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CBT for Substance Abuse Treatment: Strategies for Sustainable Recovery


CBT for Substance Abuse Treatment: Strategies for Sustainable Recovery

After years of substance abuse, Elyse was finally feeling hopeful. In therapy, she had acknowledged that addiction is a chronic health problem that requires a sustainable plan to successfully move forward in life. She had learned to avoid thought patterns that often led her to implement self-destructive coping strategies and to recognize the external triggers that set them off. Though she had tried rehab before, a comprehensive intensive outpatient program had made the difference for her this time, and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) had helped her connect the dots.

CBT Supports Substance Abuse Recovery

Negative or exaggerated thoughts about ourselves, the world, and the future can lead to strong emotions that leave us feeling pessimistic and hopeless. Unrealistic beliefs may prevent us from ever feeling successful and may cause us to shut down. The burden of these thought patterns may result in maladaptive coping strategies that may make us feel better temporarily, but in the case of substance abuse, cause more damage in the long-term. Addressing our beliefs and learning to redirect our actions holds promise for relapse prevention as we recover—CBT teaches us to do that.

Many believe that CBT is the most effective psychotherapy currently available for treating a variety of mental health conditions. It has certainly become a staple in the treatment of substance use disorders, and it plays a significant role in many comprehensive rehab programs. CBT is an evidence-based talk therapy used to change or modify behaviors and can be very useful in altering the patterns that lead to addiction.

The Multiple Benefits of CBT for Substance Abuse Treatment

CBT is a critical part of a comprehensive treatment plan. These are a few of the benefits of CBT:

Recognizing and Managing External Triggers

Knowledge gives us power. By identifying the external influences (people, places, and things) that trigger our substance abuse, we can learn to anticipate situations that may precipitate a relapse.

Reframing Thoughts and Beliefs

Often erroneous beliefs hold us back in life. CBT helps us approach challenges one step at a time. By setting goals and working toward them incrementally, we can stop feeling overwhelmed by problems and start to take control.

Controlling Emotions

When we do not have healthy ways to deal with negative emotions, we may cope by trying to dull or numb our pain. As we learn about the CBT Triangle in therapy, it helps us understand how our thoughts and behaviors connect with and influence our feelings. Through CBT, we receive tools that we can practice and apply in real life.

Solving Problems

Though it is regarded as talk-therapy, CBT can help you take action. By facing fears and taking steps toward positive changes, CBT helps you to create forward momentum. These successes can increase self-efficacy beliefs and empower you to persevere through adversity. This is especially helpful for sustaining long-term recovery.

Confronting Trauma

Since substance abuse commonly occurs as a coping strategy for people suffering from Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), the use of CBT in treatment can help participants confront past traumas effectively. Since CBT has value for treating a variety of mental health issues, it can be especially beneficial when there is a dual diagnosis.

Building Useful Skills

CBT involves participants in practicing skills that provide a healthier way to cope. Through practice and repetition, these skills can replace unhealthy coping strategies like drinking or abusing addictive substances.

Addressing Specific Populations

Sometimes CBT is used as a component in treatment focused on specific groups of participants. Programs focused on the trauma histories of military vets or the developmental needs of college students use CBT very successfully to create lasting behavioral change.

Treatment That Makes a Difference

CBT is a goal-oriented strategy that will help you build useful skills that you can draw on for years to come. As part of a residential or outpatient program, CBT can have a significant impact on your recovery. By empowering you to identify your personal strengths, CBT helps you to develop healthy and sustainable coping strategies that can be employed as needed. As you learn to recognize the connection between your thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and behaviors, CBT can help you to anticipate problems and prevent relapse. These life skills are especially applicable for the type of long-term recovery that is characteristic of a chronic disorder such as substance abuse.

Incorporating CBT into substance abuse treatment offers realistic hope for sustainable recovery. Through a comprehensive rehab program at New Choices Treatment Centers, you will gain valuable skills and build healthier coping strategies. Reach out online or call today at (726) 888-7003 to speak to an admissions counselor.