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Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

If you have had therapy before, you likely have at least heard the term cognitive behavioural therapy. It is a form of therapy that treats the thoughts and evaluations that you have about yourself and the world around you. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a very effective and useful form of therapy that can help you through many emotional and drug and alcohol addiction issues, so let’s take a look at it further, and you can see how CBT can help you.

How Does Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Work?

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy begins with the assumption that your thoughts control how you see the world, and how you feel about it. This form of therapy theorises that you learned, growing up, certain truths about the world, and internalised them as central beliefs about how things should be and how things are. Let’s look at an example to help understand this.

Imagine that you are sitting in your favourite coffee shop one afternoon, just sitting there reading a book. Without any warning, a stranger dumps a cup of coffee on your lap. You jump up and take care of yourself first, that’s just instinct. What happens next, however, is all based on those internal beliefs about life. Take a moment and ask yourself what you would feel and do? Would you be mad, and start yelling? Are you scared and looking for help? Or how about laughing at the absurdity of it all, maybe because it’s been such a hard day and this was just the final piece to an awful day that its ridiculous. Or perhaps any of a million other possible emotional combinations and reactions?

Thinking it through you can see that there are thousands of possible reactions that you could have, but what determines what you think and feel? Those internal beliefs and thoughts that happen so fast in your mind that you will not notice them without paying careful attention to what is going on inside your mind. That evaluation or thought will happen and colour how you see things and help you evaluate the situation. Following our example above, if you thought that people are threatening and the world is a dangerous place, you would probably be scared of the person who dumped coffee on you and look for help. If you had a belief structure that said that the only way to get what you want in life is to fight, you might jump up and punch the person without any question.

Cognitive behavioural therapy aims to identify and help you change those thoughts. It is a very focused and directed form of therapy which is used in alcohol rehabs that allows the therapist to work more and structure the sessions around your specific needs. Also, it is generally done as a brief form of therapy, with many lasting just 12-15 sessions, depending on individual need. Being short term, it is very focused, and will be centred on the present; very little time will be spent learning about how you grew up. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy centred treatment is about helping who you are now and helping you figure out what is helpful and healthy, and what you need to change. It is very useful in treating drug and alcohol addiction, anxiety and depression, with decades of research supporting its use as a treatment method for these conditions.

Additionally, dialectical behaviour therapy, a specialised form of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, is evidence-based psychotherapy that uses traditional elements of CBT in partnership with other targeted approaches to treat addiction. Dialectical behaviour therapy teaches mindfulness, acceptance and distress tolerance, all skills which can be vastly beneficial during drug and alcohol recovery.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

One of the first things to accomplish in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is to identify what your beliefs are about yourself and the world around you. The assessment is where the addiction therapist in the rehab will work with you to help you identify what your thoughts and beliefs are. While this sounds easy, you just talk about what you are thinking, but remember, these thoughts, these evaluations happen in a nanosecond, and you are not conscious of them. It takes time to identify what they are.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Addiction Treatment

Many rehabilitation facilities incorporate CBT into an addiction treatment program. Using reframing and restructuring techniques, the addiction therapist will give you tools and activities to help first combat the unhelpful thoughts. It is a process, but changing your thoughts can be done. It involves slowing yourself down and evaluating each situation as it comes up. In other words, you act, you don’t react. The addiction therapist will teach you that by slowing down and asking yourself questions about the person, yourself, or the situation, you can often find other possible explanations, that are more in tune with reality, than the assumptions you typically make.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in rehab helps patients overcome drug addiction and alcoholism by:


  • Helping to dismiss false beliefs and insecurities that lead to substance abuse
  • Providing self-help tools to better their moods
  • Teaching effective communication skills


Coping skills are another important aspect of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. What is known about certain diseases like drug and alcohol addiction or depression, is that there are certain symptoms that just happen. They are biological in nature, and often are temporary, but require some help to get through them. That is where CBT comes in. CBT will teach you ways to cope and manage any types of distress that may happen to you. While it will be specific to you, there will be some general tips and helpful habits that they can give you so that you can start to live a healthier life overall.

Practice is also going to be a very vital part of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy as well. You can expect to have homework between sessions, as well as taking time during sessions to practice and review what you have done the past week. Change is never easy, and this kind of change takes time, effort, and most importantly, practice. Homework will be specific to you and the skills you are trying to learn. It will be practising, for example, how to come up with other possible reasons for why the person dumped coffee on your lap. Could it be an accident? Did this person think you were someone else? Were they having a seizure? It could be anything and slowing yourself down will let you see the reality of the situation and act appropriately.

Every person living under the weight of drug and alcohol addiction has unique circumstances which brought them there. Identifying and treating personal issues that prompt drug or alcohol abuse helps to reduce triggers and self-destructive behaviours.

Cognitive behavioural therapy in rehab is an amazing tool to use to learn more about yourself and why you react the way you do, and then learn to actually evaluate what you are doing to see if it fits with reality. It is well researched and can be used to treat a variety of diseases, including drug and alcohol addiction. CBT can give you back a meaningful and healthy life. Help and healing are out there for you with this.

If you know that you or a loved one is plagued with negative thoughts that fuel addictive tendencies, then CBT is a great option. However, the process of achieving freedom begins with contacting an expert to help point you in the right direction. You do not have to seek treatment alone or find a rehabilitation facility on your own. Contact us today to find a rehabilitation centre near you. We can give you the key to unlocking the door to a new path to life. Recovery is only a decision away.



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