What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?

Cognitive behavioral therapy or CBT is a common technique used during addiction recovery. The premise of CBT is to identify and alter problematic behaviors that lead to substance abuse, by recognizing the thought processes that lead to those behaviors. CBT is primarily used in addiction recovery to help patients avoid a relapse by detecting potential triggers and learning healthy ways to avoid or deal with them.

Components of CBT

There are two basic components of CBT:

Functional Analysis

During this portion of CBT, the patient and therapist work together to identify thoughts and feelings that typically occur prior to the patient making the choice to use. During this step, the patient learns to recognize potential triggers for using with the intent of preventing a relapse.

Skills Training

During this segment of CBT, patients move from recognizing problematic thoughts and feelings to learning new, healthy habits to deal with them. Many techniques may go into this part of treatment, from role-playing situations to creating a list of coping activities that do not involve drinking or using.

Benefits of CBT

There are a number of potential benefits patients might gain from incorporating CBT into their addiction treatment:

  • Short-term treatment can be gradually tapered off and stopped when goals of therapy are met
  • Helps patients develop positive thought patterns that will assist them in many aspects of life
  • Enhances the patient’s self-esteem, which in turn can make it easier to resist peer pressure
  • Treatment can be tailored to the unique needs of each patient
  • It can be used in both personal and group settings and for both inpatient and outpatient treatment
  • Each session has a specific agenda and structure to ensure goals are met and treatment moves forward

The Anatomy of a Treatment Session

A CBT treatment session typically opens with a discussion about the patient’s cravings and high-risk situations since the previous session. Next the therapist will discuss a specific topic with the patient for that particular session, such as refusing an offer for the substance. Skills will vary, based on the specific addiction to be addressed and the unique needs of the patient. The end of the session is usually spent determining a homework project to complete before the next session that will allow the patient to put the new skill into practice.

CBT is an effective mode of treatment that is used at West Coast Recovery Centers when appropriate. Because each patient is different, our treatment programs are highly personalized and may combine a variety of treatment modalities to ensure the best odds of a successful recovery. To learn more about CBT or other addiction treatment modalities, contact West Coast Recovery Centers at 442-333-6199.

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