Finding sobriety and maintaining it so that you can have a successful and long-lasting recovery can at many times be a difficult journey. Every person contending with an addiction is unique, each carries with them their own diverse set of experiences, emotions, perceptions and expectations—all things that shape both their addiction and their recovery journey in a way that is specific to them.
For these reasons, treatment also needs to be diverse—it needs to encompass an array of methods and practices that can apply to people in every walk of life, in every way that they might need, so they have the best chance towards a successful recovery. Therapy is one of the foundational elements of a good treatment program. It is something that helps to lend balance, strength and perspective to your life, while bridging the gap between the past, present and future. Therapy teaches you the skills that you need to overcome the stress, triggers, cravings and negative emotions that might threaten your sobriety.
What Is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), “Psychotherapy, also known as ‘talk therapy,’ is when a person speaks with a trained therapist in a safe and confidential environment to explore and understand feelings and behaviors and gain coping skills.” Psychotherapy contains different forms of therapy, including cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which has continuously shown great impact and lasting success within the field of addiction treatment.
CBT is based on the premise that a person’s problems and difficulties stem from their struggles with the cognitive and behavioral aspects of their life. The National Institute on Drug Abuse cites that “Cognitive-behavioral strategies are based on the theory that in the development of maladaptive behavioral patterns like substance abuse, learning processes play a critical role.” Because of the interplay between a person’s thoughts and actions and reactions, a person’s life and mental and emotional health can become imbalanced to the extent that their feelings and behaviors might be impacted, things that could lead to, or further propagate substance abuse and addiction.
Why Does CBT Work?
This gives a person power over their life, even if certain external situations do not change, by changing the way you think and react to them, you can ultimately alter the way you feel and behave. A person can learn to change their behavior by learning and understanding why they behave a certain way. This can be especially useful in helping a person to learn how to deal with the triggers and cravings that might incite the desire to use drugs or alcohol.
An addiction can distort the way a person thinks. Sometimes a person might begin to believe things that are not rational, or simply so steeped in emotions that they are partially or completely unfounded. CBT can be very helpful in revealing these things. Not only can it display these potentially crippling mindsets, but it can help you to develop rational and introspective thought patterns to replace these harmful ones. CBT is very instructive—it can help you to learn from you life experiences instead of becoming controlled by them.
According to Mayo Clinic, CBT “generally requires fewer sessions than other types of therapy” which can be of great import during rehabilitation. This structured treatment can help someone to gain momentum and experience results in a shorter period of time, which can help boost their morale, confidence and coping skills—things that can carry a person through the tumultuous times of their early recovery and beyond. Research shows that CBT’s effects are long-lasting, because a person essentially learns how to self-counsel instead of turning to the previously harmful methods of self-medicating.
How Does CBT Work?
Drug or alcohol abuse and addiction is often fuel by a wide variety of negative and paralyzing emotions and states of mind—fear, hatred, loneliness, despair, self-loathing, self-blame, low self-confidence and a sense of isolation, among others. The sad thing is, a person’s addiction is defeating and destructive; despite the fact that they might be trying to alleviate these things on their own, these futile attempts at self-medication are actually harming them and further perpetuating and amplifying the very problems that plagued them in the first place.
The good news is that CBT can be phenomenally successful for many who are faced with the staggering effects of these emotions combined with a drug or alcohol addiction. While you work with your therapist, you will set goals and learn how to change your thinking so that you can begin to implement constructive thought patterns and behaviors in place of those that have damaged and brought you down. Paired with the other forms of treatment that we offer, it will foster and deliver a well-rounded treatment plan that will help you to find renewal and a greater sense of clarity and confidence as you walk further within your recovery.
There are generally few risks associated with CBT, however, this is not to say that it will not in some cases be hard. CBT can at times be very emotionally rigorous and even physically draining. Within your therapy sessions, you might encounter certain things that might make you uncomfortable or you might encounter a strong emotional response—certain memories or realizations might elicit anger or even cause you to cry. Though your first impulse might be to push these things inside you and ignore them, it is important to remember that if you leave these things unrecognized and unchecked, they might continue to fester and sabotage any positive growth that you’ve obtained.
