Cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, has many applications, but one of the most intriguing is how it can be used in cases of drug and/or alcohol addiction. While CBT may not have been originally developed for this purpose, it’s become one of the most effective types of therapy for individuals struggling with substance abuse.
Mindfulness-based behavioral therapies like CBT can be used for all kinds of addictive behaviors not related to illicit drugs or alcohol. For instance, a 2015 research review found that 13 different studies that used mindfulness-based interventions for smokers had promising results pertaining to cravings, cessation, and relapse prevention. CBT is well-suited for virtually any kind of addiction because it’s aimed at gaining insight into one’s self and changing the way an individual thinks, reacts, and behaves in certain situations.
Why does cognitive behavioral therapy work for many addicts?
Those who struggle with addiction may benefit from many different types of therapy. However, CBT is often an especially good fit for those who exhibit addictive behaviors. CBT is based on the idea that our thoughts (sometimes referred to as an internal dialogue) will directly impact how we feel and subsequently behave. This is one reason why many addicted individuals feel stuck in an endless cycle. When you continue to think in the same way over and over, you’ll act in the same destructive ways, too. But if the way we think can be amended in a positive fashion, this can have a domino effect, thus changing how we behave for the better. When an addict becomes sober, they’re more likely to stay that way if they can change the way they think and act.
Has cognitive behavioral therapy for adults been shown to be effective in treating addiction?
For more than 30 years, CBT has been used as part of addiction recovery. In fact, the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs recently published an analysis of 50+ CBT studies and concluded that CBT is one of the most effective types of therapy for treating addiction disorders. In addition, the National Institute on Drug Abuse officially recommends CBT as part of addiction recovery treatment. Because CBT helps patients identify situations in which they’re most likely to use substances and develop ways to deal with related emotions and issues, it addresses some of the more underlying causes of addiction. This can often be beneficial for addicted individuals who don’t completely understand the reasons behind why they continue to use or how they can make a real change.
What is a CBT session like?
Typically, an individual will partake in 12 to 16 sessions over the course of a few months. Sessions are usually anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour and a half long, but this largely depends on the therapist or practice. These short-term treatment sessions may not seem like they can help, but for many people, they make a huge difference. In these types of therapy sessions, you can speak openly and honestly about the issues interwoven with your drug use. Your therapist will ask you questions about your relationship with the drug and will help you explore new ways of thinking. Ultimately, your therapist will personalize a plan for your recovery based on your immediate needs and goals.
How can I find out more about getting help with CBT?
At CBT Westport, we’re dedicated to getting you the assistance you need. For many people who are struggling with addictive behaviors, CBT can provide a new lease on life. If you’d like to know more about CBT and how these sessions can help you, please contact us today.