The Use of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for Addiction

At LVRC, we treat addiction with the use of cognitive behavioral therapy, which is a form of psychotherapy that connects thoughts to feelings. CBT therapists believe that when an individual changes the way he or she thinks, feelings and behaviors can change. They help their clients first identify distorted thought patterns, and then show them how to replace negative thoughts with positive thoughts. CBT therapists understand that addiction involves more than just the symptoms of the disease. At the root of those symptoms are thoughts. CBT treatments help control and modify thoughts, diminishing the stress, fear, anxiety, sadness, and depression that may trigger addictive behavior.

Developing New Habits with CBT for Addiction

CBT for addiction has two main components: functional analysis and skills training. Functional analysis entails working with a therapist to identify what an individual was feeling and thinking after an addictive episode, and defining the circumstances under which the behavior took place. Functional analysis gives an individual insight into why he or she engages in addictive behavior and identifies situations that require new coping skills. Skills training teaches clients coping mechanisms to help them deal with situations that might trigger addiction. Once a therapist and client identify trigger situations, the therapist helps the client determine what healthy behaviors might replace old habits.. For instance, rather than buying into a stressful thought, an individual can replace it with a thought like, “I can call someone for help with this,” or “I can break this situation into manageable parts and do the footwork for resolving the problem.”

 Active Participation in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Addiction

Clients can actively engage in cognitive behavioral therapy for addiction even after leaving treatment. Once they learn they can affect their addiction through changed thought patterns, they are motivated to continue with new ways of thinking. They are no longer victims but active participants in their recovery, practicing and developing new coping skills. CBT has proven to be beneficial in treating addiction, whether from a computer, in sessions with a private therapist, or in groups. At LVRC, we encourage our clients to continue learning and growing after leaving our care, though we do suggest return visits with therapists as necessary. In doing so, we are encouraging our clients to take an active role in maintaining long-term recovery by reaching out for professional support when the need arises.