptive behaviors that enable substance abuse, cognitive behavioral therapy not only helps treat addiction, it also helps prevent relapse. CBT seeks to identify and address problematic behaviors and provide clients with strategies for coping with triggers. Specifically, this form of therapy explores the consequences of continued substance abuse, the influence of high-risk situations and methods of identifying cravings. By exploring these areas, individuals learn to identify problematic behaviors while also learning skills to stop substance abuse and address co-occurring disorders that may accompany and encourage abuse.
The skills learned through cognitive behavioral therapies often stay with individuals even after treatment is completed. Further, cognitive behavioral therapy increases self-esteem, assists in developing more positive thought patterns and helps individuals avoid peer pressure. The process – a gradual one – is individualized to address the specific needs of the client and allows them to focus time and energy on practicing and mastering concepts.
Following the same methodology of outpatient therapies, cognitive behavior therapies can gradually taper off as a client’s condition improves. Once an individual has successfully overcome addiction, they may choose to engage in therapy on an as-needed basis.
Cognitive therapy has many benefits and plays a significant role in assisting clients by helping them overcome unhealthy thoughts and behaviors. These newly learned behaviors replace the cycle of negative thinking that perpetuates addiction, allowing clients to lead happier, sober lives.