Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Addiction

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Addiction

Medically Reviewed By:  Dr. Patricia Sullivan, MD MPH on January 22nd, 2022

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is something many people struggling with addiction and other mental health issues consider. The right professional help can be the difference between success and relapse. But what is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and is it right for you?

However, with the endless amount of help out there, where do you start? One promising technique that therapists and psychologists rely on is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). Because CBT is adaptable to the person, it is often successful in reaching the goals of both the doctor and the patient. It is also a low-risk way to cope with addiction. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is an excellent place to start.

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction and any other mental health issues that come with it, please get in touch with us at (385) 327-7418. We can provide the resources you need to begin your journey to recovery.

Ending an Addiction is Hard

Many addicts and the people who care about them hope for “spontaneous recovery,” which is recovery from addiction without outside help, but this idea tends to do more harm than good. The belief that someone can end their addiction creates feelings of inadequacy and shame in the person suffering. Their loved ones breed anger and resentment that they haven’t decided to quit yet.

The truth is, ending an addiction is hard. Roughly 18% of people are successful in spontaneous recovery. People who face addictions to powerful drugs or have struggled for a long time have lower success rates. Mental health experts always recommend finding professional help for severe addictions.

CBT is a type of therapy that aims to improve how a person thinks. We all have destructive tendencies in our lives, which usually stem from how we think and process how we feel. These negative ways of experiencing life are sometimes rooted in the past. Traumatic events, especially if they happened when you were young, can impact you for the rest of your life.

Unlike its counterparts in psychoanalytical therapy, CBT is a problem-oriented process. Rather than discussing that your therapist analyzes then diagnoses, CBT focuses on your feelings. The goal is to help you understand why your thoughts are, how to change them, and overcome whatever problem plagues you.

CBT’s end goal is to replace destructive thoughts and behaviors with ones that help you with your goals. Your therapist will help you identify the source of your thoughts and actions. From there, you’ll learn coping mechanisms to deal with stresses and ways to shift your thought patterns. As therapy continues, you’ll evaluate which practices work for you and which ones don’t. You’ll build upon successful techniques and continue to learn new skills.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is Effective

CBT can be effective in treating several different mental health issues. PTSD, Obsessive-Compulsive disorder, anxiety, and eating disorders benefit from CBT treatment. It can also be extremely efficient for addiction recovery. CBT identifies how the addict’s thoughts and feelings push them to continue their addiction. From there, therapists can help them develop new ways of thinking about themselves and their lives, controlling urges, and coping mechanisms for stressful situations that would otherwise trigger a relapse.

Often, addiction comes with concurrent mental health issues. 50% of people with a mental disorder have a substance abuse problem. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is effective partly because it can tackle multiple issues at once. When a person turns to drugs to handle their depression, or when drug use is spurring on anxiety attacks, CBT can delve into the underlying issues. In time, you’ll learn positive ways of coping.

CBT is a psychosocial intervention: it deals with both the patient’s mental state and surrounding environment. This is especially important for addiction treatment. It’s often not enough to treat an addiction’s underlying cause (like depression symptoms). A person’s lifestyle, social circle, and the context of their lives all play a huge role in a successful recovery. CBT is also a more time-effective form of treatment when compared to some other types of talk therapy. Most CBT programs last about 16 sessions. If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, call us today. Our experts are standing by, ready to help you start your journey to a healthier life.

Individual Focus and Changing Thought Life

When you begin CBT, you’ll mostly be talking with your therapist.

For example, there are three main goals with this Cognitive Behavioral Therapy:

  • Learn to recognize negative thoughts.
  • Develop problem-solving skills.
  • Build confidence.

Your therapist will help you in various ways tailored to your situation. No two people will have the same experience with CBT. For instance, some standard techniques that may help you are:

  • Learning to face your fears rather than run from them.
  • Role-playing exercises increase your ability to deal with stressful interactions with other people.
  • Techniques to relax your mind and body, especially during periods of high anxiety.
  • “Homework” for your time away from therapy, which often includes reading assignments.

Your therapist will also focus on the people around you. Addiction can damage relationships, sometimes to the point where they seem irreparable.

You may also have people in your life that are harmful to your recovery. As painful as it can be, part of your therapy will be learning who to keep in your life and how to interact with them in positive, healthy ways.

