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CBT Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

Learning About Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

The problem of treating addiction and mental illness, which can be a result of unhealthy thoughts and feelings can be addressed by cognitive-behavioural therapy.

Cognitive behavioural therapy, or CBT, is a method of psychological and psychiatric counselling invented by Dr. Aaron T. Beck in the 1960s.


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Help and resources from many people are required if you are looking to overcome an addiction. Drug addiction treatment programs, both outpatient and residential, will help you avoid relapses and stay sober afterwards. In order to maintain the skills that are required along with the recovery you can get help from mental health counsellors.

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CBT helps people to fight addiction by helping them to deal with the negative thoughts and feelings behind the addiction.


Nowadays, CBT has become a common part of treating addictions. Through CBT, the patients are shown how to connect their actions to their thoughts and feelings so they can be aware of how these factors are affecting their recovery.

Some addiction patients also have other issues concurrently occurring with the addiction problems like:

  • Apprehension
  • Attention Deficit Disorder [ADD]
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Various forms of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
  • Loss of appetite
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

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Cognitive Behavioural Therapy And How It Works

Many of the things we do or feel that harm us are not actually rational and CBT can help us to know this. The feelings and behaviours of people could be coming as a direct result from past experiences and factors related to the environment.

A recovering user may have certain negative thoughts that automatically come to mind and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy can help to identify them. A person's feelings play a very big part in the life of a person and their addiction. It has been observed that many people look forward to be self-medicating themselves to overcome the painful thoughts and feelings with the help of alcohol or by abusing substances.


When persons suffering from addiction realize the reason why they feel or act in a definite way and how these feelings and actions trigger drug use, they are better armed to combat their addictions.

Facing these sensitive areas often leads a patient to get over the acute pain they cause. After that they can learn other, favourable behaviours that will replace those leading to drug or alcohol use.


Dependency Treatment And Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

The root causes of depression and anxiety which are common among people, and are co-occurring disorders with addiction emanate from the automatic thoughts which have imbibed themselves within the individual.

This clearly indicates that the automatic thoughts within the mind can make an individual susceptible to drug abuse and alcoholism as well.

How to identify what brings on the urge for the drug or alcohol on a day to day basis. The National Institute On Drug Abuse has mentioned that help can be received by recovering addicts from cognitive-behavioural therapy to deal with the triggers which result in the cravings.


Alcoholism And Other Drugs Can Be Eliminated By Cbt Including

  • Helping to dispel my persuasions and feeling of insecurity, which result in substance abuse, from the patient's mind.
  • Providing the tools needed for self-help to improve their moods.
  • Carrying out training on effective communication skills.

Skills For Managing Triggers

  • Identification
  • Learn to identify what makes you want to take drugs or drink.
  • Avoid The Triggers
  • Whenever appropriate or possible to remove yourself from situations, which can trigger the cravings.
  • Cope
  • This involves dealing with the thoughts and feelings that cause you to abuse the substance using methods learnt in CBT.

Even when outside the treatment centre, you can still practice the methods learnt in CBT. Patients can do a lot of CBT exercises all by themselves - at a group meeting and at home.

Support groups for addiction such as Self-Management And Recovery Training [SMART] are also incorporating CBT principles within their self-help exercises as an encouragement for continued sobriety.


Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Practices

In order to help with addiction recovery cognitive behavioural therapists are known to utilise specific exercises.

Here are some examples of CBT techniques that are widely used in treatment of addictions:

  • Keeping Thought Records
  • Recovering addicts are required to examine their automatic negative thoughts and to look for objective evidence either supporting or disproving the thoughts.
  • They write down of pros and cons of their automatic thoughts to compare and set up the former against the latter.
  • The aim is to help them think positive, productive thoughts.

For example, a person may think that a supervisor at work doesn't think highly of them. For that, I need to use alcohol to get over this feeling "can be changed to " I accept my mistake and will rectify it next time. My supervisor may in fact think highly of me for being able to learn from my mistakes. I do not need alcohol to get a better feeling of myself.

  • Behavioural Experiments
  • Here the exercises involve comparing negative thoughts and positive thoughts to see which influence good behaviour more.
  • It is well-known that some people respond better to self-kindness while others could display better responses to self-criticism.
  • Behavioural experiments help individuals figure out whether they are self-motivators or self-critics.

Example: " "If I talk kindly to myself after binge drinking, I'll binge drink less." vs "If I'm hard on myself after binge drinking, I'll binge drink less."

  • Imagery Based Exposure Technique
  • This involves bringing up memories that cause highly negative feelings.
  • The person then carefully notes what they were seeing, hearing, feeling and thinking in that moment.
  • The anxiousness caused by certain negative experiences can be lessened by going over these experiences over and over.

Example: A difficult childhood memory is the focus of a young man's thoughts. He replays it in his mind remembering every feeling and detail of the event. Following constant experience, the recollection lessens the pain and thereby decreasing the craving for alcohol or drugs.

  • Pleasant Activity Program
  • This is a practice involving creating a healthy weekly list, entertaining practices to halt an individual's daily activities.
  • The key is to have activities that are uncomplicated and easy to execute while bringing out positive feelings.
  • The need to use drugs or alcohol can be reduced with the help of these activities since they will help to curb the negative thoughts that tend to creep up automatically.

Example: An accountant who is feeling overworked could schedule a few minutes of relaxation everyday during his work hours instead of drinking while working. Instead, the break is used to listen to a recently released song from a new music sensation.


How Cognitive-Behavioural Therapies Differ From Other Psychotherapies

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy provides a perfect alternative to less effective and engaging treatment techniques.

Addicts more often than not speak to their counsellors during a CBT meeting while the therapists listen attentively. The therapist and addict are instead expected to treat the addiction by working hand in hand.

The foundation of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy focuses on action-based treatment, which will be rapid. Most of the 60 - 90 day rehab programs have CBT as a component that equips addicts with immediate techniques to help in coping.

Some kinds of psychotherapy can take years until they produce a reliable result. Positive results in CBT may be visible in as little as sixteen sessions.

CBT therapy can be adapted to make it effective in outpatient or inpatient programs as well as in counselling sessions for groups or an individual. A lot of rehabilitation facilities and addiction therapists use CBT as a part of their treatment programs.