The Usefulness of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in Substance Treatment

Today, modern substance treatment programs have a range of effective tools to support your drug or alcohol recovery. One essential tool is a type of psychotherapy called behavioral therapy. This therapy helps you make changes in your everyday behavior that support sobriety and well-being.

A variety of treatment approaches fall under the larger heading of behavioral therapy. One widely used approach is cognitive behavioral therapy, also known as CBT. A CBT program not only supports your recovery from substance addiction. It also supports your recovery from the mental health issues that often occur alongside addiction. For these reasons, CBT therapy near you may be key to your efforts to stop using drugs or alcohol.

What Is CBT

What is CBT Therapy
Cognitive behavioral therapy is named for its focus on three things that shape day-to-day reality for all human beings. The first two of these things are your cognitive processes, more commonly known as your thoughts and feelings. The third is your behavior.

In the CBT model, your thoughts and feelings drive your behavior. Positive, healthy thoughts and feelings tend to increase your well-being. Negative, unhealthy thoughts and feelings tend to have the opposite effect. The therapy helps you make changes that increase your sense of wellness. It does so by helping you:

  • Identify your habitual, negative patterns of thought and feeling
  • Recognize the impact of negative thoughts and emotions on your behavior
  • Change your thoughts, emotions and behaviors in beneficial ways

CBT is goal-oriented. It aims to provide workable solutions to specific problems affecting you. This focused approach supports realistic change that improves your everyday life. It also helps explain why you can complete CBT faster than you can complete many other kinds of therapy. Some people meet their goals in as little as five sessions. Others need up to 20 sessions to set positive results. In some circumstances, it may take longer to finish a CBT program.

Cognitive behavioral therapy is also evidence-based. This means that it has been studied extensively by researchers. It also means that it is known to help many people affected by certain mental health conditions.

The Steps of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy takes place in a series of steps. When you first start your program, you will talk to your therapist about the specific kinds of problems affecting you. Together, the two of you will use this information to determine your treatment goals. Your therapist may also ask you questions to further clarify those goals.

The next step of CBT makes use of a question-and-answer format. It is designed to help you recognize the thoughts, emotions and behaviors that have a negative impact on you. Typically, your therapist will ask you about your habitual responses to certain situations. These responses help reveal problem areas that you need to work on.

After identifying problem areas, you engage in the process of changing them. Your therapist may use a number of techniques to help you achieve this goal. Examples of commonly used CBT techniques include:

  • Direct confrontation of your fears in a carefully monitored setting
  • Role playing exercises that help you work through difficult situations
  • Stress management and relaxation exercises

The specific options in use may vary from person to person. During CBT, you also develop coping skills that help you:

  • Anticipate the kinds of situations likely to cause you problems in the future
  • Avoid such situations as often as possible
  • Successfully deal with situations that you cannot avoid

The bulk of your participation in CBT takes place during sessions with your therapist. Between sessions, you will practice your newfound abilities. When you meet again, you and your therapist will review your progress and make any necessary adjustments.

What Is CBT Used to Treat

What Is CBT Used to Treat

Cognitive behavioral therapy was originally created to help people in alcohol treatment avoid relapses. It is now also used to help people addicted to:

  • Cocaine
  • Methamphetamine
  • Marijuana

In addition, the therapy plays a part in many other forms of mental health treatment. Specific conditions that may benefit from its use include:

  • Major depression and other depressive illnesses
  • Various kinds of anxiety disorder
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder, or PTSD
  • Anorexia and other eating disorders
  • Schizophrenia and other related conditions
  • Bipolar I disorder and other bipolar illnesses

CBT may also be used in the treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Who Benefits From Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

If you are affected by any of these conditions, there is a good chance that you will benefit from CBT. However, the therapy does not produce positive results for everyone. Your therapist will help you determine if CBT is the best option in your particular case.

What to Expect From Using CBT for Addiction Treatment

The general outlines of CBT are the same regardless of the condition affecting you. Within this framework, the therapy is adjusted to meet your specific needs. If you are affected by addiction, you identify the thoughts, emotions and behaviors that:

  • Initially pushed you toward using drugs or alcohol
  • Help sustain your current use of drugs or alcohol
  • Otherwise destabilize your sense of well-being

With guidance from your therapist, you develop replacement thoughts, emotions and behaviors that help you:

  • Resolve your underlying motivations for substance use
  • Steer toward sobriety instead of continued drug or alcohol use
  • Stabilize and strengthen your sense of well-being

CBT for addiction treatment also focuses on the development of certain coping skills. Common examples of these skills include:

