Cognitive behavioral therapy is a psychotherapy that can help treat substance abuse disorders. CBT has been proven to be effective in treating alcoholism, drug addiction, anxiety disorders and phobias. This is particularly true when CBT is part of a comprehensive recovery program.
CBT therapist helps individuals identify negative, self-defeating actions and thoughts that may contribute to substance abuse. This is a focused, short-term therapeutic approach that helps drug-dependent individuals become abstinent.
CBT helps people undo maladaptive behavior by using the same learning process that caused them to become dependent on alcohol and drugs in the first instance.
What is CBT?
Cognitive behavioral therapy is founded on the belief that thoughts are what cause feelings and behavior, not external stimuli such as people, events, or situations. We may not be in a position to change the circumstances we are in, but we can alter how we perceive them. Therapist for CBT say that this can help us to change our feelings and behaviors.
CBT is a useful tool in the treatment of alcoholism and drug addiction.
- Self-control is a good thing.
- Recognize situations where they are likely to drink alcohol or use drugs
- If possible, avoid triggering circumstances
- When faced with situations where cravings are triggered, develop coping strategies to help them cope.
- Other problems and behaviors which may lead to substance misuse
The primary goals of CBT for the treatment of substance abuse are to improve motivation and to learn new coping techniques, to change old habits and to learn how to better manage painful emotions.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Types
CBT can be approached in several ways. There are several approaches to CBT.
- Cognitive Therapy
- Dialectic Behavior Therapy
- Mental behavior therapy
- REBT (rational emotive behavioral therapy)
- Rational Living Therapy
What is the Process?
CBT is used to treat alcoholism and drug addiction. It has two main components, functional analysis and skill training.
In CBT, functional analysis involves examining the causes and effects of a particular behavior. Together, the therapist will work with the individual to identify the thoughts and feelings that led up to or followed the drinking or use. This can help determine the risk factors that may lead to a relapse.
A therapist may ask questions to gain an understanding of how the person felt or thought before they acted. The therapist might ask a client to remember the last time that they used an substance, and then ask them:
- What did you do before using the substance?
- What are you feeling today?
- What happened just before?
- Has the behavior resulted in any positive outcomes?
- What negative consequences did your actions have?
A functional analysis can give an insight into the reasons why people drink or use drugs. The person may look at the circumstances, emotions and thoughts that led to their drug or drink use. This can help identify situations where the person is having difficulty coping.
People can better manage difficult emotions or thoughts by better understanding what causes substance abuse.
CBT Skills Training
People who are dealing with stressful situations, anxiety, depression or trauma may turn to alcohol or drugs to cope. Chances are, if someone needs professional treatment for addiction, they use alcohol or drugs to cope with their problems.
CBT aims to teach the person new coping skills and to help them unlearn old, maladaptive behavior. They can start to use these skills in situations where they would normally be tempted to drink or take drugs. Skills training works by:
- Individuals can learn new skills and develop better habits by helping them to unlearn their old habits.
- People need to be educated about how they can change their thinking about substance abuse.
- Learn new ways to deal with situations that may have led to drinking or drugging in the past
A second aspect of skill training is to help people better tolerate distress. So, they can learn to manage their anxiety and depression without resorting to substances.
It is important to replace old habits which contribute to substance abuse with new and lasting actions that will improve a person’s ability to function. This also helps in long-term recovery.
Benefits of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Alcoholism
Those with a substance use disorder or alcoholism may struggle to overcome negative thoughts or feelings that can make recovery difficult. CBT can improve an individual’s outlook by identifying and replacing negative thought patterns with adaptive ones.
CBT is beneficial to people with addictions in the following ways:
- Learn to recognize self-destructive thoughts, feelings and behaviors
- Monitoring such thoughts patterns
- Adaptive thinking and new ways of learning
- You can apply the skills you have learned to new situations.
- Explore new ways to deal with stress and difficulty
According to research, CBT skills are not only enduring but can be used in other aspects of a person’s life. About 60% of those who receive cognitive behavioral therapy to treat a substance abuse problem can maintain their recovery over a period of one year.
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