Does CBT Help Substance Abuse Recovery?

by | Jun 18, 2021 | Addiction | 0 comments

Cognitive behavioral therapy was first developed and pioneered in the 1960s. Since then, the psychological treatment has shown itself effective in helping a range of conditions. Read on to learn more about CBT and how such treatment can help someone recover from a substance abuse problem.

What is CBT Therapy?

Cognitive behavioral therapy is a form of talk therapy in which a therapist guides an individual through negative, harmful, or challenging thoughts and seeks to reframe them in a new light. This often consists of looking at patterns of behavior or thinking that are stopping an individual from achieving their goals, being healthy, or relating or interacting with others.

Is CBT Effective?

In both clinical practice and in research, CBT has been shown to produce a change in people dealing with issues ranging from depression and anxiety disorders to alcohol and drug use problems. In fact, CBT has been found to be “as effective as, or more effective than, other forms of psychological therapy or psychiatric medications” according to the American Psychological Association (APA).

The effectiveness of CBT is due in large part to its goal of helping individuals change their thought patterns. The core principles of CBT include:

  1. Many psychological problems can be tied back to unhelpful ways of thinking.
  2. These psychological problems may be triggered by learned patterns of unhelpful behavior.
  3. Anyone dealing with psychological problems can learn better ways of coping, and, as a result, find relief from their symptoms and live more effective lives.

Ways CBT Changes Thinking and Behavior

Individuals and their mental health counselor — a psychotherapist or therapist — will meet for a certain number of structured sessions to find ways to change negative thinking and behavioral patterns. For people in recovery, this may include exploring the patterns that led to or encouraged an individual’s substance abuse.

Some of the methods that might be discussed in a CBT session include:

  • learning to recognize how any distorted thinking may be creating problems
  • reexamining negative thoughts with a new awareness
  • finding a better understanding of why people behave the way they do
  • practicing skills to help people problem solve and handle difficult situations, such as triggers that previously led them to abuse drugs or alcohol
  • developing more self-confidence

The patient and the therapist may also collaborate on ways to alter behavior, such as teaching the patient to face their fears rather than avoid them or how to calm their mind during moments of stress. Other CBT strategies may focus on role playing to help the person prepare for stressful interactions, including potential relapse triggers.

CBT and Substance Abuse

One of the reasons that CBT has been proven so effective in the treatment of substance abuse is because it teaches the person to correct problem behaviors rather than trying to eliminate the harmful trait altogether. For example, CBT can help individuals who abused drugs or alcohol to anticipate potential problems and develop strategies to cope with issues when they arise. Since addiction is a chronic condition, CBT works well in helping individuals manage ongoing triggers and patterns of behavior for the long term.

CBT teaches people to recognize potential high-risk situations and to acknowledge early on when they experience cravings. Finally, a CBT therapist can give patients tools and strategies to cope with addictive cravings and avoid potentially risky settings and circumstances.

Our treatment philosophy at Bridges of Hope is based on a comprehensive and integrated approach to holistically addressing issues related to substance use and mental health disorders. We provide superior patient care in Indiana through all-inclusive treatment services focused on evidence-based, therapeutically proven practices.