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Addiction, also known as substance use disorder (SUD), is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) as a chronic, relapsing brain disorder. It is characterized by compulsively engaging in rewarding stimuli (e.g., abusing drugs and/ or alcohol) without regard for consequence. There are a variety of treatment options available to those struggling with substance abuse and/ or addiction. Psychiatrist Aaron Beck invented cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) in the 1960s. Through his studies, he came to realize that there was an undeniable and imperative link between an individual’s thoughts and feelings. He found that it was not uncommon for individuals to be unaware of the connection between how their negative thoughts adversely affected their emotions. He learned that guiding an individual to name and identify the thoughts perpetuating negativity was helpful in an individual overcoming related difficulty. Initially Beck named this psychotherapeutic treatment modality cognitive therapy, but it was later renamed to cognitive behavioral therapy because CBT relies equally on behavioral therapeutic techniques as it does cognitive.

CBT Basics

CBT is a structured, short-term, goal-oriented form of psychotherapy that “targets multiple areas of potential vulnerability (e.g., cognitive, behavioral, affective) with developmentally-guided strategies and traverses multiple intervention pathways.” CBT encompasses numerous strategies, focusing on an array of topics (e.g., extinction, habituation, modeling, cognitive restructuring, problem-solving, etc.) and aims to help people develop and refine coping strategies, self-mastery, and enhanced self-control. The steps of CBT include the following, provided by Psychology Today:

  1. Identify troubling situations and/ or conditions in your life (e.g., substance abuse, divorce, a medical condition, anger, grief, etc.). 
  2. Become aware of your emotions, thoughts, and beliefs connected to these troubling situations.
  3. Identify inaccurate and/ or negative thinking that may be contributing to your troubles.
  4. Reshape inaccurate and/ or negative thinking. To help facilitate this step, a therapist may encourage you to ask yourself if your view of the situation is based off an inaccurate perception of the situation or off facts. 

CBT is widely recognized as an effective substance abuse and/ or addiction treatment approach. Verywell Mind highlights several benefits of cognitive behavioral therapy, some of which include the following:

  • Honed ability to shift negative thought patterns toward positive thinking.
  • Enhanced self-compassion.
  • Identify positive responses to stress.
  • Improved communication with others.
  • Interrupt thoughts that lead to addictive or other self-destructive behaviors.
  • Learn to skillfully manage and reduce irrational anxiety, fears, and/ or phobias.
  • Enriched self-esteem.

Through CBT an individual will learn to understand that the way they behave has a direct correlation with their personal attitudes and emotional problems. The CBT framework is particularly beneficial in addiction recovery. According to a cognitive behavioral approach, the act of abusing drugs and/ or alcohol when a person has expressed a desire/ need to stop is a direct result of dysfunctional thoughts stemming from negative feelings. Through addressing and working on adjusting the unhelpful and inaccurate thoughts and feelings that lead to repeated poor behavior choices (e.g., relapsing, continuing to engage in substance abuse, etc.), a person can learn to replace the damaging thought processes with healthier behaviors and more positive emotions. Overtime, the goal is that through rewarding oneself for making healthier choices the negative internal dialogue will quiet and a more positive internal dialogue will become automatic.

For Information and Support 

If you are concerned for yourself or a loved one regarding substance abuse and/ or addiction, we recommend reaching out for help as soon as possible. If left untreated, substance abuse can result in long lasting and potentially life-threatening consequences. Keep in mind: you are not alone! There is an entire network of professionals that are available to help and support you and your loved one throughout the recovery process. The earlier you seek support, the sooner your loved one can return to a happy, healthy, and fulfilling life.

Please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions regarding our specific program at Haven House Addiction Treatment and/ or general substance abuse and/ or addiction treatment related information. Our highly trained staff is readily available to discuss how we might best be able to help you and your loved one. We can be reached by phone at 424-258-6792. You are also welcomed to contact anytime us via email at admissions@hhtxc.com.