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Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Against Addictions

Knowledge Of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

The problem of treating addiction and mental illness, which can be a result of unhealthy thoughts and feelings can be addressed by cognitive-behavioural therapy.

Dr. Aaron T. Beck started Cognitive Behavioural Therapy in the 60s which is a branch of mental health counselling.


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Getting rid of an addiction needs certain resources and people. Drug addiction treatment programs, both outpatient and residential, will help you avoid relapses and stay sober afterwards. Mental health counsellors will help you learn the skills you need to apply in your life to ensure complete recovery.

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Cognitive behavioural therapy helps people deal with dysfunctional thoughts and feelings and to recover from addiction.


Today, cognitive behavioural therapy is widely used to treat addictions. CBT educates recovering addicts to establish connections between their thoughts, feelings and actions and to increase awareness about how these matters can have an impact on recovery.

Apart from addiction, CBT is also used for treating co-occurring disorders such as:

  • Panicking
  • Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder [OCD]
  • Eating disorders
  • Various forms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

If you suffer from addiction or any of those issues listed, please look for a CBT treatment facility for help.


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Cognitive Behavioural Therapy And How It Works

Many harmful actions and emotions which people indulge in do not fall in the rational or the logical category and these actions can be identified by cognitive-behavioural therapy. The feelings and behaviours of people could be coming as a direct result from past experiences and factors related to the environment.

A recovering user may have certain negative thoughts that automatically come to mind and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy can help to identify them. An automatic thought is impulse-based; it often comes from misrepresentations and internally generated feelings such as self-doubt and fear. The abuse of drugs or alcohol is in many cases an attempt to get rid of these negative thoughts.


Addicts find it easier to overcome their addiction when they begin to understand why they are acting or feeling in a certain manner and how their feelings and actions are leading them to the use of prohibited substances.

Recovering addicts can soothe the pain caused by distressful memories by repeatedly revisiting them. The addicts then get a fresh opportunity to learn positive behaviours in order to replace their addiction for alcohol or drugs.


Dependency Treatment And Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

The root causes of depression and anxiety which are common among people, and are co-occurring disorders with addiction emanate from the automatic thoughts which have imbibed themselves within the individual.

What this says is dark thoughts have a higher possibility of making a person start abusing substances.

One of the main things that prevent people from staying clean are triggers and these are things, situations or people that bring about a strong urge to use. The National Institute On Drug Abuse has mentioned that help can be received by recovering addicts from cognitive-behavioural therapy to deal with the triggers which result in the cravings.


Cbt Helps Patients To Get Past Drug Addiction And Alcoholism By

  • Aids the patient to take control of their life, rejecting past thoughts and beliefs that trigger low self-esteem and feelings of rejection.
  • To improve moods, CBT can provide tools that the recovering user can employ on their own.
  • Carrying out training on effective communication skills.

Skills For Managing Triggers

  • Recognize Triggers In Time
  • Identify which factor provokes taking drugs or drinking alcohol.
  • Evade
  • Whenever appropriate or possible to remove yourself from situations, which can trigger the cravings.
  • Confront
  • This involves dealing with the thoughts and feelings that cause you to abuse the substance using methods learnt in CBT.

You don't have to be at the centres to try using the CBT techniques of overcoming addiction. Patients can do a lot of CBT exercises all by themselves - at a group meeting and at home.

SMART and other such like Addiction Support groups employ the CBT techniques to help their members remain sober.


Techniques Applied In Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

There are different practices that are used to overcome an addiction using CBT.

Some of these practices are:

  • Evaluation Of Thoughts
  • Recovering addicts are required to examine their automatic negative thoughts and to look for objective evidence either supporting or disproving the thoughts.
  • They are required to list the evidence in favour of or against the automatic thoughts and indulge in a comparison and a contrast to the thoughts.
  • The objective is to assist them to think in a balanced manner and critically evaluate their thoughts to feel constructive about themselves.

Example "my manager thinks I'm useless." I need to have a drink to feel better" turns into "It's ok to make mistakes, and I will learn from them. If I learn from my mistakes and heed my manager's advice, she will appreciate it. This will lead them to realize that they don't need alcohol to feel better.

  • Behavioural Experiments
  • Here the exercises involve comparing negative thoughts and positive thoughts to see which influence good behaviour more.
  • One person may react better when they self-criticize while another will do great when they self-motivated.
  • Behavioural experiments help individuals figure out whether they are self-motivators or self-critics.

Example "I'm likely to binge drink less if I am hard on myself during and after the binge drinking" vs. "I'll probably have fewer drinks if I am talking to myself kindly after the session of binge drinking."

  • Imagery Based Exposure Technique
  • This involves bringing up memories that cause highly negative feelings.
  • They capture their every emotion, sight, sound, impulse and thought they felt at that moment.
  • Frequently by visiting the painful memories a recovering addict can reduce the anxiety caused by the memories over a period of time.

Example: A person revisits a traumatic event from their childhood. He presently recalls every detail and emotion of the particular moment. The consistent exposure to his past begins to cause him less pain and reduces the requirement to self-medicate with the use of alcohol or drugs.

  • Pleasant Activity Program
  • This is a method used to reduce the monotony of routines by planning activities that are enjoyable and healthy at certain times.
  • All the activities on the list should be easy to do, simple, and trigger positive emotions.
  • Planning the positive activities contributes to the reduction of negative feelings being generated and a resultant urge to indulge in drinking or drug use.

Example: A financial advisor who works a lot, finds fifteen minutes every day to relax at his desk instead of drinking alcohol or using drugs at work. Instead, the break is used to listen to a recently released song from a new music sensation.


How Cognitive-Behavioural Therapies Differ From Other Psychotherapies

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy provides a perfect alternative to less effective and engaging treatment techniques.

The CBT sessions aren't simply about the therapist quietly listening while the patient goes on and on about their lives. Instead of this, therapists and addicts carry out joint activities aimed at overcoming the addiction.

Focused and quick treatment that is based on actions is what Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is all about. Lots of mid length rehabilitation programs that last from 60 to 90 days include CBT techniques to give patients more opportunities to cop? with their problems.

Other psychotherapy approaches could take up to a number of years to produce results. Just sixteen sessions of CBT is often enough to obtain considerable improvement.

Due to it's highly adaptable nature, CBT is used in both private and group counselling and it is also used in residential and non-residential rehab programs. A lot of rehabilitation facilities and addiction therapists use CBT as a part of their treatment programs.