Addiction is a complicated disease that affects both body and mind. Over time, substance abuse can compound emotional and behavioral issues that may touch nearly every aspect of an addict’s life.

In the end, addiction can leave your life a broken mess. So when it comes time to pick up the pieces, you need every tool available so you can win this painful battle.

One of the strongest means of understanding yourself, your addiction, and how you can stay sober comes from cognitive behavioral therapy or CBT.

But what is this powerful treatment option and how can it set you up for success?

Keep reading to find out more about the goal of cognitive therapy and how it can help you overcome your drug addiction.

What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?

Cognitive behavioral therapy, often shortened to CBT, is one of the most popular forms of psychotherapy.

Though it’s quite popular, it’s also relatively new, with its origins rooted in the 1960s.

Dr. Aaron Beck created CBT as a means of examining patients symptoms more thoroughly instead of simply looking for a solution. He felt that by better understanding a patient’s cognitive behaviors, it was possible to identify underlying issues and create a more effective treatment plan on a patient-by-patient basis.

Since its inception, the effectiveness of CBT has been the subject of many studies, almost all of which have found CBT to be a useful and efficient form of treatment.

It’s also a versatile treatment plan. CBT is useful in the treatment of a variety of disorders or behavioral problems common in addicts or recovering addicts, such as:

  • Anxiety.
  • Depression.
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
  • Eating disorders.
  • Extreme anger.
  • Marital concerns.

CBT is often far more limited than other forms of psychotherapy. As a result, it may also be a quicker form of therapy.

What Is the Goal of Cognitive Therapy?

The primary objective of CBT is to address and understand mental processes that cause unwanted feelings or behaviors.

For addicts, this means tackling tough subjects like one’s reasons for using drugs while also addressing how a person’s drug use may impact their interpersonal relationships.

Most CBT practitioners believe that unwanted behaviors such as addiction are caused by automatic negative thoughts or ANTs.

Say a person begins experimenting with drugs as a means of self-medicating. Soon, they may start to feel guilty about their drug use, which further exacerbates these negative thought patterns. This spiral of negativity can quickly manifest into a variety of other destructive thought patterns and behaviors.

In essence, CBT is less concerned with how an addict started using, instead, focusing on why they use.

What to Expect from a First CBT Session

CBT can be an overwhelming experience, especially if you’ve never tried other forms of psychotherapy.

However, demystifying the process can make the ordeal far less intimidating and can help you gain the courage to seek treatment.

Here are a few things to expect from your first therapy session.

An Overview of CBT

First and foremost, your doctor will provide you with a quick history of CBT as well as its relevance to the world of addiction.

Expect to hear some things you may have learned about from this article, as well as an overview of your doctor’s history.

Questions About General Health

Your doctor will likely ask a few basic questions about your general health, as well as your genetic history.

In many instances, addiction can be genetic, so it’s important to be forthcoming and honest with your doctor if your family has a history of addiction.

Questions About Drug Usage

On the subject of honesty, it’s crucial that you tell the entire truth about your history of drug use. Though it may be uncomfortable, what you say to your doctor is kept confidential provided you’re not a risk to yourself or someone else.

You’ll provide your doctor with a general timeline of your history of drug use.

Be sure to include things like the first time you started using when you started to notice signs of addiction and any events that led to you choosing to seek treatment.

Questions About History of Mental Health

There’s a distinct correlation between mental health risks and substance abuse. Almost half of all substance abusers also struggle with their mental health.

Furthermore, both addiction and mental health conditions are inheritable. Exploring your family history of mental health conditions can help you better understand the hurdles you’re facing.

A Bit of Discomfort

Understandably, these may not be subjects you’re excited to talk about. That’s reasonable.

As a result, you can expect to feel shy or a little nervous during your first visit. Still, be open and honest with your therapist, no matter how nervous you’re feeling.

Discussion of Personal Goals

The first session is often the most important, as it’s where you and your therapist establish your goals.

You may want to better understand your reasons for using drugs, for instance. Or maybe you’re hoping to identify triggers that lead to destructive behaviors.

Your goals should align with your personal wellness as well as your long term strategy for sustained recovery.


Your therapist will likely send you home with a questionnaire or exercise to complete before your next session.

These assignments are short, easy ways to solidify the things you’ve talked about during your CBT sessions. And don’t worry, there isn’t a ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to complete an exercise.

It’s all about better understanding yourself.

Finding a Reputable Therapist

If you like what you’ve read thus far, you may have an interest in finding a treatment option near you. That’s great!

However, finding the right therapist can take a great deal of time. Also, many therapists have a waiting list, so it may be a few weeks before your first session.

When looking for a therapist, consider:

  • Your insurance.
  • Their experience level.
  • Their areas of expertise and how it aligns with your needs.
  • Their certifications.

Depending on the severity of your addiction, it may be best to consider an inpatient treatment plan at first as a means of jumpstarting your sobriety.

CBT and Recovery: A Match Made in Heaven

By providing you with newer, healthier thought patterns and a better understanding of your history with addiction, CBT can be a powerful tool that can help you sustain your sobriety long after you leave rehab.

The goal of cognitive therapy is to give you the strength needed to overcome your addiction. Though it may seem impossible at first, over time you’ll learn more effective coping strategies and ways to escape negative thought patterns.

A better life begins with you. If you’d like to learn more about addiction treatment options, be sure to get in touch today.

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