Mental health refers to our emotional, psychological, and social well-being, and affects how we think, feel, and behave. Mental health can affect anyone, regardless of age, gender, or cultural background. Similarly, mental illnesses are conditions that affect a person’s thinking, feeling, and behavior. Mental illnesses can range from mild to severe and can have a significant impact on a person’s life.
Statistics show that mental illnesses and health conditions are plaguing our society. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), approximately one in five adults in the United States (about 20% of the population) experience mental illness in a given year. Additionally, one in six children between the ages of 6 and 17 have a mental health disorder, such as anxiety or depression. Mental health and illness can also lead to addiction, as many people turn to drugs and/or alcohol to cope with their symptoms.
What Is Addiction?
Addiction is a chronic brain disease characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use, despite harmful consequences.
Gabor Mate, a physician and addiction expert, once said, “The question is not why the addiction, but why the pain?” Mental illness and trauma can cause emotional pain and discomfort, which can lead individuals to use drugs or alcohol as a coping mechanism — to feel better. Substance use can temporarily alleviate the pain and provide a sense of relief, leading to a cycle of addiction.
Addiction can also worsen mental health conditions. Substance use can cause chemical imbalances in the brain, leading to mood swings, anxiety, and depression, as well as many other side effects. This too creates a vicious cycle where individuals use substances to cope with their mental health symptoms, while substance use worsens their mental health and well-being.
Treatments For Addiction
There are various treatment options for addiction, including therapy, medication-assisted treatment, and support groups. Therapy can help individuals identify the root causes of their addiction and develop healthy coping mechanisms. Medication-assisted treatment can help reduce cravings and prevent relapse. Support groups can provide a sense of community, support, and belonging, as well as accountability.
It is essential to address both the addiction and the underlying mental health issues when treating individuals with co-occurring disorders — which is the case more often than not. By treating the root causes of addiction, individuals can achieve lasting recovery and improve their overall mental health and well-being.
What Is CBT?
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a type of psychotherapy that is effective in the treatment of addiction. Addiction is often linked to underlying mental health conditions or illnesses, such as anxiety, depression, or trauma, and CBT aims to address these underlying issues in addition to the addiction disorder itself.
The fundamental premise of CBT is that negative patterns of thinking and behavior can be changed by developing new and positive patterns. For individuals struggling with addiction, this means identifying the underlying beliefs and thoughts about themselves and their environment that may contribute to addictive behaviors and then working to change these patterns.
Cognitive behavioral therapy is backed by a strong evidence base. Many studies have shown that CBT is effective in treating addiction, particularly when used in combination with other treatments.
How Does CBT Work?
CBT for addiction often involves identifying triggers for addictive behaviors, such as stress or negative emotions, and developing alternative coping strategies. This may involve learning relaxation techniques, and problem-solving skills, or developing new, healthy habits to replace addictive behaviors.
In addition to addressing addictive behaviors directly, CBT also contends with the underlying mental health conditions or illnesses that may cause addiction. For example, if someone is struggling with depression and using drugs or alcohol to cope, CBT may focus on treating depression and addiction.
Cognitive behavioral therapy for addiction is typically conducted in a one-on-one setting with a trained therapist and may be used in combination with other treatments, such as medication-assisted treatment or support groups. Like other forms of CBT, it is a short-term, goal-oriented therapy that aims to help individuals develop the skills and strategies they need to maintain recovery long-term.
We Can Help You
If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, CBT may be a worthwhile treatment option. By addressing the underlying mental health conditions or illnesses that may contribute to addiction, as well as the addictive behaviors themselves, CBT can help individuals achieve and maintain long-term recovery. Please reach out to us, as we have the means and motivation to help you through mental health conditions such as addiction.