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Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for substance abuse


Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for substance use has revolutionized the way specialists treat drug-related addictions. It has not only shown efficacy as a single type of treatment but also as a part of a combination of several therapies. This article will provide a review of of what cognitive behavioral therapy is.

The Definition of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy is a form of psychological inpatient and outpatient treatment that seeks to improve the symptoms of various mental health conditions and issues such as substance addiction, trauma, anxiety and psychosis. The therapy works based on the fact that feelings, thoughts and behaviors directly influence each other. For instance, thoughts impact feelings and behavior, and feelings impact thoughts and behavior.

The main goal of cognitive behavioral treatment therapy is to increase a patient’s awareness of feelings, thoughts and actions and help him understand the consequences of each. Through CBT, the patient can gain a deeper understanding of his motivations and the role of substance abuse in his life. The patient can then recognize specific situations in which he is more likely to engage in addictive behaviors, helping him to avoid relapse in the process.

Components of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy treatment has two main components. They are functional analysis and skills training. Functional analysis is where both the patient and therapist work in collaboration with each other to identify thoughts, circumstances and feelings that the patient encounter before and after using illicit substances. This helps the patient avoid alcohol abuse and other risky habits that may potentially lead to relapse. Functional analysis is especially important during rehab. This is because it helps identify potential triggers and allows the patient to avoid risky situations. It also provides helpful insights as to why people turn to alcohol and drugs in the first place.

Skills training focuses on treatments that help the patient to unlearn old and potentially destructive habits and replace them with new and healthier ones. It also focuses on topics that help the patient learn effective strategies to deal with challenges that might might come up during their adult life.

Characteristics of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy has the following characteristics;

  • It works on the fact that a person’s thoughts depend on his actions and behaviors, not external influences. This is advantageous since it allows a person to change the way he perceives certain stimuli and consequently adjust his behaviors to react in a positive way.
  • Cognitive behavioral treatment is on a short-term basis. This is because it focuses on a specific point where the therapy is going to end. Most programs take an average of 16 sessions, with the patient making improvements within a short period of time.
  • The treatment follows a well-defined procedure and standard system. Every session has a specific program where the patient learns about what he should do to achieve his goals.
  • It is educational since it applies homework to complement individual sessions. The techniques and concepts taught through the hands-on experience garnered in home-based assignments enable the patient to get rid of frequent negative reactions and develop new and productive behaviors.
  • It is a collaboration between the patient and the therapist. The therapist seeks to understand what challenges the patient faces as a result of substance abuse and what he hopes to achieve in life. The patient, on the other hand, helps the therapist better understand his problems and thoughts through an open communication channel.

Efficacy of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

There are a lot of stories and personal accounts that support the efficacy of cognitive behavioral therapy for alcohol abuse and use of other illicit substances. Unlike some treatment methods, cognitive behavioral therapy has a strong empirical support. It has been found to be very effective for a wide range of drug abuse disorders. These include traumatic stress disorder, social anxiety, panic disorder, phobia, dysthymia and marital stress.

What to Expect from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy involves learning new skills that can be used now and in the future to change one’s behavior, reduce stress and improve overall well-being. The treatment takes different approaches, depending on the setting and the therapist. The therapist functions as a teacher to provide education relative to the patient’s symptoms, diagnosis and treatment. He also functions as a partner to the patient, assisting him on planned interventions to achieve his goals.

A typical therapy session takes 45 to 60 minutes and features discussions on previous negative behaviors, irrational thoughts and stress. From there, the therapists will challenge the patient regarding the negative thoughts and suggest coping mechanisms. These may include relaxation, assertiveness training, self-monitoring and cognitive restructuring.

In summary, cognitive behavioral therapy is a treatment process that helps a patient identify causes of addictive behavior and replace them with desirable ones. Many people have gained peace of mind, happiness and longevity as a result of cognitive behavioral therapy.

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The Opioid Epidemic: The Facts

There has been a significant rise in overdose deaths due to opioids in the United States. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), more than six out of 10 overdose deaths are due to opioids. Furthermore, the number of overdoses due to opioids has quadrupled since 1999. Currently, it is estimated that 91 individuals in the United States die everyday due to opioid abuse. The number of Americans who use prescription opiates has quadrupled from 1999 to 2010, but there has not been a reported change in pain reported by Americans. Continue reading What Is The Opioid Epidemic?

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Signs of Addiction

Addiction in the United States and across the world is skyrocketing. With the help of treatment facilities, non-profit organizations, and 12 step meetings, there is hope in a dark world of addiction. If your spouse, child, or friends are starting to show these signs, there may be an addiction present. Make sure to always be gentle when confronting the addict about their behavior, as they are already living in a painful world. Here are the symptoms of drug abuse to look out for. Continue reading Signs You Should You Look For In An Addict

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The road to recovery from addiction is long and arduous but ultimately worth the effort. Some people might only have to go through a recovery program once or might even manage to kick their addictions on their own. For others, the battle might need to be fought multiple times. In fact, about 40-60% of those who treat their substance abuse experience at least one relapse. This is why it is important for those in the support network of an individual who is in recovery to be aware of warning signs of drug use and alcoholism and relapse triggers.

