Cognitive-behavioural therapy or CBT for short is one of the more common forms of therapy that is used to treat a wide range of issues from common mental health disorder such as depression and anxiety to addictions, including alcohol addictions, drug addictions, and other behavioural addictions (gambling, sex, porn, shopping, etc).
Often, when it comes to dealing with addiction, a person has to first deal with thoughts, behaviours, and choices that are unhealthy and damaging and replace them with new, healthy ones, which is a major part of cognitive-behavioural therapy.
You have to deal with these destructive habits first because they act as a major recovery roadblock. If you do not have new healthy coping mechanisms and new, healthy thought processes, you will struggle to get over the old, unhealthy ones that led you to the behaviours and substances you are addicted to in the first place.
Cognitive behavioural therapy works by starting with the thought processes. People who practice and support CBT believe that thoughts are the key to changing behaviour, and if you do not change a person’s thoughts, you will not be able to change their actions.
So the first step to CBT for addiction is identifying any negative thought patterns that encourage or contribute to a substance or behavioural addiction.
Your counsellor will be able to help you identify these and, from there, will be able to develop a more specific and focused treatment plan based on your specific thought patterns.
Once you identify your destructive thought patterns and your therapist comes up with a focused treatment plan, you and your therapist will move on to working towards developing new, healthy patterns.
One by one, you will learn, with the help of your therapist, how to replace dysfunctional thoughts and beliefs with positive ones. After you gain control over your thoughts, your behaviours should start to shift, which will help you stay sober and avoid relapse.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy may also be used to treat co-occurring disorders. Co-occurring disorders, in relation to addiction, are any mental health disorders that a person has, in addition to their addiction.
These could be disorders that the person had from before they developed their addiction or disorders that developed, at least in part, because of their addiction. Most of the time, these disorders need to be treated if a person has any hope of getting and staying sober.
Furthermore, cognitive behavioural therapy is often used in tandem with other treatment methods like medication, or group therapy, or other forms of psychotherapy.
This is especially true in rehab facilities, as rehab almost always consists of many forms of treatment working together to help a person through the early stages of sobriety.
When you are looking into different treatment and therapy options, it can be overwhelming to try to choose one. There are so many opinions about a wide range of different therapy options.
Cognitive behavioural therapy is a great option that many people end up choosing, so it is important to understand the specific benefits of this form of therapy.
First, CBT is an evidence-based therapy. That means there has been lots of research and studies that have gone into developing the techniques used by cognitive behavioural therapists, and it has proven to effective at treating a variety of disorders.
More specifically, it has proved to be a highly effective way of treating both substance addictions and behavioural addictions. Beyond that, there is a very wide range of both short-term and long-term benefits to CBT.
Right off the bat, it is important to acknowledge that if you are looking for a quick, one session fix, CBT will not provide that for you.
However, there are not any proven quick-fix methods for recovering from addiction because it is an ongoing process that requires a long-term commitment to growth and sobriety.
However, CBT is not necessarily a long-term form of counselling, but for addiction, it is recommended that after the CBT is over, you continue on with some other form of long-term treatment, which could be going to support groups or starting another form of therapy like psychotherapy.
When it comes to addiction, CBT is used to set the foundations for recovery by helping a person identify the beliefs and thought patterns that they have that contribute to their addiction.
Most therapists will require a minimum of four weeks of CBT treatment, though it is common that patients need more than that.
The goal of cognitive behavioural therapy is not simply to redefine a couple of thought processes but rather to give people the skills that they require to do that continually with every unhealthy thought pattern that they discover over time.
Every individual will need to work with their therapist to figure out how long it is going to take them to lay the foundations for recovery that CBT provides.
However, even when you do pick a certain number of sessions, it is a good idea to keep yourself open, if at all possible, that you may end up needing more time.
Therapy is not really a process that can be marked when you research a certain point in time, but rather when you reach certain progress points that can be assessed by your therapist.
As stated before, cognitive behavioural therapy can be used to treat a fairly wide range of disorders and therefore is a fairly common form of therapy.
