How Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is Used in Addiction Treatment

cognitive behavioral therapy in addiction treatment

How Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is Used in Addiction Treatment

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is one of the most frequently used therapies in addiction treatment. It is a counseling method that helps people with mental illness or substance use disorder make connections between their feelings, thoughts, and actions. In the process, when cognitive behavioral therapy is used in addiction treatment, it helps build patient awareness around how their thoughts, actions, and feelings will influence their recovery.

Addiction is a disease of the mind and body. As a result, it affects nearly every aspect of a person’s life – the way they think, feel, and perceive the world around them. This can lead to the development of unhealthy coping skills and habits that are difficult to break in early sobriety.

When a person gets sober, he or she will need to let go of these old behaviors and thought processes and exchange them for more positive habits and living skills. This change can be accomplished through CBT.

What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

CBT is a type of “talk therapy” or “psychotherapy” that uses talking between a patient and a therapist to promote healing and healthy behaviors. While other types of psychoanalysis focus heavily on past actions and behaviors, CBT is an approach that encourages patients to look at current dysfunctional patterns and how they are affecting the patient’s daily life.[1]

According to the American Psychological Association (APA), CBT is based on several core principles, including:

  1. Psychological problems are based, in part, on faulty or unhelpful ways of thinking.
  2. Psychological problems are based, in part, on learned patterns of unhelpful behavior.
  3. People suffering from psychological problems can learn better ways of coping with them, thereby relieving their symptoms and becoming more effective in their lives.

In addition to addiction, this approach is also successful in treating:

  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Anxiety
  • Panic Disorder
  • Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
  • Depression
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Eating Disorders
  • Phobias
  • Schizophrenia
  • Sleep Disorders

The one characteristic all of these conditions have in common is that people who suffer from them may struggle with harmful thoughts, actions, or emotions that are not rational or logical. And, these behaviors and feelings usually come from environmental factors or past experiences. If a person wants to heal, he or she needs to be able to identify these triggers, avoid unhealthy situations, and cope appropriately.

Using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) in Addiction Treatment

In early sobriety, it can be difficult to manage difficult emotions and make healthy decisions, especially if a person also struggles with a mental illness. The inability to recognize and cope with this can make it almost impossible to stay sober. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is used in addiction treatment to help patients manage their challenging thoughts and emotions.

During therapy, behavioral therapists encourage recovering individuals to identify their automatic thoughts and replace them with healthier, more logical thoughts. Over time, this can help patients gain self-awareness, improve thought processes, and avoid relapse.[2]

There are four simple points that CBT focuses on in addiction treatment. These are:

  1. Recognize the thoughts, behaviors, and emotions that lead to substance use
  2. Remove the patient from triggering situations and environments, if possible
  3. Cope using CBT and other techniques to avoid substance abuse
  4. Evaluate why negative thoughts occur and how they can be eliminated

When used in drug and alcohol rehab, CBT may be done in a group or individual setting. It can also help improve patient moods and communication skills.

Techniques Used in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Behavioral therapists may use a variety of techniques when using CBT to treat addiction. Some of the techniques used during cognitive behavioral therapy in addiction treatment include:

  • Behavioral experiments to encourage patients to be kinder to themselves
  • Imagery-based exposure to connect emotions and thoughts with past experiences
  • Thought records to make lists of evidence for and against negative thoughts to build awareness of thought patterns
  • Routine, but pleasant, activity schedules that allow for consistency plus downtime and other healthy activities

CBT is thought to be a more engaging and hands-on approach to talk therapy. When combined with a comprehensive treatment approach and medication, CBT can be very effective at treating addiction.

Benefits of CBT in Addiction Treatment

People who struggle with addiction may also struggle with negative or self-destructive thinking. They may even have self-sabotaging tendencies that they are not aware of. And, since the way the brain works impacts overall wellbeing, it is essential to make positive cognitive changes to support long-term recovery.[3]

CBT is a research-based addiction treatment modality that can help improve the lives of people with substance use disorders, eating disorders, and some mental health conditions. There are many benefits of using cognitive behavioral therapy in addiction treatment, including:

  • Encourage patients and therapists to develop a trusting and therapeutic relationship
  • Help therapists make their patients recognize harmful thought patterns
  • Promote alternative thinking and behaviors
  • Explore the patient’s behavioral patterns and self-destructive actions
  • Provide therapy in group and individual sessions
  • Teach practical coping strategies that can be used in day-to-day life
  • Help patients develop healthy coping skills for stressors or relapse triggers
  • Help patients heal from trauma
  • Encourage patients to deal with emotions and problems in a healthier way

Start Addiction Treatment in Delray Beach, FL Today

Staying sober isn’t always an easy or uphill journey. Instead, long-term recovery revolves around the ability of a patient to grasp the skills and coping tools they learned in treatment, participate in support groups, and complete the course of treatment.

At Florida Recovery Group, we employ evidence-based treatment methods, including CBT, into our Delray Beach addiction treatment programs. Our team can help patients identify negative thought patterns, relapse them with healthier ones, and learn how to cope with whatever comes their way.

To learn more about our rehab programs or to find addiction help, pick up the phone and contact one of our dedicated treatment providers today.