Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is widely used and recommended as part of addiction treatment. Essentially, CBT helps people recovering from alcohol or drug addiction and mental illness to identify the link between their feelings, thoughts, and actions. This understanding and awareness will pave the way for their recovery.
The CBT treatment method builds on the fact that when an individual going through different stages of addicted treatment, they feel and act in a particular way. Once they are able to interpret how those feelings and actions lead to substance use or make them crave the substance they want to get away from — they are better equipped to deal with their addiction and eventually overcome.
How Does CBT Work?
Trained cognitive-behavioral therapists support the recovering addict to spot their negative thoughts that keep recurring automatically. Essentially, an automatic thought is based on internalized feelings of self-doubt and fear and builds on impulses that often come from misconceptions. Addictions could have roots in these recurring negative thoughts because very often people try to suppress these painful feelings and thoughts by drinking or abusing drugs.
When a recovering addict is guided to revisit these painful memories frequently, interestingly the pain caused by them is reduced. They will then learn to substitute them with more positive and uplifting thought patterns rather than resorting to drugs or alcohol.
Studies also show that automatic or recurring negative thoughts also often lead to mental health issues such as depression and anxiety disorders. In fact, these often co-occur with addiction. In other words, automatic thoughts, if allowed to continue unchecked, can make someone more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol as well.
How Does Cognitive Behavior Therapy help patients deal with drug addiction and alcoholism?
The CBT mainly helps patients by:
- Providing tools and strategies to improve their moods
- Helping them to eliminate false beliefs and insecurities that might have caused the substance abuse
- Through teaching effective communication skills and positive expressions
What are triggers and how to manage them?
Addiction triggers can lead to relapse. Understanding the common external and emotional substance abuse triggers and how to recognize them is part of CBT.
Triggers are situations that re-ignite the cravings for the drug or alcohol they are trying to avoid. This makes it harder for many addicted people from getting sober. Cognitive-behavioral therapy helps them address the triggers.
There are three ways that recovering addicts learn to control when they encounter the triggers. These are:
Recognize: The first step is to recognize the circumstances that made them resort to excessive drinking or abusing drugs.
Avoid: The next step is to remove themselves from the situation that acts as triggers to the extent possible.
Cope: The final step is the use of cognitive therapy techniques to control the thoughts and emotions that pull them towards substance abuse.