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What is CBT?

Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (known as CBT) is a particular type of psychotherapy that helps us to understand how our thoughts and actions can affect everyday life, and the way that we feel.

CBT describes that the way in which we think about situations affects the way that we feel and behave. It is based on the theory that if we interpret a situation negatively then we might experience negative emotions as result – and those bad feelings can then lead us to behave in a certain way.

This type of therapy is often used within treatment programmes for anxiety, depression and other mental health disorders. It has also proved to be very successful when treating alcoholics and those fighting drug addictions.

When cognitive-behavioural coping skills treatment is used as part of an addiction or alcoholism treatment programme, it is a short-term, focused therapeutic approach to help alcohol and drug dependent individuals become disciplined and no longer reliant on substances. It is actually a simple theory; to use the exact processes that individuals use to develop alcohol and drug dependence in the beginning.

How can CBT work as a treatment for addiction?

As cognitive behavioural therapy is based on the idea that feelings and actions are caused by our thoughts and not outside factors such as other people and situations, CBT teaches us that while we cannot change our circumstances, we can change how we think about them. Behavioural therapists state that this helps us to change how we feel and behave.

When used for in alcohol or drug rehab as part of addiction treatment, the goal of CBT is to:

1. Teach the addict to realise and recognise situations where they are more likely to use drugs or drink alcohol.
2. How to avoid these situations where possible.
3. How to cope with other situations, problems and behaviours that can lead to substance abuse.

What are the elements of CBT?

When used to treat drug and alcohol addicts, CBT has two main aspects: skills training and functional analysis.

Skills training. This is usually used at the point where the addict needs professional treatment, as the using of alcohol or drugs has reached the stage when the individual is using the substance as a way of coping with their problems and issues. CBT helps the addict to learn better coping skills and how to re-learn ways to deal with those situations when they reach for an outlet.

How is this undertaken?

The medical professional takes the individual through their old habits and attempts to teach them to develop new skills and habits in their everyday life. The addict is then taken through ways that they can change – and to think about how they think about alcohol or drugs. Once their attitude towards them changes, they can attempt to cope with situations (in the past) that encouraged them to drink to excess or use drugs.

Functional Analysis: Once the addict has accepted that they turn to alcohol or drugs as a coping mechanism, the medical professional helps them to determine which thoughts, feelings and particular circumstances drove them to their addiction. This then identifies and hopefully warns the individual of which of these are likely to lead to a relapse.

Functional analysis is a CBT technique that can help to determine why that individual turned to drink or drugs at the very beginning. This can help with coping strategies.

How long does CBT take?

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is extremely popular because of its success rate. It has been stated that because of its intensive approach, it is a short treatment time compared to other forms of therapy. The exact length of treatment and regularity of appointments and sessions very much depends on the individual’s specific needs and situation and can vary from person to person.

These needs and situations can be dependant on the type of disorder and the specific circumstances of their addiction. It can also change because of the symptoms that person is experiencing, the length of time an individual has been suffering, the support he or she has been receiving, and most importantly, if the addict is experiencing any mental health issues because of their addiction. Our medical professionals will help to decide on the correct plan and duration of treatment.

How Effective Is Cognitive Behaviour Therapy?

CBT is extremely successful, and studies of the therapy have shown that it is effective when treating depression, anxiety and addiction.
There are many therapies that can be used to treat any conditions, but Cognitive Behavioural Therapy has been proven many times to be fundamental in treating addictions and mental health issues.

In most alcohol and drug treatment programmes, the medical professionals state that CBT is the foundation for all their treatment.

CBT is not a new approach to treat addiction. Research has shown that the skills that the addicts have learned through cognitive therapy remains with them for a long time after completion of treatment.

Current research focuses on how to produce even more powerful effects by combining CBT with medications for drug abuse and with other types of behavioural therapies. A computer-based CBT system has also been developed and has been shown to be effective in helping reduce drug use following standard drug abuse treatment.

Will CBT work for everyone?

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is also popular effective as the techniques can be practiced after the therapy sessions. Recovering addicts can do many CBT exercises and techniques either on their own at home or in a group setting.

There are many short and long term benefits from CBT, but, as in every cases of alcohol and drug addiction, each individual deals with their recovery in a different way – and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy may not work for all.

Accessing rehab at The Providence Projects is a very simple process and you can start within a matter of days. If you are the person with the problem, or a concerned friend or family member, our counselling team are available to take your call on our private rehab helpline and answer any questions you may have. Please call us for free advice on 0800 955 0945.


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