Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, or CBT, is an enormously successful form of therapy for treating addiction. CBT for addiction recovery will help you to identify and reframe harmful thoughts and behaviours which cause, fuel or result in addiction. It’s often used in rehab alongside other types of addiction therapies and treatments but can also be used after you leave rehab to help you stay sober or drug-free.
CBT is a form of therapy that uses talking to identify and work on mental, multiple psychological and emotional issues. With the help of a counsellor or therapist, you can learn how to change your negative thoughts and behaviours so that you can better manage your problems.
CBT is based on the idea that our thoughts, emotions and behaviours are all linked and that negative or unhealthy ones, such as those that exist around addiction, can create a vicious cycle. CBT attempts to break this pattern by helping you change your thinking and behaviour patterns.
The main goals of CBT include:
There are six main stages of CBT, whether you are undergoing CBT therapy for alcohol addiction, drug addiction or addictive behaviours. Each of these stages has a different aim, but all work towards the final goal of helping you to recognise and change the behaviours, thoughts and emotions that are connected to your addiction.
The six stages of CBT for drug addiction, alcohol addiction and behavioural addiction are:
During the initial assessment, you will work with your therapist to get a better understanding of your addiction. Your therapist will ask you a series of questions about your addiction and the feelings and thoughts you have about it. This will give your therapist a clearer understanding of the way your addiction affects your thoughts and behaviour. If you are unable to open up or communicate effectively, you may be psychologically assessed for more information.
During the second stage of CBT for addiction recovery, you will learn new ways of looking at things which will change your perceptions. For example, if you have an eating disorder, you might learn to look at your body in a different way or be taught about unrealistic body images. This can help you to look at yourself and your condition in a new light.
This is one of the most important CBT techniques for drug addiction and other conditions because the skills you learn here will help to prevent future relapse. They may be new skills for coping during difficult moments, strategies for avoiding situations or places where triggers may arrive or a combination of both.
Once you have learned these new skills you can then practice them in a series of therapist-led exercises. This practice in a controlled environment will make it easier to use them in your real life to prevent relapse and cope with the obstacles that often arise on the addiction recovery journey.
This stage involves you further applying and honing those new skills through further practice with the advice and guidance of your therapist.
This final stage occurs after you leave rehab and involves your therapist following up to check that you are effectively applying your new skills to cope with post-rehab challenges.
Several different types of CBT are available, each with its own practical applications. The most widely used forms of CBT during rehab treatment include:
Exposure therapy involves you working in conjunction with your therapist to slowly increase your exposure to your addictive triggers and situations where relapse may occur. For example, if you are undergoing CBT for alcohol addiction, you may start by looking at pictures of alcohol or being in the presence of people drinking. As you progress, you will be exposed to more intense triggers such as being in a bar or club or smelling alcohol. The idea is that by slowly increasing your exposure in a controlled and safe environment, you will become less sensitive to your triggers and better able to cope if you are exposed to them in the real world.
Cognitive restructuring is a type of CBT that helps you to identify and challenge the negative thoughts and beliefs that are connected to your addiction. For example, someone with an eating disorder may believe that they are fat even when they are at a healthy weight. This type of thinking can lead to disordered eating behaviours. By challenging these negative thoughts and beliefs, you can start to see yourself and your addiction in a more positive light, which can help you on the road to recovery.
Behavioural experiments are a type of CBT that involve testing out your thoughts and misconceptions about your addiction. For example, someone with an alcohol addiction may believe that they are unable to enjoy a social event without drinking. A behavioural experiment would involve attending a social event and not drinking to see if this is actually the case. Behavioural experiments can help you to change the perceptions you have about your addiction and remove self-imposed mental obstacles to recovery.
CBT for addiction treatment can be very effective, first of all, because it is a goals-based method of treatment. This is very important for people in addiction recovery because addiction clouds your ability to self-reflect, making it difficult to see the progress you’re making. CBT provides measurable achievements that can be accomplished and celebrated. As you complete each achievement, ticking it off will give you the motivation to tackle the next one, building your confidence and self-esteem progressively.
At Liberty House, we are proud to offer CBT to all clients who wish to overcome their addictions in a safe and welcoming environment. At our centre, the sessions will be conducted by an in-house therapist who is well trained and skilled in the field of addiction treatment. Lasting from anywhere between one hour and ninety minutes, our CBT sessions take place either in a group setting or over the course of individual counselling. We believe that this variety gives our residents the flexibility to work independently, as well as with other residents who are undergoing similar challenges, motivating one another towards the goal of long-lasting recovery. If you would like to learn any more about how we can incorporate CBT into your treatment plan, do not hesitate to contact a member of our team right away.