Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) for addiction

In this article a patient describes their own experience with how CBT helped them to start recovering from addiction.

Many people struggle with different forms of addiction. Alcohol, behaviours, substance, gambling and plastic surgery are often the more obvious examples. Unfortunately, diagnosing and treating addictive illnesses can be highly challenging. The addict first needs to acknowledge that there is a problem, then have the courage to seek help followed by on-going maintenance to avoid a relapse. There is no 'one-size-fits-all' type of treatment for addiction, everyone is different. If one form of treatment doesn’t work for you, you may want to consider others. One treatment option that has shown promising results is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). So, let’s look at some of the benefits of CBT for treating addiction.

What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?

Before learning about the benefits of CBT for addiction, it is important to understand the concept. CBT is a hands-on psychological treatment where the patient and the therapist work together to achieve healing. Specifically, through CBT, you identify the negative thought patterns that facilitate your unhealthy behavior. Once you identify the patterns, you focus on changing them.

Furthermore, with the help of your therapist, you can learn new healthy behaviors that can replace unhealthy ones. Of course, those negative patterns can result in many other conditions apart from addiction. That is why CBT isn’t used only for treating addictions but for other mental disorders. These include anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and eating disorders.

What are the benefits of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for addiction?

Now that you understand the concept let’s look at some benefits.

No. 1 CBT helps develop positive thought patterns

One of the most significant benefits of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for addiction is that it helps you develop positive thought patterns.
One of the most significant benefits of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for addiction is that it helps you develop positive thought patterns.

Life is hard. There’s no denying it. The problem is that all those personal, professional, and financial problems we often encounter create negative thought patterns. And if you’re not careful and don’t know how to properly manage them, they can easily result in unhealthy behaviors. For instance, many people start using substances to escape their troubles.

But what’s even worse is that addiction subsequently creates even more negative thought patterns. Thus, addicts feel overwhelmed and can no longer cope with everyday situations. But Cognitive Behavioral Therapy teaches you how to turn negative thinking into positive ones. Once you no longer expect only bad outcomes, you’ll be more inclined to try solving your troubles rather than avoid them by engaging in unhealthy behaviors.

One of the most significant benefits of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for addiction is that it helps you develop positive thought patterns.

No. 2 CBT improves your self-esteem

Happy thoughts
CBT helps you improve your self-esteem and makes you want to make positive changes.

Addiction is often brought on by low self-esteem. But it also causes low self-esteem. Specifically, addicts usually feel like they are not worth saving. Thus, instead of trying to find the best rehab, they engage in even more unhealthy behaviors.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy helps patients focus on finding solutions to their problems. Once you start solving some of your troubles, you gradually become more confident. As a result, your self-esteem starts to improve. That will then drive you to make positive changes in your life. All of this is crucial for recovery.

No. 3 CBT helps you develop healthy coping strategies

We often turn to unhealthy behaviors because we don’t know how to cope with our problems. That is also why so many recovering addicts relapse. You can easily relapse if you don’t know how to deal with difficult situations or addiction triggers. CBT can help you develop healthy coping strategies.

For example, you can learn to communicate better by describing what you’re going through instead of keeping it all to yourself. Or you can learn to resist peer pressure and say "no" to unhealthy behaviours. That is very important because peer pressure is a major addiction trigger.

No. 4 CBT provides a good support system

In general, your family and friends are your support system. But addiction often puts a strain on those relationships. Furthermore, no matter how hard they try, your loved ones don’t always understand what you’re going through or know how to help. However, your CBT therapist is always there for you and has the proper knowledge and skills to guide you. Of course, this doesn’t mean you should no longer rely on your loved one. The bigger the support system, the better your chances of avoiding a relapse.

No. 5 CBT teaches you how to manage your emotions

Thoughts, emotions, and behaviors are interconnected. Therefore, it’s not just negative thinking that facilitates addiction but also negative emotions. That’s why you must learn how to deal with those emotions healthily. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy helps you identify the underlying causes of your negative emotions and teaches you how to control your responses.

No. 6 CBT can be cost-efficient

You can opt for an outpatient Cognitive Behavior Therapy program which is less expensive.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy can be provided both in an inpatient and an outpatient setting. In general, all inpatient addiction treatment programs are more costly. Unfortunately, these costs are rarely covered by insurance, so people can’t afford them. But with CBT, you can opt for a more affordable outpatient program. Nevertheless, addiction recovery experts from advise you to choose between inpatient and outpatient rehab based on the severity and type of addiction.

No. 7 CBT enables you to maintain your normal routine

If you opt for an outpatient CBT program, you’ll be able to maintain your normal routine. You can still go to work and spend time with your family. Of course, this also depends on the severity of your addiction. But since recovery is a long process, you might be unable to afford to take such a long leave from work. Plus, separating from your family might do you more harm than good.

In conclusion

Addiction is a severe illness that harms the addict and the people close to them. So, if you or a loved one are struggling with addiction, you should seek help as soon as possible. Addiction recovery experts can provide the support and tools you need to fight your addiction. You just need to find the treatment option that works best for you. As you’ve seen, cognitive behavioral therapy has many benefits for addiction, so it’s worth giving it a try. But if it doesn’t work in your case, don’t give up. Just try a different type of treatment.

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