If you are researching addiction recovery, you may have heard about cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Originally developed decades ago as a treatment for depression, this unique therapy is now being applied as a means to help recovering addicts. Here is what you need to know about CBT, its effectiveness in the treatment of addiction, and what you can expect in a typical CBT session.
What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?
CBT is a form of psychotherapy that places particular emphasis on thinking about the emotions behind different behaviors and life difficulties. CBT asks the participant to focus on his or her thoughts, beliefs, and attitudes and understand how those relate to certain emotions and behaviors.
Most human beings tend to have an internal dialogue running through their heads, which often is not positive in the case of a drug addict. CBT recognizes that there is a definite link between these thoughts and your feelings, which can then influence actions. If your inner dialogue can be altered, then so can the subsequent chain of events, yielding a more positive outcome.
The Effectiveness of CBT in Addiction Treatment
Since CBT has been successful in treating such things as major depression, PTSD, ADHD, panic disorders, anxiety, and eating disorders, its use in helping those in addiction recovery has been growing for more than 30 years. The Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs published an analysis of 53 different CBT studies, concluding that CBT treatment is effective for the treatment of a wide variety of addiction disorders.
Both the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the National Association of Cognitive Behavioral Therapists (NACBT) recommend CBT as an addiction recovery treatment. When patients undergo CBT, they learn to recognize situations in which they are most likely to use drugs again and formulate appropriate coping mechanisms for a wide range of problems and emotions.
What to Expect From a CBT Session
CBT treatment is short-term compared to some other forms of treatment. The patient’s number of sessions will vary but could last up to 16 weeks. Most CBT sessions are around 60 minutes in length, depending on your counselor’s recommendation.
When a patient attends a CBT session, there is often an agenda with a particular structure. For example, your counselor may wish to focus on certain techniques or skills to unlearn destructive habits and come up with healthier alternatives.
Patients also spend time both identifying and analyzing thoughts, feelings, and circumstances that lead to drug use or drinking. This functional analysis during CBT might identify areas where there are still barriers or issues with coping. If these are not identified and addressed, the recovering addict may face a higher risk of relapse.
CBT is also often combined with other treatment modalities, which might be individual in nature. For example, CBT may be used at the same time as fitness training, holistic therapies, nutritional therapy, as well as pharmacotherapy. CBT can begin at any time during addiction recovery, from detox through aftercare and beyond. If you need help in overcoming addiction, contact us to learn about admissions and ask about our CBT programs.
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