How Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Helps Treat Addiction

How Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Helps Treat Addiction

When treating the psychological aspect of addiction, it is important to figure out how to rewire the brain to help it learn new habits and discover what was at the root of the addiction in the first place. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a classic mental health counseling technique often used for addiction treatment as well as the treatment of co-occurring disorders, including anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

How Does CBT Work?

The brain is a complex organ that requires quite a bit of work to change or alter its pathways. People who suffer from addiction often have established thought patterns that lead them back to addiction again and again. In order to stop these recurrent thoughts, the brain’s pathways have to be rerouted.

This is where CBT comes in. When clients begin receiving cognitive counseling, the therapist works with them to figure out what their “automatic thoughts” are. These thoughts often come from a negative place like self-doubt or fear. Drugs and alcohol help to silence these thoughts, which is one of the reasons people turn to them again and again.

The therapist may have the client relive old memories that are the root cause of these thoughts to help them associate new thoughts with the memory and look at it from a different perspective. After a while, this cognitive counseling begins to help reroute the brain, which is a step towards breaking a psychological addiction.

Other CBT techniques include:

  • Pleasant activity schedule / self-care – Instead of turning to drugs or alcohol when a trigger occurs, the individual does something that they enjoy or takes time out of the day to engage in self-care.
  • Exposure to distressing situations – In therapy, the client makes a list of things they typically avoid and rate the level of distress associated with it. They then experiment with trying these activities in a safe way, repeatedly, to reduce the level of associated stress or anxiety.
  • Behavioral experiments – Conducting cognitive behavioral experiments or counseling helps clients get to know themselves better and understand what they respond to, allowing them to better coach themselves through a trigger.

Why is CBT So Effective for Addiction Treatment?

Often, people who develop addictions also have co-occurring disorders that feed the addiction. These co-occurring disorders can result in more triggers and insecurities that make fighting addiction difficult. CBT effectively addresses these disorders along with addiction.

One of the most important aspects of this cognitive counseling is that it is possible to practice it both inside and outside the therapist’s office. Individuals can (and should) do exercises on their own to strengthen their brains.

Additionally, CBT techniques are ideal for helping people manage the triggers that are likely to arise in everyday life. With cognitive counseling, clients become more aware of their own thought processes, they can start recognizing what triggers them and learn how to either avoid those triggers altogether or create healthy coping mechanisms for getting through them drug and alcohol-free.

Whole Person Addiction Treatment at RAIN Recovery

CBT is just one aspect of addiction treatment. Other common clinical therapies for addiction treatment include:

  • Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT)
  • Eye-movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR)
  • Group therapy

Additionally, holistic-based therapies like mindfulness and metaphysical energy work are part of a whole-person approach to addiction treatment. It is critical to address body, mind, and soul when treating an addiction.

At RAIN Recovery, we recognize the importance of treating our clients as whole people, learning their stories and figuring out what type of personalized treatments will work best for them. If you or a loved one is in the clutches of addiction, our cognitive counseling can help. Give us a call today at  (818) 208-9446 or contact us on the website for more information.

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