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The Role of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in Addiction Treatment Programs

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Cognitive behavioral therapy in addiction treatment is part of a comprehensive treatment approach. The goal of this type of therapy is to help people manage their thoughts and change how they behave.  

As an integral part of an addiction treatment curriculum, CBT helps a person overcome addiction. Furthermore, it helps them to improve their lives in general. If you’d like to understand how CBT can help you overcome substance abuse, keep reading. You’ll find that the real problem with addiction is that it is more than a physical condition.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is also known as psychotherapy or talk therapy. The role of cognitive-behavioral therapy in addiction treatment is evidenced by the positive results. Studies show that the people who participate in CBT maintain sobriety over the long term.What Is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?

CBT is often used in conjunction with other therapies. It is an effective tool that teaches people ways to better manage daily stress and remain sober.

Who Is a Candidate for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?

People benefit from CBT in many ways, but those with mental health disorders in addition to substance use disorders (SUDs) benefit the most. Because substance use is often accompanied by mental health problems, cognitive-behavioral therapy treats both disorders simultaneously.

A person who struggles with any of the following can benefit from CBT:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Panic disorders
  • Anger issues

CBT is also effective for treating other conditions such as:

  • PTSD
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Eating disorders
  • ADHD
  • OCD
  • Self-harming behaviors
  • Phobias
  • Substance Use Disorder
  • Personality disorders
  • Schizophrenia

Adults and children can benefit from cognitive-behavioral therapy sessions.

3 Basic Principles of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive-behavioral therapy is based on the idea that behavior, thoughts, and feelings are interconnected. Through cognitive behavior therapy, people learn to change their perspectives on how to deal with life’s challenges.  

The basic principles of CBT are:

> Core beliefs.  Core beliefs stem from childhood experiences, how a person view’s themself, their environment, and their beliefs about these elements.

> Dysfunctional assumptions.  It’s easy for humans to hold onto negative rather than positive. As a result, irrational thought patterns distort their perception of reality.

> Automatic negative thoughts.  Some people occupy their minds with negative perceptions of reality without even realizing it. Known as ‘cognitive distortions, these thought patterns shape how a person responds to a situation.

CBT helps a person realize that they have a choice in how they respond to daily situations. When applied to addiction treatment, CBT teaches people how to cope with challenges without the need for drugs or alcohol.

Phases of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

During cognitive-behavioral therapy, you will work with the therapist through these 4 different stages:

  1. Assessment stage – You and the therapist get to know each other. 
  2. Cognitive stage – Talking about and understanding your thoughts.
  3. Behavior stage – Applying the new thought patterns to your daily life.
  4. Learning stage – Working with the therapist to make sure the changes are permanent.

These stages aren’t necessarily separate. The therapist may mix them up somewhat to adapt to your specific needs.  

What to Expect During a CBT Session

In your first CBT session, the therapist will talk to you about your concerns and current physical and emotional health. This is an opportunity for the therapist to understand your goals and needs. The discussion helps the therapist plan a course of action for your therapy.  

During therapy, the therapist will encourage you to talk openly about your thoughts and feelings. You’ll be asked to do homework that includes activities that will build on and apply what you’ve learned during the CBT sessions.  

The activities may include journaling, mindfulness meditation, problem-solving, relaxation techniques, worksheets, behavioral experiments, and more. 

A CBT session typically involves the following steps:

  • Assists you in identifying conditions and situations in your life that are troubling.
  • Helps you become aware of how you feel about the problems.
  • Teaches you how to recognize negative thinking that contributes to your problems.
  • Encourages you to change the negative thought patterns or perceptions of what is happening in your life.  

CBT generally lasts from five to twenty sessions. Keep in mind that this therapy is not a cure for your substance use problems. However, it can empower you to deal with them more effectively and to maintain your sobriety.

Benefits of CBT in Addiction Treatment

By uncovering the core negative thoughts behind your actions and changing these thoughts, you can also change the resulting behaviors.  

However, before you can begin CBT, you must undergo detoxification. Detox helps remove all traces of the addictive substance you’ve been using. In this way, you are able to focus on healing the behavioral and emotional aspects of substance abuse.

Addiction is a complex disorder characterized by a physical dependence on a substance compounded by mental disorders. For lasting recovery, a comprehensive, evidence-based treatment approach is your best option.

Achieve Lasting Recovery with CBT at Design for Change

At Design, for Change Recovery, our highly qualified therapists are experienced in using CBT as part of a multidisciplinary approach to addiction treatment. Our program also includes counseling programs, holistic treatment, MAT, family therapy, and more.  

Learning to manage problematic behavior is key to maintaining a sober lifestyle. We want to help you make it happen. Contact our Lancaster, CA facility today and start a more fulfilling and healthier future.  


The Role of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy in Addiction Treatment Programs