• How Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Can Promote Addiction Recovery

    How Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Can Promote Addiction Recovery

    Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a type of therapy that focuses on general cognitive processes along with emotions that are deemed dysfunctional and behaviors that are thought to be maladaptive. CBT tackles both the cognitive processing and behaviors of patients in order to help them achieve their desired outcome. It’s a problem-solving approach to psychotherapy and therapists who practice it encourage their patients to take immediate action in their lives. As patients take these actions, it often helps them stabilize or improve their cognitive processes or behaviors one step at a time. When the patient is successful in applying this therapy and the encouraged actions to everyday life, the patient often feels propelled into delving further into their therapy.

    One of the reasons why CBT is so popular as a form of drug addiction therapy is because it has a track record of working as a successful treatment for addiction. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, results from studies lead researchers to believe that the skills that are acquired and used during CBT usually last beyond treatment and throughout the rest of a patient’s life, in many cases. One of the primary goals of CBT is to help patients to recognize, address and potentially change their maladaptive cognitive processes and behaviors. The idea is that if a patient can understand when he or she is thinking or behaving in an unreasonably in a way they can control or alter, they will take the opportunity to make these changes when it is presented in the interest of self-improvement.

    Some of the reasons why this type of treatment is particularly useful in the case of substance and alcohol addiction include the following:


    CBT can achieve results in a relatively short amount of time. This is good for treatment centers, whose aim is to achieve results sooner than later in the most efficient way possible. This is also a positive quality for the patients themselves as quick success in treatment helps to boost morale and keep the patient on the path toward long-term sobriety.


    CBT has been studied rigorously over and over again. Scientific evidence supports its use as a therapy for substance and alcohol addiction and touts the long-term benefits of this type of treatment.


    CBT aims to achieve specific goals over time and it is structured in a way to facilitate that type of achievement. This kind of structure can be inspiring for the patient and it also helps the patient to find calm in the chaotic world of addiction.


    CBT is well known as a flexible approach to psychotherapy. Although this type of treatment does work with a structure and does prioritize real-life applications of what is learned during the therapy, CBT also allows room for each individual patient to create his or her own timeline for certain milestones associated with recovery. This type of treatment also leaves room for a patient to address what he or she needs to address most while still adhering to an overarching addiction treatment plan.


    CBT is therapy that is largely compatible with other types of treatment. This is especially important for a person who is attempting to overcome substance or alcohol addiction because other types of simultaneous treatments may be necessary in order for the patient to achieve success. For instance, a patient might engage in CBT while also engaging in a medication-aided physical detox from a substance.


    One of the best features of CBT is that it enables patients to feel as though they have the power to control their own behaviors and even their own cognitive processes. Once a patient realizes the power they can have over these important things – things that impact every area of a person’s life – they reap the benefits from the resulting self-esteem boost and are able to take that feeling of empowerment and apply it to other areas of their life.


    Elizabeth Seward has written about health and wellness for Discovery Health, National Geographic, How Stuff Works Health, and many other online and print publications. As a former touring rock musician, Elizabeth has firsthand experience with the struggles of substance abuse and the loss of loved ones because of it. She believes in the restorative power of yoga, meditation, talk therapy, and plant-based diets and she is an advocate for progressive drug policy reform.

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