While you will talk about your past, CBT focuses more on your current life. You may find yourself talking about things that make you uncomfortable, upset, or even angry.

Your therapist will support you through these feelings. The only thing you need to do is remember that what you’re experiencing is normal, and it is all part of the healing process.

Get Help for Yourself or a Loved One

CBT and Addiction

Research into Cognitive Behavioral Therapy suggests that it is highly effective, especially with alcohol and drug abuse problems. There are many Cognitive Behavioral Therapy techniques that you may participate in, including:

  • Motivational Interventions. The focus will be on changing the behavior that leads to drug or alcohol use and increasing your motivation to quit.
  • Contingency Management. This technique sets up a reward program for your continued abstinence from drugs or alcohol.
  • Relapse Prevention. Here you will identify high-risk situations for you and learn how to avoid them. This involves teaching you long-term thinking strategies to make decisions that benefit you.
  • Community Reinforcement. This approach focuses on changing your environment in a way that is conducive to your recovery and will help prevent relapse. Your friends and loved ones can be involved here, and your therapist will help create ways to make a sober living as appealing to you as substance use.
  • Behavioral Couples Therapy. Addiction can be a tremendous weight on a relationship. Coercion between two partners is harmful to both; the supporting partner is likely confused, hurt, and scared, while the stress of dealing with the relationship can increase drug use in the other. With couples therapy, you’ll improve your coping skills concerning substance abuse and your relationship’s health. Your partner will receive tools to support you through your recovery. The ultimate goal here is to repair the relationship without jeopardizing your recovery.
  • Guided Self Change. Briefer than most other treatments, this helps you focus on your immediate goal and develop ways to accomplish it.

Need help with addiction? Call us today. Our team of professionals is equipped with the tools to help you overcome the consequences of addiction. We can help you get your life back on track.

Can CBT Help Me with Anxiety and Stress? 

In a short answer, yes. While it can take many sessions with a therapist, CBT has more evidence to support it as a treatment for addiction than most other approaches. Part of the reason behind its effectiveness is that a therapist can pick at the many puzzle pieces of your life and help you make sense of them. CBT is about the here and now. Rather than fixate on the past or plan too far into the future, your therapist will help you set realistic goals, develop problem-solving skills, build your confidence, and avoid a relapse.

Additionally, CBT can help you develop ways to deal with anxiety and stress. Recovery is a painful process, and a leading cause of relapse is stress. Reintroducing yourself to friends and family as a recovering addict will be stressful. Feelings of being judged, dealing with people you’ve hurt or let down, and learning how to be happy sober will each present their challenges. CBT has proven effective in developing ways to deal with these stresses.

Furthermore, research indicates that patients retain CBT skills after treatment. You’ll enjoy a wide variety of benefits, including the ability to recognize and avoid dangerous situations, better ways of thinking about and reacting to yourself and your life, and a better understanding of why addiction pulled you in the first place.

Will CBT Be The Right Choice for Me? 

CBT can be extremely effective for some, less so for others. However, it is a low-risk treatment. The worst that will happen is you will have an adverse emotional reaction to some of the things being discussed. To determine if CBT is right for you, consider the following questions:

  • How much time do you want to commit? CBT often involves assigning things for you to do in your free time.
  • How comfortable are you talking about your feelings? Your therapist will be delving into things that might make you uncomfortable, and the success of this therapy depends on you opening up.
  • What other issues do you struggle with? While CBT is excellent at dealing with some types of mental health issues, it is not a cure-all. Severe depression or a general sense of dissatisfaction with life is sometimes best addressed with other types of therapy.

Are you unsure if CBT is right for you? Give us a call. Our specialists help you find the right treatment for you and your needs. Get the proper help today, and start your healthier life tomorrow.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy May Save Your Life 

Battling addiction is a tough fight. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy can help you change the way you think for the better, teach you to identify destructive behaviors you engage in, help you manage dangerous situations for your recovery, and keep you motivated to stay clean. CBT boasts an army of people who say it changed their lives.

While hard, recovery is worth the effort and having someone on your side can help you be successful. Let us be by your side and help you through this difficult time. Our team of experts is here to guide you to a happier and healthier life.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Addiction

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