Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for substance abuse 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, 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. It identifies 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.