As an alternative treatment for addiction, cognitive behavioral therapy is providing increased chances of long term sobriety

If you are seeking a non-12 step drug rehabilitation program, then you may very well already be familiar with the term “Cognitive Behavioral Therapy”, or CBT.  CBT focuses upon moving beyond the addiction, helping the individual to identify unhealthy behavior patterns that may be related to their drug use. This type of therapy results in positive, long-term changes and helps foster the client’s independent growth.

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Understanding the issues behind one’s addiction.

Furthermore, this form of addiction recovery is all about discovering what motivated the person to use drugs initially, and then to continue. Do they have a tendency to make impulsive decisions? The dependency on the substance is often viewed as the main problem, but that is not often the true root issue. What is causing the user to keep returning to the substance? Many users experience withdrawals and become sober, but if they do not establish a plan and learn proper coping mechanisms, they will never STAY sober. All addicts must learn healthy behaviors in order to replace their former drug-using behaviors.

What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?

It is a type of psychotherapy. According to some, this is a form of therapy that focuses on what people think and feel, as well as how to effectively process those emotions. CBT is a short-term, direct approach used to assist clients with identifying what situations make their addiction-associated behaviors more prevalent or more difficult to control. Through identifying which situations evoke those reactions, the client is able to learn to deal with and avoid their specific triggers in a healthy way.

CBT is also known as Rational Emotional Therapy, Rational Living Therapy, and Dialectic Behavioral Therapy. When incorporated into a full recovery program plan, it’s been proven very successful.

What Are The Key Components of CBT?

Skills training and functional analysis are the key components. Let’s take a closer look at both of them:

  • Functional analysis.
    • A therapist performs functional analysis with the client to identify the patient’s feelings, thoughts and the circumstances they are in both before and after they use drugs. This helps the therapist to “see” the high-risk situations that lead a person to use drugs and what they are trying to cope with when they are getting high. This not only helps to identify triggers, but also shows the client what high-risk situations to avoid. Functional analysis provides insight into why the person decided to begin using drugs in the first place. Were they attempting to escape reality? Did they experience a traumatic event either recently or many years ago? No matter what it is, finding out the reason(s) for one’s substance abuse is critical to avoiding or coping with those triggers in the future.cognitive behavioral therapy man
  • Skills training.
    • This is the part where the client will unlearn those addictive behaviors that are destroying their lives, and also form healthy behaviors to replace the old ones. Here are some reasons a person may have turned to drugs to cope:
      • Not learning positive coping strategies to deal with things that happen in life when they become an adult. People who started using drugs at a young age have little to no idea how to handle daily stressors in a healthy way.
      • Living the “fast” drug-induced lifestyle for a length of time becomes routine/comfortable or difficult to escape. Even for users who may have a support system, who have not been in the “lifestyle” for a long time and/or those who do or did live a healthy life at some point, the constant rush of finding the drugs, using them and recovering from them replaced all of their former coping skills and behaviors, and has them trapped. They need assistance in order to retrain themselves in those positive behaviors.


Relevant features of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Here are some things to consider when participating in a CBT program:

  • It is short term. The most successful drug rehabilitation recovery programs treat the client over a period of several months, not just a few weeks. CBT is a treatment that is going to have an end, it is not a “never-ending” treatment approach.
  • It is effective. Even though this type of treatment approach takes place over a shorter course of time than some others, it is still very effective. There are many readily accessible clinical trials proving this to be true.
  • It is structured and directive. Every session has a specific plan prepared and is done the same way every time. CBT is based upon what the client needs, not what the therapist hypothesizes.
  • It’s flexible. It works not only for inpatient/long-term treatment, but for outpatient, individual and group settings as well.
  • Based on an educational model. Most of our emotional and behavioral reactions are learned. We want to learn what the unhealthy behaviors are and replace them with healthy ones. Even though this is a short term approach, the educational foundation serves to provide long-term results. Knowledge of areas of emotional susceptibility is invaluable to those recovering from addiction, on the road to sobriety.