Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a psychotherapy treatment approach that is able to aid in the treatment of substance abuse disorders. CBT is typically used to treat phobias, anxiety disorders, depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, as well as drug and alcohol addiction. CBT is almost always a part of an effective comprehensive treatment program for recovery from substance abuse disorder. CBT aids individuals in learning better methods to deal with self-defeating and negative thoughts or behaviors that often contribute to substance abuse. CBT is a short-term treatment method that is focused on the goals of maintaining abstinence and achieving recovery. This is accomplished through changing the thought and learning processes that initially led to the substance abuse and allows individuals to eliminate maladaptive behaviors through unlearning them.
CBT: Is it the Right Choice for Me?
CBT is based on the concept that behaviors and emotions are the result of an individual’s thoughts and not external stimuli such as events, situations, or other people. It allows individuals to learn that they may not be able to alter their current circumstances but they can change the way they think about them. This then allows the individual to engage in proactive behaviors and reduces their engagement in maladaptive behaviors. The overall goal of CBT when treating substance use disorders is to increase motivation to change, learn and engage in effective coping skills, and change negative habits.
In the treatment of substance use disorder, CBT allows individuals to:
- Identify situations that they are most likely to drink or use substances.
- Increase level of self-control.
- Create coping skills that allow them to be in difficult situations that may trigger cravings to use.
- Avoid triggering situations or circumstances.
- Increase the ability to cope with other issues and behaviors that may result in substance use.
There are several different methods and approaches to CBT including:
- Cognitive Therapy
- Dialectic Behavior Therapy
- Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy
- Rational Behavior Therapy
- Rational Living Therapy
Individuals with substance use disorder or alcohol use disorder typically have difficulty with negative thoughts or feelings that make the recovery process much harder. CBT alleviates these negative thoughts and feelings through identifying their patterns and replacing them with adaptive behaviors and thoughts. This then causes an improvement in mood, motivation, support skills, and outlook that increase the chances of a long-term recovery from substances. CBT is beneficial and applicable to many different types of issues that individuals with substance abuse disorders including:
- Identification of self-destructive actions and thoughts
- Learning adaptive methods of thinking
- Learning new ways to monitor negative thoughts and behavior patterns
- Engaging in skills that have been learned in treatment in other settings and settings
- Learning new ways to deal with problems and stressful situations
Research has shown that skills learned and implemented in CBT are long lasting and can also be applied to other issues in an individual’s life. About 60% of individuals who have undergone CBT therapy for substance abuse are able to maintain their sobriety for a year or more. Typically, CBT is completed in approximately 10 to 16 sessions with a mental health professional. CBT is a goal-oriented learning process that is structured and treats immediate problems, which means it is a short-term treatment.
Some forms of CBT can last longer and the process is not time limited and can continue until the individual’s status has improved. CBT Can involve several interventions including skills building, motivational enhancement, and operant learning strategies. These interventions can then be used in combination with other treatment methods as well depending on the individual needs of the patient.
There is a multitude of evidence and support for CBT, as it has been researched and evaluated extensively in many different populations. There have been approximately 50 randomized controlled trials on drug and alcohol abuse that examined the outcomes of CBT treatment. If you would like more information regarding treatment options like CBT to treat substance or alcohol abuse please contact us at 844-639-8371. We look forward to speaking with you and answering any questions or concerns you may have.