When it comes to treating addiction, it’s often difficult for individuals to find the right option for their treatment plan. There are many different approaches to detox and treatment, so, it’s important to have information about various options. 

Here at 1st Step Behavioral Health, we know that therapy is one of the most important parts of the treatment process. So, we include some of the most effective types of therapy, including cognitive-behavioral therapy.

Many addiction counselors and specialists use cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to treat alcohol and drug addiction. CBT involves many methods, some of which therapists combine to get the best results. It can be helpful to learn about this type of treatment and some of the cognitive behavioral therapy techniques that clinicians use as you search for treatment options for yourself or a loved one.

What Is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?

therapist uses cognitive behavioral therapy techniques for her patient with an addictionIn the 1960s, Dr. Aaron T. Beck developed cognitive behavioral therapy as a way to prevent addiction relapse. Doctors first started using the therapy to help alcoholics. Later, they adjusted this approach for people who are addicted to drugs as well.

The basis of cognitive behavioral therapy techniques is the idea that learning processes play an important role in the development of substance abuse. Simply put, CBT teaches those who are suffering from addictions to detect and correct bad behaviors. They also learn to address other mental or physical health problems. A central part of CBT is predicting problems and improving self-control with coping strategies.

WHY IS CBT IMPORTANT?

Those who are struggling with substance abuse, whether they are dealing with alcoholism or drug addiction, often adapt harmful thinking patterns. They may deal with strong feelings of guilt, shame, self-doubt, and failure. Sometimes, addiction causes people to feel that they are hopeless and helpless. In many cases, people lose respect for themselves, feeling that they are entirely to blame for the substance use problem that is affecting them and their loved one. 

These negative emotions and thoughts can cause substance abuse problems to worsen. But, when an individual goes through a professional treatment program that includes cognitive behavioral therapy for substance abuse, he or she can develop healthy ways to change negative thought patterns into positive ones. This can assist them in overcoming addiction altogether.

THE PROCESS: ABOUT CBT TECHNIQUES

The purpose of this method is to help those in recovery learn about and gain a better understanding of their own thought processes (cognitive behaviors). This type of approach involves patients giving themselves negative and positive feedback for various actions to see how they react.

For example, they can discover whether they’re less likely to relapse if they practice self-kindness or self-criticism. The patients monitor their reactions after using this method in different scenarios. It could help counteract the thought that self-kindness gives them a free pass to use drugs and allows them to lose control. Behavioral experiments might also help drive out thoughts that it’s impossible to recover.

Exposure to Imagery: With imagery exposure, patients bring to mind recent memories that arouse negative feelings. They remember the events and provide sensory details such as what the surroundings looked like. While holding the memories, they try to label what they felt and thought as well as what their behavioral urges were at the time. They might continue to picture the events in detail until their stress levels fall to half of what they were when the process began.

Exposure to imagery may help to make painful memories less likely to trigger self-criticism and other negative emotions. It can also reduce evasion so that patients can cope in healthier ways.

Pleasant Activity Planning: This is one of the cognitive behavioral therapy techniques that researchers are surprised is effective. They say that it’s very helpful for people who suffer from depression. The purpose of this exercise is to stimulate more positive feelings in the daily lives of patients.

In one version of this method, patients write a schedule for the following seven days. For each day, individuals are encouraged to plan at least one healthy activity that they wouldn’t normally do. This activity might be as simple as eating lunch outside of their office or reading a chapter in a book.

Another version of this method involves scheduling an additional activity that gives patients a sense of accomplishment or mastery. In another advanced version, individuals may be encouraged to schedule a third pleasant activity for each day.

Exposure to Distressing Situations: This approach to therapy involves patients writing a list of the things that they typically avoid. For each item, they rate the level of distress that they believe they would feel if they did it. The scale usually ranges from zero to 10, with zero showing the least amount of distress and 10 showing the most.

The purpose of this list is to get an idea of the severity of a patient’s problems. Starting from the lowest-rated item, individuals experiment with each one several times for a few days. The goal is to reduce their levels of distress to about half of when they started. During this process, individuals in treatment might continue working on each list item until they are able to reduce the level of distress or anxiety they feel while doing that particular activity. Once they have achieved this, they move on to the next item on the list.

COGNITIVE BEHAVIORAL THERAPY TECHNIQUES AT 1ST STEP BEHAVIORAL HEALTH

Overcoming addiction can be very difficult. From detoxing to developing coping healthy mechanisms to living a life of sobriety, people who are in recovery face new hurdles and challenges. But, with the right amount of guidance and support, those who are working to end substance abuse in their lives can find total freedom. 

Those who are struggling with substance abuse and use cognitive behavioral therapy techniques under the supervision of trained clinicians might have a better chance at recovery. At 1st Step Behavioral Health in Pompano Beach, Florida, guests have the option of long-term care from six to 12 months. Along with CBT, 1st Step Behavioral Health offers the following therapies:

Don’t let alcohol or drug addiction take over your life. Beat active addiction by joining a quality rehab center. Call us at 866-319-6126 to get started on your recovery.

References:

https://www.apa.org/ptsd-guideline/patients-and-families/cognitive-behavioral

https://americanaddictioncenters.org/cognitive-behavioral-therapy 

https://www.addictioncenter.com/treatment/cognitive-behavioral-therapy/

About the Author: Brittany Polansky

Brittany PolanskyBrittany has been working in behavioral health since 2012 and is a Primary Clinician at our facility. She is an LCSW and holds a master’s degree in social work. She has great experience with chemical dependency and co-occurring mental health diagnoses as well as various therapeutic techniques. Brittany is passionate about treating all clients with dignity and respect, and providing a safe environment where clients can begin their healing journey in recovery.