Addiction treatment shouldn’t take a one-size-fits-all approach. As a result, there are several types of therapy that clients can participate in. Cognitive behavioral therapy is just one of those.
Professionals in the addiction treatment field certainly understand the different issues that each client has. Therefore, they choose the most appropriate forms of therapy in order to provide the best care because they know that this increases the likelihood of lasting recovery.
About Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, began as a treatment for depression. However, specialists saw how useful it could be to treat other conditions, such as anxiety and addiction. Consequently, you may take part in CBT at a dual diagnosis treatment center.
CBT takes the stance that a person’s thoughts and emotions affect their behavior. In other words, positive thoughts lead to positive behaviors and actions. In contrast, negative emotions result in negative behaviors.
Furthermore, this connection between emotions and actions goes both ways, so if you don’t like how you’re feeling, you can alter your emotions by altering how you think and act.
The Origin of the Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Program
To start, the origin of the cognitive behavioral therapy program to date goes back to the 1960s. Dr. Aaron T. Beck is the developer of this popular talk therapy. He sought to create it as a psychiatrist at the University of Pennsylvania. At the university, he practiced psychoanalysis.
For reference, psychoanalysis is the practice of combining theories and therapies on mental illness. They rake the conscious and subconscious parts of the mind to find the root of a mental disturbance. Then, a therapist will work through them with a patient to rid them of it. To surmise, Dr. Aaron T. Beck thought the psychoanalytical practices during his time were too one-dimensional.
In his time, these were the most popular forms of psychoanalysis:
- Freudian/classical psychoanalysis: Rooted in unconscious thoughts and desires
- Adlerian psychoanalysis: Focuses on goals and a connection with others
- Rankian psychoanalysis: Practicing will/counter-will to achieve independence
- Jungian psychoanalysis: Collective and personal consciousness combined with desire and archetypes
In particular, Dr. Beck noticed that his patients had an internal dialogue (self-talk). This mental conversation almost seemed like they were talking to themselves. Thus, he came up with the idea that thoughts impact feelings, especially the way that people think about themselves.
Continuing, he labeled these thoughts “automatic thoughts.” To put it another way, they are emotionally charged thoughts that have an irrational basis. He believed that there was a connection between the initial thought and how people felt about it. However, this connection was unknown to the patient.
Therefore, he sought to bring that unknown thought to a patient’s attention. That way, they could catch it before it turned into negative feelings. In doing so, they could rephrase it and practice a positive form of self-talk. The process takes work. To undo a lifetime of negative patterns and behaviors takes discipline.
How Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Works
CBT differs from psychotherapy in that it empowers clients by teaching them problem-solving techniques. They’re not stuck reliving the past. In cognitive behavioral therapy, a skilled therapist works with clients to help them change their behaviors by first changing their thoughts.
Many people who abuse drugs and alcohol do so because they have a hard time coping with negative emotions. Although everyone has a bad day at times, some people find it difficult to relieve stress. As a result, they turn to addictive substances, but the short-term fix that they believe drugs and alcohol provide can lead to long-term problems.
In a cognitive behavioral therapy program, these clients can finally learn effective coping strategies that lead to a more positive outlook. Due to this, they’ll be motivated to engage in positive behaviors whenever they feel sad, angry, or stressed.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Program in Addiction Treatment
In addiction treatment, a cognitive behavioral therapy program is incredibly useful. By applying the techniques they learn in CBT, clients can recognize negative thoughts as they occur. Consequently, they can focus on the present moment instead of replaying past events or being overwhelmed with anxiety over the future.
Furthermore, they can work to change those bad feelings into positive ones. At the very least, they’ll know that just because they’re not feeling good at the moment, they don’t have to act on those feelings in a negative way.
CBT has numerous benefits, including:
- Giving clients healthy ways to cope with their emotions
- Improving communication skills
- Providing some relief for certain mental health disorders
- Decreasing their likelihood of relapse
- Providing effective coping skills for stress and anxiety
Cognitive behavioral therapy is just one type of therapy in addiction treatment. There are others that professionals in rehab may find helpful for you.
How a Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Program Can Help a Dual Diagnosis
A dual diagnosis, or co-occurring disorders, is made when a person has multiple health disorders. A common co-occurring disorder is a mental illness and a substance use disorder. In fact, there is a 50% chance someone with a mental illness will develop a drug addiction or vice versa. Addicts may turn to drugs and alcohol to temporarily feel relief from mental illness. A drug dependency may result in a mental illness because of withdrawal symptoms and constant cravings.
More so, a cognitive behavioral therapy program is an effective treatment for both parts of the dual diagnosis. It’s a powerful tool for the mental aspect of addiction because of the activities one does as a part of the therapy. Patients usually have “homework” after a therapy session to help enforce these ideas. Homework can take different forms.
A cognitive behavioral therapy program will often ask a patient to keep a journal. They will write down the negative thoughts they encounter every day. They will also record their feelings before they decide to use or when they have a craving. In this way, both patient and therapist can find patterns in thinking. Once patterns are found, a patient can avoid these triggers in the future.
Actively Practice Self-Kindness
A therapist may ask a patient to reword any negative self-talk that goes through their mind. For example, a recovering addict might internally think that they need to shame themselves to stop using drugs and alcohol. The therapist’s homework would be to rephrase that automatic thought.
Instead, a recovering addict would remember that everyone has slip-ups, and being kind to oneself will aid recovery. It’s a behavioral experiment that instills the habit of self-kindness. Eventually, it will become an automatic response to a negative thought.
Physically Schedule Self-Care
Finally, a therapist may ask a patient to take the time to schedule a self-care activity every day. This means physically setting an alarm or writing a self-care activity into their schedule. Self-care is activities that promote both mental and physical health. This could be yoga, taking a leisurely walk in nature, spending time with family, or drawing. As long as the activity doesn’t deprecate health, it can aid both an addiction and a person’s mental health.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Program Versus Medication For a Dual Diagnosis
Both medication and a cognitive behavioral therapy program have their pros and cons. While both are effective in their own right, one may work better than the other. For instance, a recovering addict who suffers from schizophrenia won’t be able to function without medication. Any cognitive behavioral therapy program can’t cure their illness completely, although it may mitigate some of the symptoms.
Medication is easy to take. Yet, this can be the downfall in success for lasting recovery. Medication doesn’t enforce habits in the same way that CBT does. On the other hand, a medical professional can adjust the dosage to fit a patient’s needs to a tee. With this, different brands of medication exist. So, even if one doesn’t work out, another one is bound to. That said, it has its downfalls.
These are side effects of popular anxiety and depression medications:
- Decreased sexual desire and sensation
- Weight gain
- Mental fog
- Increased irritability
- Increased suicidal ideation
According to the American Psychological Association (APA), research indicates that CBT is more effective than medication. This is in regard to moderate to severe cases of mental illness. The theory behind it is that medication may relieve symptoms, but it won’t eradicate the cause.
When medication ceases to work, a cognitive behavioral therapy program instills lifelong practices to end the cycle of maladaptive behaviors and thoughts. On top of this, talk therapy is more cost-effective than medication. A lifetime of medication is more expensive than ten to 15 sessions.
At the end of the day, both medication and CBT can be used in tandem. Patients don’t necessarily need to choose between the two. Also, it becomes doubly effective. This could mean a shorter period of time it takes to recover. Additionally, it would instill healthy coping skills when a recovering addict doesn’t need medication anymore.
Are you ready to begin your recovery and renewal journey?
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At our treatment center, residents come to heal and renew their bodies, minds, and spirits. Find out how we can help you overcome addiction and find your way toward a brighter future. Contact us today to learn more.