Numerous studies have demonstrated the efficacy of cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) in the treatment of addiction problems. This approach is also a good option as it is cost-effective and the tools of CBT are relatively easy to use in daily life. Many rehabs around the world now offer CBT either as part of their programme or as a primary treatment. It is also possible for clients to benefit from this approach to addiction as an outpatient.
What is CBT?
CBT works on the assumption that the way people think impacts on how they feel and behave. This means that changing the way a person thinks will change their behaviour. CBT actually includes a number of different treatments, including cognitive therapy, rational emotive behaviour therapy, dialectic behaviour therapy, and rational living therapy.
CBT is also classified as a form of psychotherapy. This means that it involves treating mental disorders and maladaptive behaviours with psychological treatments rather than medical ones. It is the goal of the therapist using psychotherapy to help the client identify their problem and then come up with strategies for dealing with it. Other forms of psychotherapy include humanist therapy and psychoanalytic therapy (originating from the work of Sigmund Freud).
CBT for Addiction
The CBT approach to addiction differs from the 12-step philosophy in a number of important ways. The most noticeable difference is that CBT does not work on the assumption that addiction is a disease. In this approach, the individual is responsible for his or her situation, and it will be up to them to escape it. The reasons why individuals remain trapped in addiction are that they do not have the tools for living without alcohol or drugs; it is the goal of CBT to provide the individual with the tools needed to break free.
One of the other important ideas in CBT is that addiction is a symptom of a bigger problem. Those individuals who end up abusing alcohol or drugs usually do so because they are struggling to deal with their circumstances. When a person becomes sober, he or she will then be back facing those same circumstances, which could put them at high risk of relapse. It is not always possible to change the circumstances in life, but it is possible to change the way of thinking about these circumstances – thus changing reactions and behaviour.
An important way that CBT helps individuals deal with addiction problems is that it allows them to think about the situation where they are most likely to use alcohol or drugs. It is then possible to develop strategies for avoiding these situations or, at least, being better able to handle them.
CBT in Rehab
A rehab programme that provides CBT to clients will usually make use of two main components of this form of therapy: functional analysis and skills training. The purpose of functional analysis is to help the client identify the different thoughts and feelings that lead to addictive behaviour. For example, the client may discover that he or she is most likely to drink or use drugs when dealing with strong emotions or stress. The identification of these trigger events is vital as it allows the client to be better prepared in the future.
The second component of CBT in rehab is skills training. This is all about teaching the client effective coping strategies so that he or she no longer feels the need to abuse alcohol or drugs. It is not possible to remove all the stress and challenges in life (the circumstances that increase the risk of addictive behaviour), but it is possible to better prepare individuals for dealing with these difficulties.