As human beings, we have to learn to do almost everything in our lives. There is not much inborn knowledge. The way we think was learned in large part from the people we grew up with. This includes:
- Extended family members
At times, the thought patterns we learned were good for us but at other times, they weren’t. However, if we identify thought patterns that are needlessly pessimistic or unproductive, we can learn new ways of thinking.
CBT is a technique of mental and emotional restructuring in which we:
- Recognize our unproductive ways of thinking
- Recognize when we’re thinking those negative thoughts
- Purposely stop those thoughts
- Reject the negativity
- Replace them with more constructive ways of thinking
At 449 Recovery in Mission Viejo, California, our mental health facility utilizes evidence-based therapies such as cognitive-behavioral therapy for addiction to help people improve their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors into more positive ones.
Anyone suffering from any of these problems is a good candidate for CBT. People suffering from mental conditions like:
- Bipolar disorder
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
The main theory in cognitive-behavioral therapy for addiction is that your feelings, thoughts, and behavior all affect each other.
The 3 Basic Principles of CBT
Our core beliefs are shaped by our childhood experiences. They are anchored in how we see ourselves, our environment, and the future, together with our beliefs about these factors.
People tend to hang onto the negative more easily than the positive. But, these cognitive misinterpretations are irrational thought patterns that twist our perceptions of reality.
Automatic negative thoughts are involuntary negative views of reality that happen out of habit. They are brief and cause negative emotions, so they may be difficult to recognize.
If you can change the way you think about a situation, or how you react to a situation, then you can change how you feel in that situation. It’s also important to realize that we don’t have to believe our thoughts. You have a choice in how you respond to them. With practice, you can learn to challenge them and react in more realistic, kinder, and more useful ways.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy for addiction, also called substance use disorder (SUD) operates on the theory that feelings, thoughts, and behaviors are all connected. Recognizing and altering the connections between feelings, thoughts, and behaviors will help change unwanted factors, such as being extremely sad–this is a feeling that may be connected to the behavior of substance abuse.
CBT is a common and very effective treatment for psychological disorders. It has also been proven to be an effective treatment for SUDs. While some forms of therapy may take many months or even years to be effective, CBT has an impact in a much shorter time.
During sessions, therapists lead the process by teaching you how to build effective skills to cope with several issues such as:
- Panic disorders
The director of the Crisis Stabilization Inpatient Unit at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine has noted that “Cognitive behavioral therapy is based on the idea that the person is having difficulties because of faulty thinking and behaviors.” Through CBT techniques, the unproductive, negative thoughts are identified, challenged, and replaced with objective, more realistic thoughts. In other words, what you learned, you can unlearn.
An important part of using CBT to overcome addictive behavior is knowing the triggers of that behavior. Common triggers that can lead someone to crave a drink include:
Wanting to be more social at a party might be a trigger for one person, while exhaustion after a long day at work might trigger another person. Cognitive behavioral therapy can help most people spot the patterns in their life that are directly connected to their addictive behaviors. Once those patterns are identified, CBT therapists can help refute that connection between a trigger and the addictive behavior through homework, activities, and lessons.
One example could be if you realize that you tend to drink because it helps you relax when you’re stressed. The CBT therapist might teach you other ways to relax and unwind. If you experience negative thoughts about your drinking such as, “I’ve been drinking to relax for so long that I’ll never be able to quit,” your therapist can help you train your mind to think more constructively.
Besides learning to manage your addiction, CBT can help you address many other problems. Almost 20% of people suffering from SUD are also living with depression. Cognitive-behavioral therapy for addiction can help you reduce your addictive behaviors and rid yourself of the distressing thoughts and feelings that are common to depression.
By helping you recognize and change your negative thought patterns and behaviors, When you use cognitive behavioral therapy for addiction, it helps you get a more realistic view of the world and recognize and accept events that are beyond your control. For instance, you might be certain that you will contract coronavirus and die. CBT helps you understand that although it is remotely possible, it is not necessarily true.
Cognitive behavioral therapy is structured and focused. You will work with your therapist and create a schedule of what you want to accomplish. As mentioned, CBT is a relatively short-term therapy that doesn’t usually last more than 6 months. You’ll learn coping methods and productive and practical ways to react to anxiety-causing situations or feelings.
The 5 Steps
1. Make a list: Take a piece of paper and divide it in half from top to bottom. Write “Old thoughts” on the left side and “Replacement thoughts” on the right.
2. Write down your old, unproductive thoughts: Write your old, unproductive thoughts that you still have regularly. These may be worried or anxious thoughts, self-criticisms, thoughts that show a lack of self-confidence, thoughts that hold you back, or thoughts that make you feel sad. Make sure to write them down exactly the way you say them to yourself.
3. Create new thoughts to replace them.
On the right-hand side, create a replacement thought for each unproductive thought you wrote down. Make sure that: If it’s a lie, what is the truth? (Don’t just lie to yourself), you create a more realistic picture of your situation.
4. Read your list often: Read your replacement thoughts at least twice a day. You’ll soon begin to memorize them so you can use them every day.
5. Notice and replace when necessary: As you go through the day, take note of when you think of an unproductive thought. Reject it and speak your replacement thought. The key to cognitive restructuring is being consistent.
Your general health and well-being include physical and mental health. However, a lot of people don’t look for mental healthcare when they need it. They assume that mental healthcare is too expensive and not covered by insurance. This used to be true, but it no longer is.
The Mental Health Parit and Addiction Equity Act (MPHAEA) of 2008 have changed that. Because of this law, mental healthcare is now covered by most insurance plans. Insurance can be used for therapy (including CBT and online therapy in some cases).
Medicaid, Medicare, and CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program) programs all provide coverage for mental healthcare including SUD treatment. It’s important to check with your insurance company (or your treatment provider) to find out the amount of coverage available to you. The types of treatment covered by most insurance companies include:
- Outpatient treatment (includes therapy)
- Emergency psychiatric treatment
- Inpatient treatment at a psychiatric facility or hospital
- Addiction and SUD treatment
- Medical detox
- Online therapy treatment
Are you struggling with addiction? Or have you given in to distorted thinking and told yourself that it’s not that bad? Maybe it’s a loved one you’re concerned about. There is no good reason to not get help.
At 449, we have admissions specialists who will be happy to answer your questions about cognitive-behavioral therapy for addiction and check your insurance benefits. We are in-network with several companies and will help you navigate the confusing legal jargon.
Our treatment programs include:
- Dual diagnosis: Many people have a co-occurring mental issue that needs to be treated at the same time as the SUD.
- Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP): This is technically an outpatient program but with the same intensity as a residential or inpatient program.
- Outpatient Program (OP): For people with a milder form of addiction.
- Aftercare Program: Also known as “recovery management,” an aftercare program can help you maintain your abstinence and stay in recovery.
You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by contacting us today. Check out the insurance, get information in case your treatment starts to cost you more than you expected, or just talk to someone who understands.
Dr. Warren Taff MD, graduated from the University of Birmingham, England School of Medicine, with a BA from Rutgers University. He then went on to UCLA School of Public Health in Los Angeles Health and Human Services and received an MPH. He also attended an internship in internal medicine, with the Veterans Administration. Dr. Taff’s residency includes General Psychiatry at USC, with elective residencies at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney, Australia, and Royal College of Psychiatry. Board certifications include American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. Dr. Taff has extensive experience in both psychiatry and addiction medicine, extending from 1979 to present. He has held professional titles that include Chief of Staff and Medical Directorship in both hospitals and private sectors.