As scientists have increased their knowledge about both the human brain and the nature of substance abuse, a variety of clinical treatments for drug addiction have emerged. One effective tool used to address addiction as part of a comprehensive substance abuse treatment program is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Here is a closer look at this important form of treatment, along with the vital role it plays in the recovery process.
What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?
PsychCentral explains: “Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a short-term, goal-oriented psychotherapy treatment that takes a hands-on, practical approach to problem-solving. Its goal is to change patterns of thinking or behavior that are behind people’s difficulties, and so change the way they feel.”
Developed in the 1960s by psychiatrist Aaron Beck, CBT originated from an understanding of the relationship between thoughts and feelings. Deeply ingrained attitudes and thought processes have a large impact on the way people see and experience the world around them. Patterns of thought dictate, to a large degree, the emotional state in which people live and make decisions.
CBT is part psychotherapy and part behavioral therapy. Its aim is to help patients understand the meaning they attach to things, the thinking patterns that have developed, and how those thinking patterns have affected their emotions, behaviors, and choices. With increased understanding, patients can learn new patterns of thought that will affect their behaviors and feelings for the better.
CBT and Addiction Treatment
As researchers have advanced in knowledge about the physical and emotional aspects of addiction, they have also determined how CBT can be used to facilitate the recovery process in both inpatient and outpatient settings.
Addiction does not exist in a vacuum. The reality is that it is complex and multi-factored with inputs ranging from the biological to the environmental. Accordingly, treatment for addiction is never one-size-fits-all. During CBT sessions, addicts and therapists work together to understand the specific problems that led to addiction, along with identifying strategies for addressing those problems. Thus, the process is inherently individualized.
What, specifically, is addressed in CBT? The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) notes: “A central element of CBT is anticipating likely problems and enhancing patients’ self-control by helping them develop effective coping strategies. Specific techniques include exploring the positive and negative consequences of continued drug use, self-monitoring to recognize cravings early and identify situations that might put one at risk for use, and developing strategies for coping with cravings and avoiding those high-risk situations.”
One of the most exciting things about CBT is that it is the gift that keeps on giving. The skills learned in CBT can help you throughout your addiction recovery journey and can even help you discover things about yourself that will be useful in other areas of your life as well.
If you are struggling with a substance use disorder, CBT may be one part of a well-rounded treatment program to help you achieve and maintain sobriety.
We’re Here to Help
Are you ready to take advantage of the benefits of such a program? Call us to learn about admissions today!