Cognitive Behavior Therapy for Addiction

Recognize, Avoid, and Cope

Cognitive Behavior Therapy
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Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) is commonly used to treat depression, anxiety disorders, phobias, and other mental disorders. Yet, it has also been shown to be valuable in treating alcoholism and drug addiction. This is especially true when it's part of an overall program of recovery.

Cognitive-behavioral coping skills treatment is a short-term, focused therapeutic approach to helping drug-dependent people become abstinent.

It does so by using the same learning processes you used to develop alcohol and drug dependence in the first place.

What Is Cognitive Behavior Therapy?

Cognitive behavior therapy is based on the idea that feelings and behaviors are caused by a person's thoughts, not on outside stimuli like people, situations, and events. While you may not be able to change your circumstances, you can change how you think about them. According to cognitive behavior therapists, this helps you change how you feel and behave.

In the treatment for alcohol and drug dependence, the goal of CBT is to:

  • Teach the person to recognize situations in which they are most likely to drink or use drugs.
  • Avoid these circumstances if possible.
  • Cope with other problems and behaviors which may lead to their substance abuse.

What Are Other Approaches to CBT?

According to the National Association of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapists, there are several approaches to CBT.

This includes Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy, Rational Behavior Therapy, Rational Living Therapy, Cognitive Therapy, and Dialectic Behavior Therapy.

What Are the Components of CBT?

In its use to treat alcohol and drug dependent individuals, CBT has two main components: functional analysis and skills training.

Functional Analysis: Working together, the therapist and individual try to identify the thoughts, feelings, and circumstances that led to and followed drinking or using. This helps determine the risks that are likely to lead to a relapse.

Functional analysis can also give insight into why they drink or use drugs in the first place. This helps identify situations in which the person has coping difficulties.

Skills Training: If someone is at the point where they need professional treatment for their addiction, chances are they are using alcohol or drugs as their main means of coping with problems. The goal of CBT is to get the person to learn or relearn better coping skills.

The therapist tries to help the individual unlearn old habits and learn to develop healthier skills and habits. The main goal is to educate them about ways to change how they think about their substance abuse. Then they can learn new ways to cope with the situations and circumstances that led to their drinking or drugging episodes in the past.

How Long Does CBT Take?

Because cognitive behavior therapy is a structured, goal-oriented educational process focused on immediate problems, the process is usually short-term. Although other forms of therapy and psychoanalysis can take years, CBT is usually completed in 12 to 16 sessions with the therapist.

How Effective Is Cognitive Behavior Therapy?

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, more than 24 randomized controlled trials have been conducted among users of tobacco, alcohol, cocaine, marijuana, opiates, and other types of substances. This makes cognitive-behavioral treatments one of the most frequently evaluated psychosocial approaches to treating substance use disorders.

In these studies, CBT has been shown most effective when compared with having no other treatment at all. When compared with other treatment approaches, studies have had mixed results. Some show CBT to be more effective while others show it to be of equal, but not greater, effectiveness than other treatments.

As with other treatments for alcoholism and drug abuse, including pharmaceutical treatments, cognitive behavior therapy works best when combined with other recovery efforts. This includes participation in support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous.

In short, behavior cognitive therapy works well for some, but not for everyone. This is the case with all alcoholism and drug treatment approaches because every person deals with and recovers from addiction in a different way.

Sources:

National Association of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapists. What Is Cognitive Behavior Therapy?

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