Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
What is CBT?
CBT or cognitive behavioral therapy is a type of psychotherapy that helps you to explore your beliefs and thoughts. In general, cognitive behavioral therapy focuses on the way you process situations and helps to restructure your perspective and lessen maladaptive behaviors.
The CBT model believes that your thought patterns influence your emotions and behaviors. For this reason, negative thoughts cause negative feelings and unhealthy behaviors like substance abuse.
During therapy sessions, your CBT therapist helps you to identify unhealthy thought patterns while teaching you CBT techniques to assist in healing your mind and encourage real change.
Royal Life Centers integrates cognitive behavior therapy into your treatment plan to help you recover from substance abuse. While you progress through treatment, you can learn to catch, challenge, and change negative thought patterns in CBT.
How Can CBT Help You?
One of the countless ways CBT can help is to encourage and guide you in expressing your feelings. For instance, you may be angry but given a chance to talk about it and given the right questions to answer, you may discover that the anger is really a mask for pain and hurt.
When you feel like you want a drink or a drug, and you talk about it, you may learn that it’s not really a chemical you want, it’s approval, recognition, or love. This is why CBT is so beneficial to people in recovery from substance use disorders.
Learn How Emotions Can Lead to Substance Abuse in CBT
Many people in cognitive behavioral therapy work through the underlying causes of their addiction. For this reason, CBT therapists in addiction treatment are trained in trauma-sensitive therapy techniques that provide a safe and empathetic space for you to uncover past trauma and painful memories.
As you unpack the emotional baggage from your past, you may realize your drinking or drug use was an escape mechanism to hide from pain. Similarly, you may drink to drown out feelings of unhappiness, loneliness and feelings of inadequacy.
Unfortunately, you might have started drinking to numb your pain and lost control over your substance misuse. Due to the nature of the disease of addiction, drinking often becomes a habit. As a result, you may automatically pour yourself a drink every time you feel negative emotions. In fact, you will likely realize that your cravings are just a habitual, knee-jerk reaction.
Understanding Your Emotions Can Help You Recover
At this point, people in active addiction often forget that drinking never solves the problem. Nor does it remove the pain. At the very most, drinking or doing drugs only postpones the pain. More often than not, substance abuse actually makes the pain worse.
When people enter treatment, many have not yet accepted that substance abuse can only put painful feelings into brief oblivion. After the drug wears off, the pain will always come back. To make matters worse, substance abuse adds additional shame and pain to your already unhealthy mindset. For this reason, it is important to learn the impact of your emotions, thoughts, and behaviors on your mental state. In therapy, you can gain a new understanding of your substance abuse—why you began misusing substances, and how to stop using drugs.
CBT can also help you to build up a recovery toolkit founded on healthy coping skills to assist in fighting craving and stay sober.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
At Royal Life Centers, our addiction therapists are trained in various therapy practices, including CBT, to ensure optimal counseling and treatment. Since cognitive behavioral therapy focuses on studying your thought patterns, you will begin to understand how your train of thought affects your day-to-day routine. Afterward, you and your therapist will start identifying which of your beliefs are maladaptive and practicing strategies to challenge them.
As a result, this type of behavioral therapy is especially helpful for those who struggle with co-occurring mental health disorders. CBT helps in the treatment of several different disorders, including:
- Anxiety disorders
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PSTD)
- Bipolar disorders
- Personality disorders
- Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Eating disorders
- Alcohol use disorder
- Drug use disorders
- Behavioral addictions (Gambling, shopping, sex, and internet gaming disorders)
The root of CBT is understanding the way you think about certain things and why. As a problem-solving form of psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy helps you to identify and address dysfunctional thinking. Knowing that dysfunctional thoughts are incredibly common during substance use and mental health disorders, we believe CBT is highly effective for many different people.
An Example of CBT for Relapse Prevention
In CBT therapy, when you think about taking a drink, or a drug, someone can help you “talk the drink through.”
That means remembering and describing the true consequences of substance abuse. For example, your CBT therapist will ask you to discuss what you think will happen if you take a drink or drug.
When thinking about alcohol and drugs, many people struggling in early sobriety will romanticize that idea of drinking or doing drugs. While some people may be consumed with how comfortable they would be, they rarely think past the initial feeling. CBT sessions help you remember the transition into a foggy-headed state, followed by cravings for more of the drug or drink and intoxication.
With your CBT therapist as your guide, you will continue the thought exercise, into the next day where you are hung over or crashing. At your own pace, you are reminded of the guilt, shame, and misery because your problems are still there when you sober up. Without any relief from the pain you were running from, the thoughts that made you take the drink or drug in the first place hit you stronger than ever before.
CBT Techniques for Addiction Recovery
When you can go through this entire exercise honestly, and recognize that your pattern is consistent—one drink or one joint is never enough—then you are beginning to dismantle your denial of the chemical’s tyranny over you. Then it’s only a short step away from the rock-bottom admission that you don’t drink to ease the pain, or to be sociable, or to relax from the day’s stresses: you drink to get drunk or you take drugs to get high.
Then you can ask yourself what good does that do? This exercise can also bolster your effort to learn another essential truth: the bad part was always far worse than the good part was good.
Many chemically dependent people cling to the pleasant memories associated with drinking or taking drugs, and easily forget the negative side. “Talking the drink through” is a way of reminding yourself that the sociability of drinking—the taste of fine wine, the connection between beer and basketball, or cocaine and a sophisticated nightlife—were brief, fleeting, and overwhelmed in importance by the misery and grief that went with them.
Recover in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Recovery requires you to be comfortable with being a work in progress. Eventually, you will discover how easy it is to have a good time without chemicals. For the moment, it’s necessary only to remind yourself that the “good time” was really a bad time.
When denial really starts to unravel, you begin to find it impossible to say, “I can quit anytime” to a group of other people who are living proof that they couldn’t just quit either. And then it also becomes considerably harder to keep believing that you can stop anytime by yourself.
When the distorted thought system begins to fall apart, many great things begin to happen in recovery and are helped along by the CBT treatment process. When you really accept that you are like all other chemical dependents in your helplessness against the condition of dependence, you will stop dwelling on the real or imagined hurts or deprivations or failures that you used to blame for your behavior.
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