For many people, addiction treatment centers treat only the physical aspects of addiction. In some respects, this is true. Qualified medical professionals at rehab centers can help those struggling through substance abuse with the stages of withdrawal and the cravings that return from time to time. With effective medications that ease the pain of withdrawal, any person who has made the choice to turn away from substance abuse and live a healthier life can get the assistance he or she needs at treatment centers. However, addiction is often a more systemic issue than just a physical one. The reasons that drove a person to become dependent on drugs or alcohol need to be treated just as seriously as the physical symptoms of the condition. For this goal, medications are not much help. Instead, cognitive behavioral therapy is often used in treatment centers to help those working through recovery identify the factors that led them to substance abuse in the first place. If medications help people through the withdrawal stages of the recovery process, then therapy helps them for the rest of their lives.
Understanding Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Outside of addiction treatment, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy methods have been used by qualified therapists since they were first developed in the 1960s. Psych Central explained that CBT is centered around the assumption that every person is constantly conducting external and internal dialogs. An external dialog might be a conversation with a friend, while an internal one may be focused on the private thoughts of how the friend is judging the other person, assumptions on what the friend is thinking and other examples of anxious, automatic thoughts. When applied to addiction treatment, CBT emphasizes that while important, events and actions do not force an individual to behave a certain way. Rather, the meanings that people ascribe to them are the cause of problematic behaviors. A person struggling through substance abuse may think that because her or she has upset so many others with his or her actions, there is no way to repair those relationships. This negative thinking eventually leads to more destructive behavior. It is often the goal of CBT programs to disrupt this line of negative thinking. If the individual can be made aware of where these automatically occurring thoughts are coming from, then the therapist may be able to address them with the patient.
How Cognitive Behavioral Therapy works
Though the goals of CBT treatment programs may be the same, the approaches used may vary on a case-by-case basis. The American Psychological Association explained that most CBT sessions will be more structured than the traditional conception of a therapist and a patient on a couch talking absentmindedly. A CBT treatment plan forefronts specific goals that patients may want to address over the course of the program. For those working through recovery, this may be staying sober or repairing relationships. However, CBT often goes deeper into the minds of patients. Therapists may push patients to be as demonstrative as possible with their opinions on their life – if there is something that is making them particularly unhappy or unfulfilled, that should be addressed first. With an approach that seeks to treat the underlying emotional causes of substance abuse, CBT treatment is a critical part of the recovery process. Combined with medications to ease the physical pains of withdrawal from substance abuse, CBT completes a comprehensive picture of the treatment process. Any person who is struggling with a history of substance abuse should seek help from these qualified therapists who can help that person identify ways to improve his or her life.