When it comes to beating drug or alcohol addiction, a comprehensive recovery programme is usually necessary. This involves detox followed by rehabilitation, where various treatments are utilised to help you deal with the underlying issues that may have led to your addictive behaviour in the first place. One such therapy is cognitive behavioural therapy, and it is widely used in the treatment of addiction and mental health problems. In the below passages, we explain how cognitive behavioural therapy is used in treating addiction.
When is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Necessary?
If you have been struggling to control your use of alcohol or drugs, you may be wondering if your situation is bad enough to warrant treatment and if a therapy such as cognitive behavioural therapy might be necessary for you.
Maybe someone you love has suggested that you might benefit from this therapy, but you believe that your drinking or drug taking is not a major issue and that you are nowhere near close enough to needing professional help? If so, would it not be a good idea to know for sure?
Think about your use of alcohol and drugs and whether you now need more to achieve a certain level of satisfaction than you did when you first began using this substance. If this is the case, it is likely that you have become tolerant to its effects.
You should also take some time to consider how much control you have over your drinking or drug taking as this will give you an indication of how severe your problem is. For example, do you find yourself unable to stop drinking or using drugs once you have started? Have you promised yourself or others that you were not going to drink but then found that you were unable to resist?
If you have answered yes, then these are signs that you may have a problem that needs help. Addiction is more to do with the amount of control you have over a particular substance than the type of substance you use or the frequency with which you use it. If you are unable to control your use of alcohol or drugs, it is likely that you need help and that you could benefit from a treatment such as cognitive behavioural therapy.
How Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Can Help Addiction
To understand how cognitive behavioural therapy can help addiction, it is important to understand what it is. In a nutshell, it is a form of talking therapy that is based on the idea that emotions, thoughts, physical sensations, and behaviours are all connected and that when you have negative thoughts and emotions, it can affect your actions.
So if you interpret a situation in a negative way, for example, then you are more likely to experience negative emotions, which could then cause you to act in a way that is harmful to you and others.
Cognitive behavioural therapy is designed to help you deal positively with any overwhelming problems in your life by breaking them down into small parts that can be less of a challenge to overcome.
It is believed that negative thinking can begin quite early in a person’s life. It may even begin during childhood, and if it is not addressed at this stage, these negative feelings can become automatic throughout adulthood.
Addiction can often be caused by negative thoughts and emotions. Some individuals with low self-esteem and low self-worth will try to self-medicate with mood-altering substances such as alcohol or drugs. When they are feeling low or depressed, they might believe that they are worthless and that they have let others down. This might then cause them to withdraw from others and seek solace in drugs or alcohol.
When used in the treatment of addiction, cognitive behavioural therapy can help you to focus on your thought patterns and processes so that you can identify where and why you have negative views of yourself, your life, and the world around you. You might find that you suffer from a few cognitive distortions, such as:
- Dwelling only on negative issues
- Seeing things in black and white only
- Viewing any negative event as a series of unending defeats
- Assuming that your beliefs, thoughts, and feelings are true even if there is no evidence to support it
- Being unable to see positives for what they are and finding negative issues to cancel them out.
What to Expect from Cognitive Behavioural Therapy?
If cognitive behavioural therapy is used as part of your treatment programme for an alcohol or drug addiction, it will help you to learn how to challenge any negative thought patterns that you may have. The aim is to teach you how to stop the negative cycle of thinking that drives your negative behaviour.
During each session, you and your counsellor will work together to establish a relationship that is based on trust. By doing this, you will be more likely to be open and honest about your thoughts and feelings.
As cognitive behavioural therapy is all about dealing with the present rather than the past, it is likely that at each session you will talk about the issues that you have been dealing with in the preceding week. You will not be delving deep into your past to try to get to the root of your problems. This is something that is dealt with during other sessions.
Cognitive behavioural therapy aims to give you the ability to identify and challenge your negative thoughts so that you can learn how to change them. Your therapist will teach you how to develop positive coping skills that you can use when faced with negative thoughts or emotions.
You may learn how to use various relaxation techniques, and you will be taught how to become more assertive. The techniques that you learn are designed to be used outside of your therapy sessions to help you maintain your sobriety long-term.
Is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Right for You?
When thinking about how cognitive behavioural therapy works and how it can help those with addiction, it is important to consider your specific situation to ensure that it is right for you. While it is a hugely popular treatment programme for the treatment of mental health issues and addiction, it is not appropriate for everyone.
Cognitive behavioural therapy is a short-term therapy that is typically used over a few weeks. It is not really designed for long-term use and so if you have complex issues it may not be appropriate for your situation.
You should also consider how comfortable you are discussing your feelings. You might not want to engage with a counsellor about the deep emotional issues that are affecting you. It is also important to note that you will be expected to complete assignments after each session, so you will have to be prepared to commit time to doing this.
If you are willing to work hard and commit to cognitive behavioural therapy and all that it involves, you may find that it is the ideal therapy for helping you to overcome your addiction. When used in conjunction with other treatments such as motivational interviewing, 12-step therapy, and holistic treatments, it can be very effective in helping you to achieve a full recovery.
For more information on how cognitive behavioural therapy works, please contact us here at Oasis Bradford. We can provide information and advice on our own programmes and how we use this therapy to help many people get their lives back on track. Call today to find out more.