Using Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy in Addiction Treatment

April 13, 2023

Written By: Buena Vista Recovery

Choosing to seek help for your addiction is one of the first steps in treating your addiction and beginning recovery. There are many factors that play into addiction, like biological factors and environmental factors. So it can be difficult to treat addiction because of these individual factors. It can also be very difficult to treat someone who doesn’t want help or isn’t ready for treatment. That is where cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) comes in. Many drug and alcohol treatment centers incorporate CBT into their treatment plans. 

What Is Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy?

Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a type of psychotherapy that focuses on the relationships between thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. CBT is commonly used in many talk therapy settings. It can be used to help people with depression, anxiety, panic disorders, addiction treatment, and eating disorders. 

CBT can be used to help people deal with all different types of addictions. It can be used to help with addictions like alcohol abuse, drug abuse, gambling, and eating disorders. Many therapists that help treat people with addiction problems incorporate CBT into their treatment plans. This is because CBT has been shown to be incredibly effective in helping people change their behaviors related to substance abuse. 

Why Does CBT Work in Drug and Alcohol Treatment?

The main purpose of CBT is to help you understand how your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors influence and interact with each other. However, it is not a one-size-fits-all approach. It is more about an individualized way of thinking about how everything fits together when it comes to your addiction. CBT can also be used to identify and manage mental health problems that may lead to addiction. 

Here is an example of a thought process that can be identified through CBT:

I am feeling depressed because my partner broke up with me last week. My feelings of depression then lead me to drink more and more. Escape the pain and sadness that I am feeling. Numb me with the use of a substance. Now I know why I have started drinking. I can work on changing some aspects of my life to change my behavior. Let’s engage with other healthy relationships to feel connected or even find a new hobby. Perhaps I can also look at what is stressing me out about my partner breaking up with me. I can try to reduce those stressors by incorporating other things in my life like yoga or meditation. Maybe I also reach out to friends or family to keep me company while I work through these stressors and feelings of sadness and depression. 

How Does CBT Work in Drug and Alcohol Treatment?

CBT is all about helping people identify and change negative thought patterns that result in unwanted or destructive behaviors. It is used regularly in drug and alcohol treatment programs. This is most commonly done in a talk therapy-type session. It is important to come to your sessions ready to look inside yourself about what you are feeling. Why might you be feeling that way? And what can you do about it? 

Here are some questions a therapist might ask during a CBT session.

Thought Questions

Some thought questions include:

  • What do you think about?
  • What did you think when this happened?”

These types of questions can be frustrating for the client. But they are important because they can help identify irrational thinking patterns and learn more rational ways of thinking. 

Feelings Questions

Some feelings questions include:

  • How did that make you feel? 
  • Why do you think that made you feel like that?

Feeling identification is something that many people struggle with. Sometimes, we don’t know why we feel the way we feel. This line of questioning can help clients discover feelings they may not have been able to recognize or talk about confusing feelings that they are having. 

Scale or Degree Questions

Some scale or degree questions include:

  • How is your depression today, on a scale of 1 to 10?
  • How was your anxiety on the way here this morning: mild, moderate, or severe? 

These types of questions can help you and your therapist identify if certain situations cause your feelings and actions to get better, worse, or stay the same. This can also help you and your therapist to identify if the course of treatment you guys are taking is helping or not. 

Changing Questions

One changing question includes:

  • “How can you change what you think about the situation that will help you feel better?”

This type of question can help clients to change their perspective about certain situations, and it can also help them improve their mood. 

This is not an easy process by any means. And it is also not something that will happen overnight. This is a process, so it is important to be patient with yourself as you go through these types of sessions. It is going to take time to overcome these thought patterns and create new healthy thought connections in your brain. 

CBT for Drug and Alcohol Treatment at Buena Vista

As part of your individualized treatment plan, at Buena Vista, we have therapists that incorporate CBT into their treatment plans. This is a highly effective treatment protocol for those struggling with addiction and substance abuse. There are so many benefits to this type of therapy. We truly believe that it can help people change their negative thinking patterns and actions. The brain is an amazing organ that can change and make new connections. It will just take time, and we want to be there to help you through it. 

Cognitive-behavioral therapy sounds intimidating. The idea of delving into your mind and digging deep into your emotions and thought patterns can be terrifying. But this type of therapy can be life-changing if you put in the work and do what your therapist is asking of you. It is hard work, yet so incredibly rewarding. Many people have come through our facility and put in the time and effort to incorporate what they have learned in their CBT sessions into their daily lives; now are living full and healthy lives sober. Recovery is possible, and we can help you. For more information about the services we offer at Buena Vista Recovery, call (480) 741-9414 today.