Each person’s recovery journey will be wholly unique. Finding the most effective strategies and therapies for addressing substance use disorder (SUD) is paramount. Often, individuals will utilize a form of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) during their treatment journey to overcome the use of drugs or alcohol.
CBT is instrumental in understanding the interconnected nature of addiction and mental health and how thoughts and actions can continue to inform each other in sobriety. From addressing addiction and its effects to overcoming feelings of anxiety, depression, grief, and much more, CBT is commonly used to create the cornerstone of many effective recovery journeys.
What Is CBT?
CBT is a comprehensive and proven therapeutic approach to address a wide range of individual needs. It primarily focuses on how feelings of anxiety, depression, or other mental health disorders can be informed by unhelpful ways of thinking and how these thoughts can form an individual’s behavior and actions.
For many, this may involve exploring the connections between how learned mentalities and perspectives may lead to the use of drugs or alcohol. Others may focus on how their substance use may unknowingly bring unnecessary feelings of anxiety or depression.
Some of the main tenants of CBT include:
- Understanding and identifying unhelpful ways of thinking
- Identifying problematic, learned behaviors
- Exploring the connection between unhelpful or unhealthy perspectives and a person’s feelings and behaviors
Those engaging in effective CBT practices will also explore new ways of coping with intense feelings by embracing new strategies to change their way of responding to stresses with a higher degree of agency. By addressing and altering certain thoughts (cognitive), those in recovery can subsequently address self-destructive behaviors (behavioral), all while developing new perspectives and creating a healthier and positive sober lifestyle.
CBT in Practice
There are many ways professionals can help those in recovery set expectations for effective CBT practices. Understanding the overarching goals of CBT is crucial for preparing for effective engagement and commitment to its exercises in recovery.
Explores Connections Between Thoughts, Emotions, and Behaviors
First, CBT helps each person identify certain thoughts, thought patterns, beliefs, or learned perspectives that may be problematic or detrimental to other goals or lifestyles, and critically evaluate these thoughts to create new perspectives and beliefs. This allows an individual to explore not only their own motivations behind their behaviors and decisions but also better understand the motivations of others to create a comprehensive understanding of their own thought processes, behaviors, and the connection therein.
Strengths Healthy Coping Strategies
CBT also empowers those in recovery to face fears directly rather than avoiding these stresses or engaging in activities that may push away these stresses to create healthy coping strategies. Increasing self-confidence, gaining new perspectives, and learning effective grounding strategies in the face of stress are all crucial skills in CBT.
Not only can these new perspectives challenge feelings of anxiety, depression, and more, but they also help an individual explore how addictive substances like drugs and alcohol can factor into their life. Challenging the motivations behind a person’s use of addictive substances can also create a better understanding of the connection between addiction and other aspects of their lives, informing the strategies needed to create a sober future.
Individualized Uses of CBT
Recovery will always be a personal journey, and CBT can take a variety of forms to meet individualized needs in recovery and sobriety. Embracing a collection of effective approaches can ensure that each individual is making the most of effective CBT practices.
Practicing Mindfulness Strategies
Mindfulness is a powerful skill in recovery from mental health disorders and addiction. Regular mindfulness techniques, such as paying attention to breathing patterns, touching objects in the environment, listening to a person’s own heartbeat, taking a walk to feel the breeze, and much more, are all incredible ways to be more in tune with a person’s feelings and thoughts. The ability to be aware of the presence of anxiety, depression, urges, or cravings can empower those in recovery to enact effective coping strategies without turning to self-destructive practices.
Practicing role-playing with peers and professionals can provide new ideas and allow an individual to approach real-life stressful situations with a newfound perspective. By exploring various points of view, alternatives to ways of thinking, alternative behaviors, and acting out potential consequences of decisions, those in recovery can better understand the best way to approach difficult situations and how drugs or alcohol may otherwise inform such decisions, assumptions, and more.
Halting Absolutist Language
Identifying unhealthy ways of thinking is just the first step, and those in recovery can take action to address how these thoughts may manifest. Recognizing problematic or absolutist language, such as the words “definitely” or “impossible,” can prompt those in recovery to address how such assumptions may affect behaviors. By introducing more malleable language, such as “maybe” or “probably,” it is possible to avoid making unhealthy assumptions or acting on unhealthy thoughts without thinking about the other ways in which any given situation may play out.
Using journals and identifying when assumptions are made without context or evidence is a powerful recovery technique and can inform new ways to address any given situation. Repeating reshaped thoughts in the mirror or writing them down can all normalize new ways of thinking or phrasing otherwise destructive or challenging thoughts.
CBT is the “gold standard” of therapeutic practices. Our highly trained professionals available at Buena Vista are prepared to help you explore its benefits in the most educated and effective way. Our masters-level staff is available to guide you through effective CBT practices while creating a plethora of additional personalized strategies to ensure that your recovery journey is unique and personal to you. From detox and inpatient treatment to ongoing intensive outpatient care, we are prepared to help you address your unique needs and goals at every stage of the recovery process. For more information on how we can personalize your time with us on our comfortable, modern campus, call so speak to us today at (480) 741-9414 or complete your insurance verification form here.