Quitting Alcohol Isn’t Easy but Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Plays a Huge Role in A Successful Recovery

By March 10, 2020Uncategorized

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) was developed as a way to implement cognitive and behavioral changes to identify and correct problematic behaviors. Typical goals of CBT are to be able to anticipate, and identify, behavioral and cognitive problems, increasing clients’ self-control by developing effective coping strategies, and educate the client on maladaptive thinking and behaviors and promote positive change.

Understanding Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Techniques are utilized to exploring positive and negative consequences of problematic behaviors such as the negative consequences of continued alcohol use and abuse. Self-monitoring is also utilized in CBT to recognize cravings early, and identifying trigger situations that might increase the addicts’ risk for use, and developing positive strategies for coping with urges and triggers, as well as managing high-risk behaviors.

Develop Better Habits with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a form of psychotherapy. The idea is that your thinking patterns can affect your emotions and your behavior. To treat substance use disorders, you’ll need to change the way that you think and behave. This form of therapy was created by a psychiatrist named Aaron Beck in the 1960s. However, the therapy that is practiced today incorporates other techniques practiced by certified counselors who specialize in addiction disorders.

CBT helps patients identify, understand and even deal with the emotions behind their thoughts. This treatment combines both cognitive therapy and behavioral techniques. Patients become more self-aware of their emotions and their actions. They are then able to modify their behavior. With constant practice, their behaviors and reactions to stimuli become a habit. They then use this habit to recover from an addiction.

CBT will usually incorporate both a “multimodal therapy” and a rational-emotive behavioral therapy. It’s also very client-recovery centered for those dealing with alcohol and other addiction challenges. This is one of the many therapeutic approaches that are the most hands-on. Licensed therapists work with alcohol and drug abusers to change their way of thinking. This addiction recovery process will typically take many therapy sessions and is mid to longer term.

Some Crucial CBT Techniques and Tools for Alcoholics

This type of treatment relies on several different techniques. Each patient and therapist may prefer one technique over another. It may take some time for patients to master different alcohol recovery tools. Some of the most popular tools include:

  • Journaling. Writing down one’s emotions and thoughts can prove to very useful. Many patients use journaling to analyze their behaviors. They can then identify harmful behaviors and think of positive solutions for them.
  • Progressive Muscle Relaxation. One of the main reasons why most addicts struggle to get sober is because they can’t calm down their emotions. They often give in to cravings and urges. They also look for escapes when faced with stressful situations. CBT teaches patients how to relax by de-escalating situations. One of the easiest ways to relax is to relax one muscle group at a time. When drug and alcohol abusers are relaxed, they tend to make more logical decisions.
  • Interoceptive Exposure. Many alcoholics are afraid of certain situations. Fear can drive abuse. To get over their fear, CBT may expose patients to certain stimuli when they are in a safe environment. This teaches patients that there’s actually nothing to be afraid of. This CBT technique is a powerful coping strategy.

The unique tools in CBT can help those with a co-occurring disorder. Those struggling with a mental illness or a mental health disorder may benefit from this treatment as well. They learn how to modulate and regulate their own thinking to treat depression and anxiety disorders.

Use of CBT For Alcoholism Treatment

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in recovery from alcoholism includes various interventions, which can be used individually or in group settings, especially in alcohol abuse recovery programs.

One of the interventions is Motivational Interventions. This is where the counselor will address the motivational barriers, or treatment interfering behaviors, to change and recovery. It targets client’s ambivalence toward behavior change in regards to alcohol abuse and recovery. The motivation to overcome alcohol abuse by helping the person to live in the now and focusing on how they want to live.

This therapy involves structured conversations with therapists, which help clients increase CBT skills and tools. When the addict is in engaging their addiction, unhealthy, high-risk behaviors can be all consuming. Homework assignments and constant attention to the therapy process of learning sober behaviors are integral to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.

CBT Treatment for Relapse Prevention

Relapse Prevention is a variant of CBT treatment. This therapy focuses on the identification and prevention of high-risk situations the alcoholics might encounter. This could be a favorite drinking establishment, or friends and acquaintances who have been long-term “drinking buddies”.

This therapy includes challenge the client’s expectation of their perceived positive effects of alcohol will have coupled with psychoeducation to help the client make an educated choice in a high-risk situation.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy includes learning and unlearning behaviors within the addiction. CBT is an all-immersive program that works on changing belief systems and behaviorally working to change responses to triggers both internally and externally.

These behavioral therapies and treatments can be particularly effective when coupled with pharmaceutical treatments to help reduce the effects of withdrawal. Pharmaceutical treatment can help the client get a few weeks of sobriety and take the ‘edge off’ of the initial recovery processes.

Effectiveness of CBT in recovery from alcoholism focuses on studying the thought patterns to help introspection of self, both negative and positive, the world, and future planning. Individuals involved in CBT will learn to identify cognitive distortions which cloud a person’s world view. Some distortions include all or nothing thinking where the person sees situation or event in either “black or white.”

Integrating CBT in Alcoholism Treatment

In CBT and alcoholism, the focus is on specific, attainable goals. Each session has a specific objective. The goal is to help the individual formulate a goal and a way to obtain that goal with healthy tools and skills. CBT also works on educating the individual on life skills to create their own toolbelt for success.

Rational thinking is also a part of this process where thoughts and actions are based on real, functional ideas, and to question what is happening in the person’s environment to make appropriate and rational decisions. This is extremely useful in triggering situations where oftentimes during the addiction, the addict was acting on highly emotional states, rather than rationality.

Overgeneralization or viewing a recent event as negative or a never-ending pattern of defeat. A “mental filter” is when a person only thinks about the negatives. Disqualifying the positive where only believing that “positives don’t count” because of another force. Jumping to conclusions where individuals tend to “mind read” or assume something will happen or has happened and it is true, whether or not it is. Within Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, the belief is that changing your thoughts will lead to more positive thinking and improved emotions which in turn change addictive behaviors.

Effectiveness of CBT in recovery from alcoholism includes various components which utilize cognitive and behavioral changes, incentives and rewards, motivational drives, as well as beliefs for future recovery. CBT provides a support network for the recovering alcoholic to help navigate through triggering situations.

And lastly, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy provided specifically by licensed professionals helps the individual with positive thinking which can in turn foster increased levels of self-confidence and hope. CBT aids the individual in withstanding peer pressure and recognizing stressors, the therapy is also relatively cost effective, and can also aid in keeping to more normalized activities of daily living and routine.

In conclusion, CBT can benefit the recovering addict significantly as it address the emotions and thoughts of destructive alcohol addiction.

If you are an alcoholic, a recovering alcoholic, or know someone who has challenges with alcohol addictions, please do not wait. For more information and appointments, please contact the highly experienced team of professionals at Foundation Counseling today.

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