Originally developed as a method to prevent relapse when treating alcoholism, cognitive behavior therapy is also used to treat a range of other addictions. CBT operates under the theory that maladaptive behavioral patterns play as significant a role in drug abuse as do physical elements.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
In addiction, cravings and obsessions to use a substance can be triggered by specific situations. CBT specialists believe the tendency to resort to using as a method of response, defense or coping is due to a series of misinterpretations.
Crack, heroin, marijuana, or whatever substance we have come to rely on, can ease our fears, boost our confidence, and block out painful memories. Often times those perceived threats are not present,our confidence can be found right within ourselves, and those memories can offer important insight for healing.
Dr. Aaron T. Beck, a pioneer of CBT, has referred to these misinterpretations as “cognitive errors.” He originally intended his form of psychotherapy for treating depressed individuals. It has since been established within the medical community that unrealistic thoughts play a role in an array of other mental illness, addiction included. The challenge in changing one’s distorted thoughts is, of course, convincing them that they are distorted.
Depending on the addict, CBT has proven successful combined with (and sometimes in place of) several medications, as prescribed by a medical professional. The treatment itself typically runs for 1-20 therapy sessions, throughout which patients learn to:
- analyze situations from another perspective
- channel emotion more appropriately
- face fears
With these developments come an overall improved sense of awareness—of the self and of the environment—that can help guide patients productively through life.
An essential factor in successful cognitive behavioral therapy is a good relationship between the counselor and patient. If you or someone you know is considering CBT, please explore or call to speak with a representative.
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