Substance abuse is a complex disease that is estimated to affect upwards of 20 million Americans. However, only a small percentage receive specialized treatment to help them to recover from their condition.

The American Addiction Centers website states that ‘addiction requires individualized treatments and modalities that address the symptoms and underlying causes of the disease, as well as the consequences that substance use has on different areas of a person’s life. This includes their ability to socialize, their physical and mental health, and consequences at work, home, school or with the law’.

While many types of therapy are believed to be effective at helping people to overcome substance abuse, one variety is considered more successful than others. That is cognitive behavior therapy.


Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive-behavioral therapy, also known as CBT, is a popular and effective mental health counseling technique that is widely used in addiction treatment, as well as many other disorders including obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), eating disorders (EDs) and anxiety.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy works by helping patients to realize that their harmful thoughts, emotions, and behaviors aren’t always rational or logical. By understanding why they feel or act a certain way, patients are better able to identify their negative impulses and overcome them, so that they no longer feel the need to self-medicate painful thoughts and feelings through alcohol or drugs.

The process works by continually revisiting painful memories, not to cause further harm, but to gradually reduce the pain that they cause. Their counselor can also help them to develop positive behaviors to replace their drug and alcohol use instead. CBT is particularly good for helping patients overcome key triggers for their substance abuse. This is generally done in three steps:

1. Teaching the patient to correctly identify which circumstances lead to their substance abuse

2. Helping patients to remove themselves from trigger situations whenever they can

3. Using CBT techniques to cope, by addressing and alleviating emotions and thoughts that lead to substance abuse

The format that CBT takes can also vary. If they feel it is beneficial, your counselor may recommend private, 1-1 sessions, or if there are unresolved issues with family or friends that may be contributing to your substance abuse, small group sessions. Many people with addiction issues also benefit from therapy sessions that are held in wider groups of other recovering patients, where they can share stories and see that they aren’t alone. Since every patient is different, exactly what works for one may not be successful in helping another, and it is a case of your counselor working with you to determine which form of therapy will be most effective for you.   


Relapse prevention

The very nature of addiction means that a large percentage of patients with the disease will relapse at some point during their recovery. This number can be as large as 50-60%. Counselors will work with patients to develop a comprehensive relapse prevention plan to help them:

  • Understand warning signs of potential relapse and what they can do to alter their situation

  • Develop a detailed list of family, friends, and counselors that can be used as a support network

  • Make specific lifestyle changes that will prioritize their well-being

If you would like more advice on recovering from substance abuse with counseling, or to schedule an appointment to discuss your concerns, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with Comprehensive Counseling Services, LLC. You can call (850) 688-2244 today to schedule an appointment

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