Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Addiction – Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a form of psychotherapy that is focused on the importance of thinking about and closely inspecting our behavior and thoughts.
The goal of using cognitive-behavioral therapy for addiction is to help people identify certain situations, thoughts, and feelings that foster addictive behaviors. Once these have been identified, the aim is to employ ways of coping with them that is healthy instead of destructive.
Instead of being a distinct technique, CBT is a general term for several theories that are similar in approach but have varying characteristics. These include Dialectic Behavior Therapy, Rational Behavior Therapy, Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy, and Cognitive Therapy.
Components of CBT
In general, CBT for addiction is about understanding and fostering insight into why an individual chooses to abuse drugs or alcohol. Rather than assuming substance abuse is merely a product of using addictive substances, CBT posits that the person has underlying feelings and needs that have to be addressed.
Moreover, if a patient undergoes detox and withdrawal, direct dependence can be mitigated relatively quickly. But unless the patient is equipped with healthy coping skills and can identify the reasons why he or she abused drugs in the first place, there is a high risk of relapse when faced with risky situations.
In a nutshell, people in recovery must be able to replace addictive behaviors with positive, healthy alternatives. Other benefits include the construction of a support network, promotion of positive thinking, and teaching patients how to better withstand peer pressure and prevent relapse.
During skills training, the person begins to unlearn destructive behaviors and identify ways to replace these old habits. CBT assumes there are reasons above and beyond chemical dependence why a person uses substances as a means to cope with personal issues, such as never having learned healthy strategies that help one to deal with challenges.
Functional analysis is a process in which the patient and therapist work together to identify thoughts, feelings, and conditions that occur before and after the patient’s substance abuse.
This method helps the patient recognize risky behaviors and decisions that could lead to relapse, and provides insights into why the person chose to abuse substances from the beginning.
Some specific techniques employed CBT for addiction therapy include:
- Addressing patient doubts and fostering motivation to quit substance abuse
- Addressing subtle emotional or cognitive states
- Dealing with alcohol and drug availability
- Development of strategies to avoid risky conditions
- Development of strategies for dealing with cravings
- Exploring the positive and adverse consequences of continued drug use
- Development of problem-solving skills
What Does CBT Treat?
CBT can be used for the treatment of any substance use disorder, including those involving alcohol, opioids (prescription painkillers), benzodiazepines, methamphetamine, cocaine, and more.
CBT is also employed to treat a variety of mental health conditions. People who experience mental illness are a heightened risk of substance abuse and addiction, and indeed, is extremely common for mood disorders such as depression and anxiety to exist in conjunction with drug and alcohol use.
Evidence suggests that CBT it can be an effective treatment for a wide range of mental health conditions, including the following:
- Anxiety and social anxiety
- Panic disorder
- Bipolar disorder
- Borderline personality disorder
- Major depressive disorder
- Eating disorders
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder
- Phobias such as agoraphobia
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Schizoaffective disorders
Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy and Addiction Treatment
CBT is can be extremely effective in the treatment of substance use disorders. While results vary and is very much dependent on motivation, certain interventions have the best likelihood of success. These include the following:
- Breaking down motivational and cognitive barriers
- Use of approaches that target maladaptive behaviors
- Identification of deficits in skills and training
From an evidence-based perspective, CBT is among the most effective approaches to addiction treatment, but it is not the only one. Research has shown that rather than relying on one method, patient outcomes are more likely to be improved when a variety of techniques are employed.
For example, CBT has the potential to be more effective when used in conjunction with say, individual and family counseling and holistic practices such as yoga, meditation, and art and music therapy.
Our center offers CBT for both inpatient and intensive outpatient treatment. Inpatients reside at our center for 30 days or longer while participating in treatment. Outpatients receive similar services, but in a more flexible format – rather than undergoing 24/7 supervision, they reside in a private residence or sober living home and can attend to critical life obligations such as school or work.
Our programs are structured with various components of evidence-based treatment practices and holistic approaches to treatment that provide our patients with the knowledge and tools they need to be successful in their recovery.
If you or your loved one is suffering from substance abuse, please seek help as soon as possible.