Can CBT be used to treat addictions?
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a widely-used therapeutic intervention that is based on the premise that addictions, including alcohol and drug addictions, broader behavioural addictions, and other mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety and stress, arise and are exacerbated by a series of dysfunctional and deeply-ingrained thought patterns. These negative thought processes and beliefs can undermine your efforts to make healthy choices, and are characteristic symptoms of substance abuse, behavioural addictions and other mental health challenges.
Destructive thought patterns and beliefs can often cause you to doubt your ability to recover; they are usually accompanied by an overall sense of hopelessness. However, our experts at Priory are able to use CBT to address and interrupt these negative thought patterns, change the way that you respond to stress, learn new ways of thinking, and empower you to develop the tools that you need to resume a healthy, fulfilling and addiction-free life.
How does CBT work as an addiction treatment?
Supporters of cognitive behavioural therapy believe that in order to change a person’s behaviour, you must first change their thoughts. In other words, they believe that by taking the time to gain insight into your beliefs, you can increase your health and wellbeing simply by changing the way that you think and respond to situations.
Our CBT specialists at Priory will work closely with you to identify negative thought patterns and negative beliefs that are likely contributing to your substance or behavioural addiction. By examining negative aspects of your thinking, your therapist will be able to identify specific areas to focus on in treatment.
Once you have identified the specific set of destructive thought patterns that have allowed the cycle of addiction to develop and continue in your life, our Priory specialists will be able to teach you how to replace those dysfunctional beliefs with more positive ones. Sometimes, these negative beliefs stem from the earliest days of childhood, and are therefore very ingrained into your consciousness. For some, these thought patterns stem from coping skills that are no longer functional or healthy in adult life. By acknowledging these mistaken beliefs, you will be empowered to change your thinking in the present, leave destructive behavioural patterns in the past, and take steps towards a full and lasting recovery from your addiction.
What are the benefits of CBT?
CBT is a flexible, adaptable treatment tool that has been used successfully in addiction programmes all around the world. It can be used either in individual or group therapy settings, and has been found to be highly effective in the treatment of addictions and addictive behaviours. CBT is evidence-based, recovery-focused, and produces a whole host of short and long-term benefits:
- CBT acknowledges the past but also looks towards the future, meaning that whilst your old ways of thinking will be reviewed and examined, you will be doing so in order to facilitate positive change in the present
- Cognitive behavioural therapy involves the use of homework, so you can expect to do the 'work' of CBT outside your therapy sessions, applying the insight that you have gained in your daily life
- By interrupting patterns of negative thinking with CBT, you will be able to alter the behaviours and feelings associated with those thoughts, resulting in a greater capacity for coping with stress and making healthy choices in the future
- By addressing and confronting self-defeating beliefs, you will gain healthier levels of self-awareness and self-esteem that will assist you in building a strong foundation for addiction recovery
For more information on the treatment that we can offer for addictions at Priory, you can visit our approach to addiction treatment page.
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