What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and How Does It Lead To Sobriety?
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What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and How Does It Lead To Sobriety?

“A negative mind will never give you a positive life.”  – Zig Ziglar

You may have heard the term Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) in conjunction with addiction treatment, but what does CBT mean, what does it entail, and how successful is this type of therapy in terms of long-term sobriety? 

What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?

A person in recovery may finish a detox program and be completely free from drugs or alcohol in their system, but unless there are effective strategies in place to ensure those suffering from addiction disorders stay sober, relapse will likely occur. CBT is a treatment modality that allows those in recovery to finally let go of unhealthy behaviors without relying on alcohol or drugs. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy also provides a better picture as to why the patient turns to drugs or alcohol in the first place.

CBT is a form of psychotherapy used to treat a wide range of addictions as well as those with co-occurring disorders. According to the National Association of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapists, “CBT is based on the idea that our thoughts cause our feelings and behaviors, not external things, like people, situations, and events. The benefit of this fact is that we can change the way we think to feel/act better even if the situation does not change.” CBT is based on the scientifically supported assumption that “most emotional and behavioral reactions are learned. Therefore, the goal of this type of therapy is to help clients unlearn their unwanted reactions and to learn a new, healthier way of reacting.”

What To Expect During a CBT Session

During addiction treatment, the therapist works with you to focus on specific issues and utilizes CBT techniques to deal with those problems and achieve your goals during each session. Some techniques include monitoring “self-talk” (thoughts) about yourself and the world around you and how you view or interpret them. You and your treatment therapist will work together to identify behaviors, thoughts, and feelings you’ve experienced before and after using drugs or alcohol. This method helps you recognize harmful situations, behaviors, and choices that may lead to a relapse. The end goal of this treatment is to identify risky and unhealthy behaviors, unlearn them, and map out alternative, positive methods of reacting to specific triggers. 

CBT helps individuals develop coping strategies to handle potential stressors or difficulties following addiction treatment. CBT has been shown effective in helping individuals with issues such as:

  • Grief, loss (death, divorce)
  • Mental health disorders
  • Phobias
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Healing from trauma
  • Negative thought patterns
  • Intense stress
  • Relationship issues
  • Problems with communication 

The Outcomes of CBT 

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “Research indicates that the skills individuals learn through cognitive-behavioral approaches remain long after the completion of treatment. Current research focuses on how to produce even more powerful effects by combining CBT with medications for drug abuse and with other types of behavioral therapies. A computer-based CBT system has also been developed and has been shown to be effective in helping reduce drug use following standard drug abuse treatment.” Outcomes of CBT vary based on length of addiction, co-occurring disorders, and how dedicated an individual is using these techniques after completing therapy.

Some of the common skills learned after completing successful cognitive behavioral sessions, (usually 10-20 sessions depending on the severity of issues) include: 

  • Relaxation modalities and stress management skills.
  •   techniques. 
  • Recognizing cravings early.
  • Ability to “bounce-back” from setbacks and disappointment, increased resilience.
  • Recognizing high-risk triggers and situations and avoiding them by engaging in positive activities.
  • Effective communication techniques in relationships.
  • Restructuring negative belief patterns and dysfunctional ways of thinking and replacing them with self-respect and hopeful beliefs.

CBT, Addiction, and Treatment

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy helps those in recovery identify deeply ingrained, self-defeating thoughts and behaviors which may often drive addiction. CBT skills are incredibly useful strategies to help those in recovery unlearn destructive thought patterns and behaviors and replace them with healthy ones. Daylight Recovery Services recognizes that many clients entering our program have a co-occurring mental health issue that needs to be addressed along with their addiction. Our professional team utilizes CBT as one of our treatment modalities to help clients, especially those with a dual diagnosis, achieve long-lasting recovery. 

At Daylight Recovery Services, we tailor treatment to simultaneously address addiction or substance abuse along with any co-occurring disorders. If you or a loved one is struggling with a mental health condition and a substance use disorder or addiction, get help now—contact us at 1-833-2DAYLIGHT to speak with one of our recovery experts. Through treatment, recovery is possible.

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