Below are some of the more common things treated with CBT, all of which can be related to addiction in some way:
This form of addiction is when a person develops a psychological or physical dependency on a substance (alcohol or drugs) that causes them to be unable to control how often or how much they drink or consume the drug
Gambling addiction is an impulse control problem, just like other forms of addiction. When someone gambles, they often experience a spike of endorphins and adrenaline. This spike can be even greater if they win. A person can very easily become addicted to that feeling and may find themselves gambling to experience said feeling even if they do not have the financial capacity to gamble
This form of addiction can be to a variety of different things besides sex itself. A person can develop addictions to pornography, prostitution, masturbation, sadistic behaviour, masochistic behaviour, voyeurism, and more. There a number of plausible causes for sexual addictions ranging from biological causes to psychological causes to social causes
There is a wide range of different eating disorders, all categorised by different behaviours and eating habits that are irregular and dangerous. These disorders are often brought on due to a person's concern about the size, shape, or weight of their body
Post-traumatic stress disorder is an anxiety disorder that develops due to some sort of trauma that a person faces. This is most commonly referenced when talking about veterans, though anyone who experiences trauma can develop PTSD
Obsessive-compulsive disorder is categorised by a person experiencing strong, uncontrollable compulsions to partake in a specific behaviour(s). OCD usually significantly impairs a person's ability to function at a healthy level
Anxiety and depression are two of the most common mental health disorders and can be either individual disorders that a person experiences or co-occurring disorders to any number of other ones
Co-dependency is categorised by an excessive reliance (emotional or psychological) on another person, most often a romantic partner though it does not have to be. Often at least one of the people in a co-dependent relationship has some sort of illness, disorder, or addiction
There are tons of different techniques that therapists use in CBT, but below are four of the more common techniques that you might come across.
Remember, if your therapist is ever using a technique that you have questions about, ask them, it is your treatment.
Thought records are when a person writes down their automatic thoughts when certain things happen. They then can take this record of thoughts and go through each one to figure out if they are objectively correct.
A person can determine this by listing out all evidence for and against their automatic thoughts. For example, if a person makes a small mistake and immediately thinks about how stupid they are, they would write that thought down.
In the evidence for that thought column, they may have one or two things, such as what the mistake was, but the goal is to have more things in the against column when it comes to negative thoughts.
Evidence against the thought could be statements like everyone makes mistakes or listing out things that they do that is not stupid.
This helps a person figure out whether that responds better to self-kindness of self-constructive criticism. People figure out by tracking and contrasting different phrasing and their response to each phrase to help them figure out works for them.
If self-criticism works best for you, you need to make sure that it is always constructive and does not mean that you are shaming yourself.
For this exercise, a person identifies a memory that produces negative feelings and take note of every sight, sound emotion, thought, and impulse that they relate to that memory.
By continually revisiting these painful memories and taking note of the different parts, they lose power over time.
With a pleasant activity schedule, a person makes a list of healthy and fun activities and then schedule into their daily routines. These tasks should be fun, easy, and encourage positive emotions.
Making sure these activities are a part of your schedule helps reduce negative thoughts and emotions on a day-to-day basis.
You can receive CBT on an individual therapy basis where you find your therapist and attend sessions on a generally weekly basis.
However, when it comes to addiction, it is common that people at least start their CBT treatment while they are in rehab, whether that be inpatient or outpatient rehab.
As stated above, CBT is usually just one of several forms of treatment that a person receives while in rehab, though it can be one of the more important forms.
Because rehab is about setting up a person to stay sober once they leave and CBT helps lay a foundation for long-term recovery, the two often go hand in hand.
Of course, if you are not interested in CBT, you can talk to the rehab you are looking into about that and see if they are willing to accommodate you in that way. You should be able to find one that will.
At Rehab 4 Addiction, we offer high-quality rehabilitation & detoxification services tailored to your individual needs.
To discover your road to recovery, call us today on 0800 140 4690.