Our main focus during your sessions will be to pinpoint any negative thought patterns that might have become ingrained within the way you think. Sometimes you might not even realize this, which is why your therapist is trained in a variety of ways to help you examine your life and the thoughts and behaviors that can illuminate this. CBT relies on the principle that many of these damaging and negative patterns and responses are learned, thus it also relies on the notion that you can essentially unlearn them and replace them with healthier ones that can become foundational to your success.
While you’re engaged in CBT, you might have homework between your sessions. Therapy takes work, and this provides you with an opportunity to let what you’ve learned resonate deeper—one way of doing this might be by keeping a journal to chronicle the changes that you encounter within your thoughts, perspectives and behaviors.
Being able to look back and see how far you’ve come and how much stronger you are can be a great tool to help you maintain positivity, focus and determination at any step within your recovery. Additionally, a journal will help you to keep track of your thoughts, behaviors and perspectives, so that you can track any unhealthy trends or patterns that may be present or arise in the future.
Research illustrates that CBT is also widely successful at treating numerous co-occurring disorders that often precede, exacerbate or result from an addiction, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), bipolar disorder, depression and anxiety, among others. When one contends with these things in addition to their addiction, it is crucial to remember that they too must be treated. Contrary to what some people may mistakenly think, waiting to treat these conditions until after recovery is achieved is highly counterproductive and can lessen a person’s chances of being able to obtain that sobriety and lasting recovery.
As just mentioned, these things often precipitate drug and/or alcohol use and abuse. As a person struggles with the myriad of difficulties that these conditions exert on their life, they may often turn to the aforementioned substances as a way of dealing with their problems. This is called self-medicating. As this behavior continues, a vicious cycle is formed—one that spurns them closer to addiction and farther away from balance, wellness and good health.
Our treatment utilizes CBT to treat both addiction and co-occurring conditions.
Take Control Over Your Recovery
Your therapist will be a catalyst towards your change; they will create a session that feels safe, compassionate and personal. Though they will listen to you and teach you, it is important to remember that the real power rests in your hands. In order to achieve the fullest measure of success, you need to be honest with yourself and embrace mindfulness. CBT does not simply tell a person within treatment what to do, rather it teaches them how to go about obtaining the change for themselves in order to glean results that are deep-reaching and long-lasting.
During the course of CBT, your therapists will help you to recognize any unhealthy attitudes, situations, people or environments to which you might be subjecting yourself. Some of these might be things that trigger a drug or alcohol craving. Your therapist may also help you in anticipating circumstances that could arise in the future that might cause stress, temptation or relapse. They will help you to garner strength, courage and self-knowledge so that you can set and maintain boundaries to protect yourself from these things both now and in the future, while creating an environment that can help to protect you against the threat of relapse.
Your addiction may have brought you down so low that you weren’t sure which way was up. Perhaps you’ve begun to forget who you are. CBT can help you to find optimism again, while reestablishing an important and vital sense of self. It can help you to become familiar with who you are so that you can engage in adaptive self-care and begin to feel more positive about yourself and what you need.
Build A Strong Foundation For A Better Tomorrow
Our therapists offer expert and compassionate care to help you weather the storm. We can help you to better learn how to process your negative and overwhelming thoughts before they get to the point where they become debilitating and impede your chances of sobriety and success. You will do this while learning how to integrate healthy coping skills that will enable you to replace these negative and damaging emotions with healthier and positive ones.
Our trained staff can help you to become proactive instead of reactive. These skills are essential not just during treatment, but after and throughout the entirety of your recovery. Remember, recovery is a lifelong journey—CBT can help you embrace the strength and perspective that you need to safeguard and nourish your sobriety, while creating a life in which to thrive.