Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a long-used method for helping people with addiction identify self-defeating and negative thoughts that could encourage them to use drugs or alcohol. By recognizing these behaviors and thought patterns, individuals can learn how to stop them from leading to addiction. Cognitive behavior therapy is a component to addiction treatment, though it may not be the only treatment option people need.
What Is Involved in Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy?
CBT was developed initially as a way of helping people with alcohol addiction to avoid relapse. It was then applied to those with cocaine addiction, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. In all cases, CBT is a method of teaching people to recognize when they are thinking about or doing something that could lead to drug or alcohol use.
A simple example may be the thought process a person has when he or she is faced with stress. Perhaps you are at work and have just been yelled at by your boss. You can’t leave the job because your family relies on you, but you can’t handle the stress. In this situation, you may work through a thought process of hating work, feeling frustrated with yourself for making mistakes, and dreading telling family. In people with an addiction risk, these thoughts continue to spiral, leading directly to the use of drugs or alcohol to calm the mind.
With CBT, the goal is to recognize the stress and the thought patterns early on so that you can take action to avoid using. You may be able to say, “Okay, this is bad, but I can’t let this overtake my mind. I need to reach out for help now.”
The goal is to anticipate what your thoughts or behaviors may lead to and then to practice self-control in managing them. This treatment also incorporates the use of effective coping strategies that allow you to move beyond that stress.
What Are the Benefits of Using Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Addiction Treatment?
Most people with substance abuse disorders have negative thoughts. These thoughts serve no purpose for improving your quality of life or even helping you to manage it. They are harmful and can lead to depression and risk-taking. CBT works to eliminate those thoughts or at least give you the tools you need to overcome them.
You’ll learn to identify behavior and thought patterns
One of the key benefits of this therapy is that you learn to recognize when thought patterns are developing. You learn why they are happening, too. This allows you to further explore the beliefs behind them. Why do you think so negatively of yourself or your situation? What is behind your self-destructive behaviors?
You’ll explore alternate ways of thinking
Another benefit of CBT is its ability to help you find other ways to think. That may seem nearly impossible right now, especially with all that you’re facing. Yet, with the help of your therapist, you’ll learn how to actively change your thought patterns to more positive or beneficial ones that can help you to better manage the situation in real-time.
You’ll be able to use it on your own
A key reason why this therapy is so important to addiction treatment is because you learn to use it outside of the therapy session. You’ll be able to embrace this type of learning behavior for many situations for years to come. Studies, including those published in the National Institutes of Health, have found that people taught cognitive-behavioral therapy skills during rehabilitation are able to maintain the use of those skills well outside of treatment. It can feel empowering to know you can change the outcome of your situation.
You’ll be prepared for whatever happens
Life is challenging for everyone, not just those with substance use disorders. With CBT, you are able to plan for ways to manage stressors, triggers, and other challenges that occur to you throughout life. Even if, in those moments, you do not feel the need to use drugs or alcohol, you will still be able to change your thought patterns to help you solve the problem or improve the situation.
How Can You Get Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy?
At DK Solutions Group, we work with patients through customized treatment programs. For some people, cognitive-behavioral therapy is an option. When you come in to learn more about our addiction treatment and counseling, we’ll help you assess whether CBT is right for you.