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How is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Used in Addiction Treatment?

Individuals in search of rehabilitation for drugs or alcohol can easily feel inundated by the sheer number of rehab methods and therapy variations available. Often, it will be a combination of methods like anger management, dual diagnosis treatment, group therapy and one-on-one counseling that will create lasting results, but there’s no question that cognitive behavioral therapy is also integral toward long-term success. It’s time to learn more about how and why cognitive behavioral therapy is used in addiction treatment around the world.

Defining Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Before you can find out why cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, is useful for addiction treatment, you need to understand what this kind of treatment method actually entails. Essentially, CBT is a goal-oriented approach of individual therapy that seeks to change the pattern or behavior that causes problems for patients.

This is easily applicable in the context of addiction, which makes CBT a popular treatment method. Patients who find themselves using drugs or alcohol excessively may have physical dependencies to these substances, but there are also other factors that might be causing them to return to their use time and again. By changing a patient’s cognitive processes, or the way they think, it’s possible to influence their behavior in the future.

CBT Reveals Underlying Issues Causing Substance Abuse

One of the ways that CBT is so effective in addiction treatment has to do with the focus on revealing the underlying issues that create a need for drug or alcohol abuse. At the beginning of rehabilitation, patients might be focused on the physical side of treatment. The withdrawal symptoms and physical needs, however, are only part of the equation.

Through CBT, patients may gain insight into what appeals to them most about drug or alcohol addiction. Some of the common responses and underlying issues inclu

  • Euphoria or happiness not achievable in everyday life
  • Distraction from depression or anxiety
  • Escaping from the perceived harshness of reality
  • Coping with family or personal relationships
  • Dealing with early or recent trauma

Creating Replacement Techniques to Prevent Future Relapse

A large part of cognitive behavioral therapy is skills training, which involves learning how to replace existing habits with healthier ones. Often, using drugs or alcohol is a coping mechanism, and it may have been adopted by the patient because nothing else worked. Through CBT, it’s possible to begin creating replacement habits, which can be instrumental when patients are out of therapy and relearning how to function independently.

A person who comes home from work and usually heads straight to a bar, for instance, might take up going to the gym each evening instead. Doing this repeatedly creates a new habit that helps deal with stress, and it can prevent a future relapse from occurring.

Identify Personal Triggers

One of the reasons that CBT is a smart addition to other treatment methods like family experiential therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy or trauma-informed therapy is that it helps patients identify their personal triggers. Often, even those patients who understand and admit their addictions may not be able to see the triggers that they react to.

Just a few examples of personal triggers that can lead to drug or alcohol abuse include:

  • Bad news
  • Feelings of sadness
  • Loneliness
  • Boredom
  • Traffic
  • Financial issues or debt

Evidence-based cognitive behavioral therapy also has the benefit of being short term, often lasting just weeks, and it’s a flexible, effective means of psychoeducational therapy. At Recovery in Motion in Tucson, Arizona, CBT is used as part of a comprehensive 90-day program that even comes with a guarantee. There are rooms available now, so call 866-849-0901 to take back control of your life today.