Use of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in Drug Treatment

In order to understand the effectiveness of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) in drug treatment, it is important to understand exactly it is. According to the National Association of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapists, CBT “is a form of psychotherapy that emphasizes the important role of thinking in how we feel and what we do.”

Broken down, it is fairly easy to understand.

The word “cognitive” means “to think.” The word “behavioral” refers to actions – what we do and how we behave. CBT operates on the belief that how a person thinks will directly affect the choices he makes and the actions that he takes. In opposition to this is the belief that other people or other forces are responsible for our reactions. In other words, the belief that we do things in reaction to what happens to us, rather than making clear, responsible decisions.

When applied to someone afflicted with addiction, choosing to operate under the notion that the individual addict somehow has no choice whether they will use drugs or consume alcohol can undermine the entire recovery process. More and more therapists have turned to the CBT model of thought as it relates to action.

How Does Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Work in Drug Treatment?

CBT helps a recovering addict see the relationship between their own cognitive thoughts and the resulting behavioral actions. The techniques involved in the therapy process include:

  • Role-playing
  • Homework assignments
  • Analyzing past decisions and choices
  • Establishing alternatives

Time Plays a Factor With CBT in a Drug Treatment Setting

Because of the limited time that an individual may spend in a recovery center or treatment program, time is of the essence. CBT is not an open-ended, ongoing therapy model that can take years. Rather, it is a short-term, established program that can take an average of 16 weeks to complete. This makes CBT ideal for treatment centers as well as intensive outpatient programs.

Establishing a Partnership Between Recovering Addicts and Therapists

The Cognitive Behavioral Therapy model involves establishing a trust between the therapist and the patient. Cognitive Behavioral TherapyIt also depends upon active participation from the patient, specifically. This is helpful in the recovery process for addiction because the recovering addict must learn that his or her choices and actions make a profound difference in the direction of his or her life.

CBT includes daily homework assignments. Part of this process helps establish a record of responsibility for the recovering addict. She will learn that there are rewards to be gained when she applies herself to the work at hand.

Redirecting Learned Behavior

The model upon which CBT was originally created is one of education. It is based upon the idea that everything we know about ourselves – how we react, how we think, how we approach the world – is learned over the course of a lifetime. CBT is designed to help the sufferer “unlearn” bad habits and create new reaction skills.

Overall, CBT is a retraining of the thought process to provide a platform for making better choices in the future. The recovering addict who actively engages in CBT with a qualified, trained provider may find that their decision-making process is clearer and more effective.