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Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in Addiction Recovery

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in Addiction Recovery

The journey from active drug and alcohol addiction to recovery has many challenges. One of the most effective treatment techniques is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Recognized as a powerful tool in the mental health field, cognitive behavioral therapy has helped many individuals overcome addiction.

What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?

A form of psychotherapeutic treatment, CBT is a highly effective evidence-based practice that sheds light on the connection between a person’s thoughts, feelings, and subsequent behaviors. This therapeutic approach centers around identifying and restructuring negative, irrational, unhealthy, and self-defeating thought processes, often known as cognitive distortions. By modifying these harmful thinking patterns, CBT facilitates changes in emotions and actions, resulting in a better quality of life.

Understanding Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

The underlying assumption of cognitive behavioral therapy is that a person’s thoughts shape their perceptions and reactions to the world around them. Therefore, distorted thoughts can lead to adverse emotions and behaviors. Through CBT, individuals learn to challenge these distortions, replacing them with healthier, more rational thoughts. 

For CBT to be successful, the individual must:

  • Recognize their detrimental thought patterns
  • Understand the impact they have on their emotions and behaviors
  • Replace the harmful thought patterns with more constructive ones

CBT emphasizes the importance of giving individuals the ability to control their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors instead of being controlled by external circumstances. The main objective of CBT is to equip individuals with the necessary skills to gain better control over their lives and enhance their well-being.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in Addiction Recovery

When it comes to treating alcohol and drug addiction, two primary components of cognitive behavioral therapy have proven to be most effective: functional analysis and skills training.

Functional Analysis

Functional analysis involves analyzing the root causes and consequences of a person’s behavior. Together with the therapist, the individual works to identify the thoughts, circumstances, and emotions that occurred just before and just after the person used drugs or drank alcohol. Doing this helps the individual understand what could trigger a relapse.

During a functional analysis session, the therapist asks questions to help the person recall the last time they used a substance and gain insight into their thoughts and emotions before engaging in the behavior. 

The therapist may ask questions such as:

  • Did anything happen just before you drank or used drugs?
  • How were you feeling right before using the substance?
  • What were you doing?
  • Did you have any negative consequences?
  • Did anything positive occur? 

Functional analysis can help identify underlying causes for alcohol or drug use and help the person learn healthy coping strategies.

Skills Training

Some people struggling with difficult life situations, such as depression, anxiety, stress, trauma, or other issues, may resort to using drugs or drinking alcohol as a way to cope with their problems. In many cases, substance abuse continues, tolerance occurs, and addiction develops. Once a person is using substances as their main way of coping, they need professional help for their addiction.

The goal of CBT is to get the individual to replace harmful behaviors with newly learned healthy coping skills. The person can use their newly learned skills in situations where they would have taken a drink or used a drug. Skills training also helps people learn how to handle feelings of distress.

Benefits of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in Addiction Recovery

Cognitive behavioral therapy is essentially a short-term, focused approach to therapy, which means individuals can begin to see results within a month or two. The strategies they learn continue to serve them even after they have finished their therapy sessions. 

By empowering individuals to gain control over their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors, CBT fosters a sense of self-efficacy. This newfound confidence can greatly reduce the risk of relapse and encourage long-lasting sobriety. 

One of the most notable strengths of CBT is its adaptability. The therapy can be tailored to suit each individual, factoring in their unique experiences, backgrounds, and current circumstances. This personalized approach to therapy enhances its effectiveness, ensuring that it addresses the specific needs and challenges of the individual.

Do You Need Help?

Although cognitive behavioral therapy is an effective treatment, overcoming a drug or alcohol addiction takes many forms of treatment. CBT needs to be part of a comprehensive clinical treatment program. At Canyon Vista Recovery Center located in Mesa, Arizona, we provide evidence-based addiction treatments including CBT, psychiatric care, and holistic therapies. Our professional team will guide you through your recovery, helping you reach your goal of long-term sobriety. Take the first step. Contact us today.

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