Explore the Therapeutic Approach: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Treatment Guru

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of mental health treatment founded in the 1960s, and it has shown great success in treating substance misuse disorders. In addition to substance misuse, CBT has been used to address co-occurring disorders like anxiety, bipolar disorder, OCD, eating disorders, and PTSD. If you or a loved one suffers from a substance misuse disorder, CBT might be helpful.

How Does CBT Work?

In short, the goal of CBT is to get at the root cause of why someone with a substance misuse problem feels the urge to keep misusing the substance. There are obvious biological factors behind any addiction, but there are psychological factors as well.

People with addictions often keep using based on impulse or habit, sometimes triggered by an emotionally charged memory or an environmental factor. But those reactions aren’t necessarily rational, and CBT can help dissociate the trigger from the reaction.

Cognitive behavioral therapists help those recovering from addiction to recognize their “automatic” thoughts — the thoughts that come up without prompting, set off by bad memories, past trauma, self-doubt, fear, and other negative inputs.

Often, the reaction of someone with a substance misuse problem is to self-medicate, using substances to drown out painful thoughts and feelings. With CBT, people recovering from addiction can learn to create new associations, replacing drug and alcohol use with more positive behaviors.

What Are the Benefits of CBT?

Destructive, negative thoughts are a common issue for individuals with substance misuse disorders, so changing these thought patterns is essential. For that reason, CBT is an effective treatment for substance misuse, eating disorders, and other mental health issues. CBT is focused on the present, sets clear goals, and focuses on specific problems, which helps patients to stay on track with their treatments.

Pharmaceutical treatments for substance misuse can be extremely helpful in treating the biological symptoms of addiction and withdrawal, but they fall short of exploring the underlying causes of continued substance misuse. CBT explores behavior and beliefs to identify and resolve patterns of self-destructive behavior.

CBT allows patients and therapists to work together in a therapeutic relationship, helping to identify harmful thoughts and seek out alternate ways of thinking, which allows patients to reshape the way they interact with their environments in the long term. CBT sessions are also usually augmented with homework outside of sessions to keep patients in the right frame of mind even when they encounter their old triggers.

Best of all, CBT skills are useful, practical strategies that can be incorporated into everyday life. One of the most difficult aspects of recovery for many who struggle with substance misuse disorders is seeing the same environmental cues over and over — locations where they used to obtain or use drugs, people who used the same substances, and so on. CBT can help remove the negative associations from those environmental factors, making it easier to recover without changing every aspect of your life.

If you or a loved one struggles with an addiction, and you think CBT might be able to help, contact TreatmentGuru today. We can help you find a treatment facility or program that’s right for you.

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