cognitive behavioral therapy

What Is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Addiction?

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a talk therapy technique that some addiction treatment programs utilize. This type of therapy is considered to be psychotherapy. While in CBT, recovering individuals work through a structured addiction recovery program alongside a psychotherapist, therapist, or mental health counselor. Those in recovery attend numerous behavioral modification therapy sessions.

This type of behavioral therapy helps the person struggling with substance addiction to become cognizant of their negative or harmful thinking patterns and behaviors. This then enables individuals to begin viewing stressful situations and triggers with a clearer mind. It also helps them to have a much more effective response to the situation they are facing, whether it is something from the past or a present issue or concern. 

Cognitive behavioral therapy is an extremely beneficial way to treat addiction as well as various other mental health issues and disorders in all types of individuals. This technique works in combination with other addiction therapies during recovery to help achieve true behavior modification and give the best chance at lasting sobriety and improved mental health. 

Cognitive behavioral therapy may improve the following health challenges including but not limited to:

  • Bipolar 
  • Mania
  • Anxiety 
  • Phobias
  • Depression
  • Eating disorders
  • Sleep disorders
  • Schizophrenia
  • Alcohol and/or drug abuse and/or addiction
  • Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD)
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Sexual dysfunctions and/or disorders

Cognitive behavioral therapy may address emotional challenges by helping to develop skills that help in some ways including but not limited to:

  • Emotion management
  • Cope with death, loss and/or grief
  • Manage mental illness symptoms
  • Coping skills for medical illnesses
  • Relapse prevention of mental illness symptoms
  • Coping techniques for triggers or stressful situations
  • Manage chronic pain and/or other physical symptoms
  • Improved personal relationships and relationship conflicts
  • Overcome psychological trauma from violence and/or abuse

What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Meant to Accomplish?

Typically, there is minimal risk when going through cognitive behavioral therapy during addiction recovery treatment. However, it can bring up very sensitive and painful emotions and will likely feel unpleasant during your addiction recovery.

Exposure therapy, a method that cognitive behavioral therapists during use addiction treatment, will require you to face instances and circumstances in your life that you would typically avoid. Overcoming fears, irrational and/or valid, is one of the main focuses of cognitive behavioral therapy for addiction. 

These challenging feelings are normal and to be expected. However, when you work with our medical professionals at North Jersey Recovery Center, our staff’s goal is to minimize discomfort and equip you with the coping skills you need to assist you with overcoming fears or negative feelings that can trigger your desire to use and/or abuse substances like drugs or alcohol. 

It is very important to treat the addiction aspect of your recovery program at the same time as receiving cognitive behavioral therapy. It is a commonly held belief within the mental health community that substance abuse or addiction can be a side effect to poor mental health, hence the need to access the care that is necessary during addiction recovery.

What to Expect in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy for addiction usually takes place in an individual therapy setting. But it can also be part of group therapy sessions. It can include family, friends, as well as other individuals in the addiction recovery program that share the addiction and/or mental health struggle. In addition, we offer various online addiction therapy sessions and recovery meetings that give you quicker and easier access while involved in addiction treatment. 

In the beginning, your behavioral therapist will get a general understanding of you as an individual and will discuss with you what issues you would like to focus on. From there, an addiction treatment program using cognitive behavioral therapy methods to address past and current issues and triggers.

This leads to a more comprehensive understanding of your particular needs. In turn, this enables the treatment staff to give you the best chance at lasting sobriety and overall, improved mental health. While in CBT, your behavioral therapist may recommend alternative addiction treatments like medication and even holistic addiction treatments. 

Additionally, your behavioral therapist will assist you in opening up about your negative feelings or thoughts during your recovery treatment. It is very common for people to feel uncomfortable about discussing sensitive topics. But, you can rest assured that our behavioral therapists are fully medically trained and they are here to provide you with comfort and guidance. Their goal is to help boost your confidence which will eventually make it easier for you to “open up”.

Cognitive behavioral therapy for addiction is based on setting goals for individual achievement. You may need to do some reading, therapeutic practices, and even homework to assist you during your behavioral therapy sessions. This works to set milestones for achievement and help to modify behavior in a self-rewarding structure. 

Steps included in cognitive behavioral therapy for addiction may include but are not limited to:

  • Identify – This step is meant to pinpoint the conditions or situations that currently affect you or have affected you in the past that have negative effects and/or emotions. These issues range from grief, loss, divorce or relationship issues, family problems, childhood trauma, a chronic or serious medical condition, anger problems, or any negative effects or side effects of a mental health issue.

Your behavioral therapist will work with you to determine what your focus should be on and to assist you in setting goals to maintain a life of sobriety and improve your mental health. 

  • Awareness – This step helps individuals to learn to be cognizant of their emotions, beliefs, and thoughts when facing life’s challenges and issues. At this stage, your behavioral therapist will hone your skills during talk therapy by discussing your emotions during times of stress or high emotions.

A diary or journal is often used to help you express these feelings. This awareness helps to modify future behavior by encouraging more mindful behavior. 

  • Recognize – This step encourages and assists people in identifying false thinking or negative mindsets. While in treatment, you will learn to analyze your patterns of behavior and thinking since these often lead to deeper problems. You will be encouraged to pay close attention to your behavioral, emotional, and physical responses during an emotional or physical struggle.
  • Modify – This component of treatment helps you to adjust those false thinking and negative thoughts. During this final step, you will find that your behavioral therapist will stimulate your mind by having you take a look at how you view certain situations; based on facts or false thinking?

These negative behaviors are not learned overnight so depending on how long you have battled with this type of negative or false thinking, it will often determine the length of time you spend in cognitive behavioral therapy. 

How Long Does Cognitive Behavioral Therapy And Addiction Counseling Last?

Cognitive behavioral therapy for addiction is typically applied on a short term basis. However, our addiction recovery program is designed for the individual and sometimes long term care is necessary.

Short-term therapy will typically last between five (5) to twenty (20) sessions. But again, some people continue with cognitive behavioral therapy sessions for addiction as a way to maintain their sobriety and continue to improve their mental health. 

Some considered factors of how many cognitive behavioral therapy sessions may include but are not limited:

  • Stress levels
  • Goal and/or therapy progression
  • Family and/or other support system structure
  • The severity of your addiction and/or mental health symptoms
  • Length of time in dealing with your situation and/or symptoms

The Results of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy for addiction is not necessarily a cure for your substance dependence or emotional challenges. Neither CBT nor any other type of therapy can be considered as the “magic wand” that will make negative situations caused by addiction or the painful circumstances of your life’s experiences go away.

However, if you listen to and work along with your behavioral therapist, they can assist you in learning how to cope with these difficult situations in a healthier manner resulting in better treatment of yourself and a healthier way of life. 

Are You Interested in Learning More About Cognitive Behavioral Therapy For Addiction? Let Us Help!

We understand that addiction recovery is a personal journey that doesn’t happen overnight. Our dedicated staff at North Jersey Recovery Center is committed to assisting our clients in any way we can. If you or a loved one are seeking quality addiction treatment, like cognitive behavioral therapy, we are available around-the-clock to answer any questions you might have so contact us today and let us help!

Reviewed for Medical & Clinical Accuracy by Brian Ostertag

brian-ostertag-150x150Brian Ostertag, BA, MA, LCADC, CCS, is the Clinical Director for North Jersey Recovery Center. Brian is a compassionate leader with a desire to see others exceed, and who believes that people want to work hard at something they find meaningful and believe in. He is a strong addiction services professional with degrees in Psychology Addiction Studies, and Pastoral Counseling.