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CBT – The Very Basics

CBT – The Very Basics

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is one of the most popular and proven methods of mental health counseling

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is one of the most popular and proven methods of mental health counseling. With CBT, individuals work with psychotherapists or therapists in a structured way, attending a limited number of sessions. The goal of therapy is to become aware of inaccurate or negative thinking so that you can view challenges more clearly and respond to them in more effective ways.

How Does CBT Work?

CBT teaches that changing thoughts changes feelings, which can ultimately change behavior patterns. This premise makes it a strategic way to help struggling addicts, since most experts believe that substance abuse disorders result from negative learning processes that trigger destructive behaviors. To get sober, individuals must learn to identify and correct problem thinking and behavior—not turn to drugs and alcohol as faulty coping tools. Specifically, it trains people to think in recovery-strengthening ways that include the following:

  • Anticipate situations that might threaten sobriety
  • Enhance self-control
  • Consider positive and negative consequences of continued drug use
  • Self-monitor to recognize cravings early and take action to stop them
  • Self-soothe in positive ways during times of anger, grief or loneliness
  • Identify high-risk situations

CBT targets “automatic thoughts,” a term that refers to distorted thoughts that can become reflexive parts of an individual’s inner dialogue. Examples of typical “automatic thoughts” that perpetuate the addiction cycle include the following:

  • Using is fun and keeps life interesting
  • Using proves I am a bad person
  • Using helps me relax
  • Using makes me creative
  • Using helps me cope with pain
  • Using helps me perform sexually
  • Using gives me social acceptance
  • Using is not a problem

CBT therapists help individuals replace distorted, automatic thoughts with healthy beliefs. Several include the following:

  • Getting sober will improve my health
  • Lying about my addiction will only make life worse
  • Addiction will keep me from reaching my goals
  • Sobriety will improve my relationships
  • Building recovery will give me confidence
  • If I don’t use, I never have to face substance-abuse related legal trouble

Even after leaving treatment, many individuals continue to receive CBT. How long treatment takes depends on several factors, including the severity of the addiction, how quickly you are making progress in recovery, how much stress you are under, and how much support you receive from family and loved ones. Although you may have long-standing ways of thinking about your life and yourself, with continued practice, positive thinking and behavior patterns become habits that require less effort.

Recovery from Addiction and Trauma

If you or someone you love struggles with addiction, you are not alone. Admissions coordinators at our toll-free support line are available 24 hours a day to guide you to wellness. You never have to go back to a life of addiction. Please call. Start your recovery today.