Continue reading Relapse Warning Signs And Triggers

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Marijuana - The Freaky Facts and Revolting Truths

The Freaky Facts and Revolting Truths About Marijuana

Marijuana is the slang term for the cannabis plant. Easily identifiable by its thin, jagged leaves, it is perhaps the oldest known naturally psychoactive substance used by humans to get high. Cannabis is also known on the street as Mary Jane, weed, pot, ganja, and dozens if not hundreds of other monikers. Unfortunately for those who like to partake of this “holy” weed, for decades the plant has been high on the radar of federal and state governments who see it as a gateway drug to substance abuse and more serious drug addiction.

What Is It?

The secret sauce in this plant is the mind-altering chemical THC. One 2015 study estimated cannabis use among the 18-25 age group at 11 million in the United States, this despite the fact that use among middle and high school students seems to be leveling off or declining. The bottom line is that a strong demographic has always considered the dangerous effects of marijuana to be minor and the chances of becoming a drug user remote. It seems the tide may be turning when it comes to the public perception as well, with a host of states passing more lenient laws about cannabis, especially in regard to medicinal use.

How Do People Use It?

Traditionally a “joint” of marijuana is created by rolling the dried leaves, stems, or buds in cigarette paper and smoking it, though water bongs and pipes are other methods of imbibing the stuff for that high that can eventually lead to a variety of addictive disorders. If they don’t like inhaling smoke, some users turn to a vaporizer that extracts the THC into a storage unit where the vapor can be inhaled.

Other creative methods include baking it into brownies, brewing it as a tea, or, more recently, extracting a THC-powered thick resin through the use of a butane lighter fluid. The downside to this last method is that, in the hands of an amateur, it is easy to land in the emergency room with an overdose due to the high amount of THC that can be accidentally ingested. Additionally, more than one potential weed user has inadvertently blown up his or her home-based extraction setup, resulting in serious burns and – yes – a trip to the emergency room or worse.

Effects On the Brain

The effects on the brain from drugs like cannabis are simple science. Smoking cannabis is the quickest way to get it into the lungs and out into the bloodstream, where it quickly makes its way to the brain and other organs. Smoking weed will get you a noticeable high within a few minutes. Drinking or eating the THC slows down its absorption into the body. Via these methods, you probably won’t feel the buzz for at least 30 minutes.

How does THC make you feel high? It finds its way to specific brain receptors and overactivates them, creating a variety of sensations that can include mood changes, weird colors, an altered sense of time, hallucinations, memory problems, impaired movements, delusions, and psychosis. These last two are less common but if you take enough of the stuff…watch out.

Long-Term Effects

Long-term use of cannabis can be one of the primary causes of drug addiction, not only to weed but to other drugs like cocaine, heroin, or opioids. In many ways, an addiction to THC is similar to alcohol addiction symptoms, especially in the desperation it creates to have the stuff every day, sometimes multiple times. When it comes to symptoms of drug abuse, ANY drug, the bottom line is that it doesn’t think hesitate to ruin a life.

How long does marijuana stay in your system? The time period varies, but an infrequent weed user can expect all traces of the drug to clear his or her system in about three days. The THC level in chronic users can last for weeks, which could mean trouble if there is a surprise drug test at work.

The bottom line is that study after study has shown that using marijuana regularly has a negative effect on brain development. It impairs thinking, memory, and learning. A New Zealand study conducted by Duke University researchers showed as much as an 8 IQ point decline in heavy users between the ages of 13-38. When you take into account that recent decades have seen the potency of THC increase substantially (thanks to lab grown varieties), you have to ask yourself one question. Is being high worth being stupid? This is no substance addiction to play around with.

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Chronic Pain and Addiction


When an individual has suffered an injury that eventually heals but leaves a high amount of pain for a long time, the situation may be described as chronic pain. This pain is felt frequently thus requiring one to seek medical attention for diagnosis and treatment. The health providers may define the pain based on its characteristics, causes, and physiological and somatic mechanism. The pain is further classified as either psychogenic, nociceptive, or neuropathic. Continue reading Chronic Pain and Addiction

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My Spouse is an Alcoholic

Living with an addict can be a challenge, and being married to an addict can be even harder. If your spouse is an alcoholic, you could feel as if your future together is bleak. You could spend a lot of your time worrying about your spouse and about your future together. You might also be dealing with some intense emotions yourself due to being in this position.

Continue reading Being Married to an Alcoholic

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What is Drug Addiction?

Some sources will define addiction as a chronic brain disease that is subject to relapse and characterized by compulsive drug use and drug seeking behaviors. These actions occur no matter what the consequences may be for the user. Chronic addiction is considered to be a brain disorder because the substance use causes permanent or long-lasting changes in the brain’s structure and how it functions. Continue reading Addictive Behaviors And Substance Use

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Drug Addiction Facts

Did you know that 23.5 million people who are 12 years or older require treatment for addictive disorders due to drug addiction and alcoholism? Put another way, this represents 9.3 percent of the American population. Of those who were treated only 2.6 million (11.2 percent) did so at a treatment facility. Drug addiction is a societal problem and finding ways to deal with it has now become an imperative. Continue reading Understanding Drug Addiction in 2017

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The Twelve Step Recovery Program used by Alcoholics Anonymous, otherwise referred to as AA, is a free treatment program meant to help those suffering from alcohol abuse and addiction. The program uses a spiritual approach in which the members of AA can define a higher power in their own way. And many members use the support of a sponsor while going through the program. Here are the 12 Steps to Recovery. Continue reading Alcoholics Anonymous: Twelve Steps to Recovery

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