Cognitive behavioral therapy was first developed in the 1960s, and ever since then, it has been very important for helping people improve their mental health. In recent years, people have discovered that this type of therapy may even be useful for treating addiction. But how does cognitive behavioral therapy for addiction work exactly?
What does it involve, and how can it help a person overcome their drug or alcohol addiction? Is it as effective as other addiction therapy options, or perhaps even more so? Keep reading and learn more about using CBT for addiction.
What You Need To Know About Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Before you learn how cognitive behavior therapy works for people with a substance-use disorder, you should first understand what CBT is and how it works on a basic level. The first thing you should know about this type of therapy is that it has been shown over the years to be very helpful for treating all sorts of mental disorders. It can treat everything from depression and anxiety to eating disorders and even very severe mental disorders such as bipolar disorder.
After undergoing this kind of therapy, most people find that their mental health often improves, as does the quality of their lives. This therapy can also improve a person’s relationship with other people. Some scientific studies have found that CBT is not only effective but significantly more effective than other, more traditional forms of therapy.
But what makes this type of therapy different from any other kind of therapy, you might ask? Does CBT help as much as it claims to? What are the benefits of CBT?
The key is that this therapy focuses on the way a person thinks. Take a person with depression, for example. If a person with depression gets yelled at by his boss at work, the depressed person might think that it is himself to blame.
This would cause a slew of negative and harmful thoughts as a result. He might feel and think that he isn’t good at anything and is doomed to be a failure. But with cognitive behavior therapy, this person can learn to think differently.
If he is yelled at by his boss, he might instead think that his boss is only having a bad day. With this line of thinking, the person in question will no longer suffer from harmful and depressive thoughts. This, of course, is a very simple example, but it is more or less the foundation of how cognitive behavioral therapy works.
The goal is to change a person’s way of thinking. This, of course, is easier said than done, but it isn’t impossible either. Many mental disorders have the problem of creating unhelpful thoughts or mental patterns.
CBT can break those patterns. This makes it easier for the mentally ill person to live a more fulfilling and healthy life. It also makes it easier for the person to have more control over his or her life.
But how does cognitive behavioral therapy work for those that have substance-use disorders?
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Addiction
There are many types of addictions. There are alcohol addictions, cocaine addictions, heroin addictions, and so on, but all of these addictions stem from the same unhealthy pattern of thinking. It is this pattern of thinking that cognitive behavioral thinking aims to destroy and replace with a healthy pattern of thinking.
First, it is important to understand why people develop addictions in the first place. The development of a drug or alcohol addiction is often a downward spiral. A person may start to abuse a drug because they know the drug will make them feel better if they are feeling depressed.
Eventually, the drug in question will become the person’s coping mechanism. It will become harder and harder for the person to stop using the drug since the person has now become dependent on the substance. The person may also have thoughts that they are incapable or not good enough to function normally without the use of the drug.
Or, they may feel that abusing a certain drug is the only way they can possibly feel calm or happy. The first step of using cognitive behavioral therapy for addiction is to understand what is at the root of a person’s addiction. It is the therapist’s job to ask all the right questions.
Also, keep in mind that there are actually several types of cognitive behavioral therapy. There are rational behavior therapy, rational living therapy, dialectic behavior therapy, and others. They are more or less the same, but they do have some minor differences.
What You Need to Know
These minor differences may be helpful for those with different mental problems. Whatever the case, cognitive behavioral therapy, in general, has two main tools: skills training and functional analysis. Functional analysis is very important as it discovers the root of a person’s addictive behavior.
Once you discover the root, it is easier to stop the addiction at its source. During functional analysis, the therapist at hand will also ask the patient some important questions regarding his or her thoughts or feelings. This allows the patient to reflect on his feelings and thoughts before, during, and after abusing an addictive substance.
This may not sound very substantial, but allowing the patient to reflect in this way will allow the patient to better understand his addiction. For example, a person might experience extreme depressive episodes and drink alcohol to alleviate this feeling. By understanding this, the patient can start to consider other methods for treating depressive episodes other than using addictive substances.
This is especially important for those who have difficulty coping with certain problems in their lives. Many people have poor coping skills that often lead them to unhealthy behaviors, including addiction. Cognitive behavioral therapy can not only help identify these coping problems but also offer healthy and alternative coping solutions.
Skills Training and the Benefits of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Besides functional analysis, the other important side of cognitive behavioral therapy includes skills training. This involves teaching a patient healthy coping skills. It also involves the unlearning of unhealthy coping skills, namely the use of addictive substances.
This can be difficult at first. This is because those who use addictive substances are likely already accustomed to using drugs or alcohol. To stop will be a difficult task, and it will often result in unpleasant withdrawal symptoms.
The goal is to allow a person to cope with life problems and mental health episodes. For example, instead of drinking as a result of a life problem, it would be better to reflect upon the problem itself and think of it in a more positive light. For example, instead of being distraught over losing your job, you could turn it into something more positive such as it being an opportunity to take your career in a new direction.
The patient will also learn new ways to cope with his mental health problems. For example, if a person often experiences anxiety, he can learn to meditate instead of abusing an addictive substance. One of the biggest benefits of cognitive behavioral therapy is that it allows the patient to identify his own problems.
Identifying The Problem
The first step to treatment is understanding that you have a problem. After that, you can find ways to cope. As a person uses new and adaptive skills, he can start to use those skills in his everyday life.
After some time, the person will no longer need an addictive substance to function. Instead, the person should be able to use his new skills to think in a more positive way. Keep in mind that these changes don’t happen overnight.
It often takes weeks, months, or even years of therapy to see a difference. The patient also has to be willing to try new adaptive skills and thought patterns. As long as the therapy goes well, the patient should be able to kick his addiction.
60% of people who went through CBT for addiction remained sober even after a year. This makes CBT significantly more effective compared to other therapeutic methods.
All About Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Addiction
Cognitive behavioral therapy for addiction is arguably one of the most effective types of therapy for substance-use disorders.
It is unique because it aims to change a person’s pattern of thinking. Instead of focusing on negative thoughts, CBT allows a person to have more positive and healthy thoughts.
This is very important for those who have poor coping mechanisms and abuse addictive substances as a result. To learn more about this kind of therapy, don’t hesitate to contact us here.