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Cognitive behavioral therapy is an invaluable part of an effective treatment program. It is designed to establish positive, practical thought patterns, which allow one to conscientiously manage emotions and reactions instead of turning to drugs and alcohol. This therapy is present in other therapies as the skills gained are practiced in many diverse settings such as individual counseling sessions, group therapy, family counseling, and relapse prevention classes. The participating individual gains behavioral skills learned in short-term and long-term treatment that will be retained for a lifetime to come.
Every individual deserves a chance to live their best life, including people struggling with an addiction to alcohol and drugs. At Recovery in Motion, we understand that an addiction may create serious problems with destructive behavior and other concerns, but this is not part of who the person is; it’s part of the addiction. We frequently utilize Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) to reverse destructive thought patterns and replace them with efficacious perceptions of self and forward-looking aspirations.
When a healthy brain is in the grips of addiction, the normal thought processes of the individual are altered. Addicted individuals often exhibit irrational thoughts or thoughts saturated in a negative emotional reaction. This behavioral therapy breaks down walls and teaches the participant to experience life from a new perspective. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) describes CBT in relation to addiction treatment saying, “psychotherapy, also known as ‘talk therapy,’ is when a person speaks with a trained therapist in a safe and confidential environment to explore and understand feelings and behaviors and gain coping skills.”
The interaction between an addicted one’s thoughts and behaviors is influenced by the brain’s dependency on drugs or alcohol. Depression, anger and loneliness are common feelings caused by addiction, which cast a shadow over all aspects of one’s life. This method of therapy impacts the interaction, giving the participant the ability to gain awareness and increase his or her control of the addiction.
“Cognitive-behavioral strategies are based on the theory that in the development of maladaptive behavioral patterns like substance abuse, learning processes play a critical role,” says the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Addicted individuals learn about underlying contributions to their behavior, giving them the knowledge they need to reshape their thoughts, reactions, and emotional responses. This wisdom comes in especially handy when one is struggling with cravings or triggers.
An addiction to drugs and alcohol has a powerful effect on the mind that often goes unnoticed by an individual, until substance abuse treatment. In rehab, cognitive behavioral therapy brings attention to destructive thoughts, which aids the participant in understanding that addiction played a major role in their frequent presence in the mind. Some of these thoughts can include:
“I’m insignificant so it doesn’t matter if I do drugs or drink too much alcohol.”
“I’ve been addicted for a long time; it’s too late for me to turn my life around.”
“I’ve tried getting sober before, I can’t do it.”
During these behavioral therapy sessions, therapists guide the participant’s healing by teaching him or her how to identify these intrusive thoughts, remove them and replace them with positive thought patterns that will facilitate overall healing. Some of these important, positive beliefs include:
“I deserve to lead a happy and healthy life without drugs and alcohol.”
“It is within my capacity to change my life.”
“Relapse is often a part of recovery. It doesn’t make me a weak or hopeless person.”
“My life is important and I can make a difference.”
To reinforce advantageous thought patterns in cognitive behavioral therapy, therapists use powerful exercises in sessions that may be spoken or written. The exercises teach the participant that triggers and cravings do not cause a relapse, however; one’s responses to these hindrances do. The participant also learns to anticipate the consequences of drug and alcohol abuse, explore sober hobbies and make sober friends, and find healthy, effective ways to minimize stress, cravings, and triggers.
In addition, participants learn and practice important communication skills, including respectful ways to advocate for what they need in recovery. Clear communication is a skill that is called upon often in daily life. Solidly declining the offer of drugs or alcohol at a party is just as important as being able to express emotions or ask for help in recovery.
While transitioning to constructive thoughts is important, it doesn’t happen overnight; it takes practice and patience. As one begins to realize that he or she is in control, confidence in one’s self is increased and continues to grow, expanding the belief that the addiction can be overcome.
Cognitive behavioral therapy is a compelling piece of addiction treatment, but it’s not sufficient alone to achieve long-term addiction recovery. The National Institute on Drug Abuse has established principles of effective treatment based on scientific research done in the mid-1970s. One of these 13 principles states that addiction is a complex but treatable disease that affects brain function and behavior. Cognitive behavioral therapy treats the behavioral effects of the addiction head-on (no pun intended) while treating many other aspects simultaneously, resulting in one’s best possible chance for a life free of drugs and alcohol.
At Recovery in Motion, we take those 13 principles to heart. In addition to CBT, we offer a variety of therapies for treatment. Individual therapy, group therapy, trauma therapy, anger management, art therapy, music therapy, yoga therapy, family participation, 12-step programs and life skills training are some of the methods our therapists consider when developing specially tailored programs for our patients.
Combining multiple therapeutic strategies gives our patients a well-rounded approach to healing drug and alcohol addiction as well as other psychological concerns that could be contributing to the addiction. Our goal is to help our patients find their sense of self and to set goals to establish the life they’ve always wanted.
Life without drugs and alcohol may seem impossible to an addicted individual. That’s the affect addiction has on the mind. Life without drugs and alcohol is not only possible; it’s within your reach! If you’re ready to break down an addiction that’s holding you back, give us a call today. We can help.