  • Learning to recognize when your desire to use drugs or alcohol is increasing
  • Making note of the situations that tend to trigger this increased desire
  • Avoiding those situations or leaving them when they arise
  • Tolerating your substance cravings in situations you cannot avoid

Other Forms of Treatment

Other Forms of CBT Therapy

Your recovery plan may only include CBT. However, many people also receive other forms of treatment while in rehab. In addition to CBT, you may receive other kinds of therapy. Depending on the type of addiction affecting you, potential options may include:

  • Motivational enhancement therapy
  • Contingency management
  • 12-step facilitation therapy
  • Family behavior therapy
  • Community reinforcement

If you are addicted to alcohol or opioids, your plan may also include one or more medications.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment and CBT

Some people affected by addiction do not have any additional mental health issues. However, roughly 50 percent of all people with drug or alcohol problems also qualify for a separate mental health diagnosis. If you fall into this second category, you have something called dual diagnosis or co-occurring disorder.

Almost any form of addiction may play a role in dual diagnosis. Mental illnesses that tend to occur in combination with addiction include:

  • Depressive disorders like major depression
  • Anxiety disorders
  • PTSD
  • Bipolar disorders
  • Schizophrenic disorders
  • ADHD, or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder

Eating disorders and conduct disorders are also relatively common.

Dual diagnosis treatment must always focus on your entire mental health outlook. If your treatment plan focuses solely on addiction, your unaddressed mental illness can impede your recovery. And if your plan focuses solely on your additional mental illness, your unaddressed addiction can have the same negative effect.

Cognitive behavioral therapy can be an ideal choice for treating dual diagnosis. Why? It has known benefits for people affected by drug or alcohol problems. It also has known benefits for people affected by a wide range of other mental health conditions. Given these facts, it makes sense that dual diagnosis treatment and CBT go hand in hand.

Research backs up this assumption. For example, CBT has been successfully used to help people affected by substance problems and PTSD. The therapy can even help relieve severe PTSD symptoms. Studies also support the use of CBT for dual diagnosis cases involved mood disorders. This is the collective term for depressive disorders and bipolar disorders.

Are There Risks to CBT Therapy

Properly conducted cognitive behavioral therapy is considered a low-risk treatment option. However, there are certain things to keep in mind. First, you may feel uncomfortable at various times during your therapy. This is true because all forms of CBT require you to examine how you think, feel and behave. Such an examination will likely cause some degree of emotional distress.

But, as a rule, the distress you feel in CBT is temporary. Your therapist will help you cope with it and maintain perspective as you go through treatment. And ultimately, the discomfort you experience serves an important therapeutic purpose. It does so by revealing the things you need to change in order to break the cycle of addiction.

The key to safe CBT near you is a trained, experienced therapist. The expertise provided by this kind of professional helps ensure that therapy does not overtax your abilities. It also helps ensure that you get as much out of CBT as possible.

Finding a Rehab That Uses Effective Behavioral Therapies

Effective Behavioral Therapies

Today, it is easier than ever to find a rehab that uses effective behavioral therapies. However, not all providers offer these therapies. In addition, not all behavioral therapy providers offer the same high standard of care.

How can you identify well-designed programs? Top behavioral therapy rehabs have features that include:

  • Evidence-based treatments known to benefit many people
  • Staff members specifically trained to carry out those treatments
  • Customized recovery plans geared toward your unique needs

In addition, effective rehabs typically feature a comfortable, relaxing treatment environment.

Does Insurance Cover CBT Therapy in Rehab

Today, most insurance plans cover at least some of the cost of substance treatment. CBT is one of the most widely used substance treatment options. This means that chances are high that your plan will help pay for the cost of CBT near you. Ask your insurance provider for details on your level of coverage.

Find CBT Therapy Near Me at Pathfinders Colorado

Cognitive behavioral therapy is a treatment that helps you recognize harmful thoughts, emotions and behaviors. It also helps you make positive changes in your normal ways of thinking, reacting and behaving. Today, CBT therapy plays a prominent role in modern substance treatment programs. It may also play a part in dual diagnosis treatment.

CBT has a range of evidence-based benefits. Those benefits include an increased understanding of your reasons for drinking or taking drugs. They also include significant improvements in your ability to stay substance-free. The therapy helps you meet these crucial goals during your time in rehab. And once you leave rehab, its positive influence continues to support you.

Need CBT therapy near you in Colorado? The experts at Pathfinders are standing by to assist you. We feature this therapy as part of our programs for multiple forms of addiction. In addition, we use CBT in our specialized dual diagnosis program. Whether you need inpatient or outpatient recovery support, Pathfinders has options that fit your needs. For more information, just call us today or fill out our convenient contact form.


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