Founded on the concept that negative thoughts generate negative feelings about the self and reality, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is the most popular type of psychotherapy used by therapists who treat patients with substance abuse problems.
Addiction counselors specializing in CBT attempt to show patients how to recognize and stop these false beliefs about themselves and the world around them by engaging in a type of “talk” therapy that exposes self-defeating thoughts as a form of cognitive dissonance.
Substance abusers often justify their addiction by minimizing conflicting beliefs with the acquisition of new beliefs that make them feel less responsible for their actions. Consequently, successfully treating substance abuse patients with CBT means that therapists must initiate changes to thinking patterns that inhibit a patient’s ability to overcome an addiction.
An Addiction to Negative Thoughts
The addiction to negative thought patterns can be just as strong as an addiction to drugs or alcohol. Patients entering into CBT often begin a session by claiming they are victims who have never been given a fair chance by society. Learned helplessness, or thinking that you no longer have control over adverse events, is characterized by impaired motivation, inability to learn from mistakes and extreme frustration and anxiety.
By employing CBT methodologies, therapists attempt to challenge unsubstantiated perceptions by carefully revealing the inconsistencies of beliefs not based on objective facts.
Cognitive behavioral therapy is designed to demonstrate the following concepts to substance abusers:
- That unexpected events or the actions of others are not the cause negative feelings. Instead, “bad” feelings emerge from the way a patient perceives another person’s physical or verbal actions.
- Learning self-monitoring skills will help patients cope rationally with “triggers” that could lead to relapse. These skills include redirecting negative thoughts with distraction and using natural methods of reducing stress (meditation, breathing techniques, and visualization).
- That accepting difficult situations without allowing strong emotions to distort an objective assessment of the situation lets patients use their coping skills more effectively.
- That CBT complements psychotherapy’s education model by showing that the majority of emotional and behavioral reactions to stressful events are learned reactions that can be unlearned.
In addition, cognitive behavioral therapy logically addresses mental health issues common to substance abusers, such as severe depression, panic disorder and phobias. CBT patients are always impressed and empowered by the positive effects that CBT has on their recovery process and overall well-being.
CBT and Thought Diaries
The structured and instructive methodology binding CBT concepts promotes the efficacy of “homework” assignments given to patients by their therapist. Patients are often asked to keep a diary of their thoughts throughout the day so that a CBT counselor can show them specific patterns and paradigms embodying their beliefs.
CBT sessions involving thought diaries allow patients to explore the origins, meanings and inaccuracies of their thoughts which furthers the ability to eliminate addictive behaviors and ultimately, the controlling power of self-destructive thoughts partially responsible for an addiction.
CBT Can Help Overcome an Addiction
A CBT approach to addictive behaviors may be described as taking the view that substance abuse is a learned behavior acquired through operant conditioning. Consequently, these behaviors can be successfully modified by applying a learning-based intervention such as CBT that comprehensively addresses interpersonal and intrapersonal situations fueling substance abuse.
If you know someone who is suffering from substance abuse, CBT can and will help them overcome their addiction. For more information about CBT, don’t hesitate to seek the advice of professional substance abuse therapists.
Contact us at 877-466-0620 to learn more about CBT and our addiction treatment services.