Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a technique used by clinical professionals and addiction specialists to help patients understand the core issues and behaviors driving their addictive behavior.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in Addiction Treatment
Drug and alcohol addiction are treatable medical conditions. Addiction changes the brain and creates patterns of thought, behavior, and emotion that impair day-to-day functioning and lead to long-term problems.
Negative patterns of thought can fuel the disordered use of alcohol and drugs. Cognitive behavioral therapy helps people in recovery by teaching them how their automatic, learned thoughts and patterns of thought influence feelings, which, in turn, influence behavior. Understanding these connections is an important step in learning effective tools that lead to behavioral change.
Behavioral change is the key to achieving the primary goal of people in recovery: lifelong, sustainable sobriety.
Once an individual in recovery understands the connection between thought, feeling, and behavior, the second step is recognizing how and when thoughts associated with addiction arise. The techniques utilized in CBT teach people exactly that: how to recognize and cope with these life-interrupting patterns of thought.
Next, CBT helps people in recovery connect those thoughts with the behaviors that ultimately cause them harm. They learn how to identify those behaviors and habits, then replace the counterproductive habits of addiction with the positive habits of recovery. This process improves their overall well-being and increases their chances of sustained sobriety.
CBT and Co-Occurring Disorders
Cognitive behavioral therapy can help people in recovery manage challenging emotions and thoughts that are often symptoms of depression, anxiety, and trauma. This, in turn, allows them to understand how those co-occurring disorders contribute to their addiction. With guidance from a trained therapist, the person learns healthy and productive ways to cope.
A therapist helps them recognize unhealthy environments, people, attitudes, and situations. They also help the person anticipate future circumstances that might cause relapse.
In collaboration with a skilled therapist, a person in recovery can bring the cycle of negative thoughts and damaging behaviors under control. Additionally, where addiction strips a person of hope, CBT, and an experienced CBT therapist, can help them rediscover their optimism. The process of CBT helps them feel more positive about who they are and what they need.
Benefits of CBT
Every person has a unique set of circumstances that leads to addiction. Reducing triggers and life-interrupting behaviors requires an individualized treatment plan to help them change course. Cognitive behavioral therapy offers many benefits for identifying and treating issues that prompted their misuse of alcohol and drugs.
CBT takes work, but it gives the person a chance to build a solid foundation for deep healing. In addition to those mentioned above, the benefits of CBT include:
- Resolving problems in interpersonal relationships
- Strengthening communication skills
- Healing from a traumatic experience
- Coping with loss, grief, and life stressors
These benefits help people in treatment create a life free from alcohol and drugs because improvement in these areas has a positive impact on all phases of life. Recovery is about building a whole new set of personal coping skills and leaving the learned behaviors of addiction behind. CBT offers techniques that countless therapists and patients have applied successfully over decades. CBT skills create a solid foundation for independence and growth.