While exploring treatment options for substance use disorders, one of the most recommended suggestions is Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT). For the past 40 years, CBT has emerged as one of the strongest, evidence-supported forms of treatment for various mental health conditions. It has been an integral part of comprehensive programs found in dual diagnosis treatment centers CA. 
CBT focuses on how someone thinks and feels about their addiction and how those emotions and behaviors have influenced substance abuse. To truly “break the cycle,” changes are necessary not only for how one feels but also how one acts. At its core, Cognitive Behavior Therapy is committed to helping people transform their relationship with their emotions and intrusive thoughts. Through this, they can lead more of a purpose-driven life through conscious action.
The Basics of Cognitive Behavior Therapy
Like all forms of psychotherapy, CBT has some core tenets therapists rely on to help their clients. Although it is highly personal for everyone, CBT’s roots provide a solid framework for change and growth.
Identify Unhealthy Thinking Tendencies
If how someone thinks impacts how they live, how does a negative thought influence how they act? One of the first things a therapist helps their client do in CBT is identifying how their thoughts form and what actions they cause. CBT’s cognitive focus is all about identifying different types of unhelpful thought patterns, called “cognitive distortions.” Recognizing the influence thoughts have over someone’s mental health and life is an important first step.
For example, all-or-nothing thought patterns distort an individual’s decision-making ability, causing one to think in only black-or-white terms. They see themselves as either good or bad, seeing their recovery only through a lens of either total success or complete failure. This mentality can worsen feelings of depression and fuel anxiety. Ultimately, it can cause people to take less action than if they believed meaningful growth happened in small steps rather than major, life-changing moments.
Examples of Cognitive Distortions
Other examples of cognitive distortions include:
- Catastrophizing: Expecting the worst-case scenario always to be the outcome of a situation.
- Personalization: Taking things personally and drawing conclusions about yourself as a result.
- Overgeneralization: Concluding outcomes are based on emotion rather than real proof.
- Filtering: Only seeing the negative, reinforcing an unhelpful view of the world and self.
In short, cognitive therapy teaches one is not just their own thoughts. Thoughts cannot always be controlled, but you can learn to recognize when they are not true or unhealthy. In doing so, the ability to respond to unhealthy thoughts becomes possible.
Taking a logical rather than an emotional approach to analyzing one’s thoughts provides a better position to see how thoughts do not have to dictate actions. With the help of dual diagnosis treatment centers CA, this can make the difference between giving up on recovery because of low self-esteem or self-worth or pushing forward despite anxiety, fear, and doubt because the outcomes are within reach.
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Addressing Avoidant or Damaging Behaviors
People develop different ways of coping with their heaviest emotions and thoughts. When such behaviors cause problems, like substance abuse, people may become caught in a cycle that repeats itself seemingly indefinitely. The same behaviors used to deal with their problems may actually be causing them. CBT helps recognize these actions and develop healthier alternatives. When enrolled in a dual diagnosis treatment program CA, clients can find ways to address substance abuse and recognize its relationship to other mental health problems.
Addiction fuels mental illness and vice-versa. A cognitive-behavioral approach to treatment stops the cycle by recognizing the relationship between actions, emotions, thoughts, and responses. A path of discovery is taught to identify that choices are available. The ability exists to reach meaningful goals in life rather than merely reacting to how one feels.
Some therapy is not rewarding to clients because it may feel too passive. While it may help talk about problems in a session, a person’s life may not change when they are back in their own lives, facing the same problems, temptations, and negative feelings.
CBT is rooted in the goals set with a therapist who provides accountability. These goals can change as an individual grows. But the therapeutic relationship’s core will always be centered around making sure the individual’s goals are being met. Goals may include managing anger better, healthily coping with depressive symptoms, or learning how to deal with stress in a non-self-destructive way.
Dual Diagnosis Treatment Centers CA Offer Help
Whether you have been struggling with substance abuse yourself or know someone who has, it is never too late to seek help. Nor does it matter how long the struggle with addiction has been fought.
Cognitive Behavior Therapy coupled with other addiction treatment therapies and services can help gain the insight needed to create lasting change while cleansing the body of toxins. If you or a loved one struggles with a substance abuse disorder, contact Ocean Hills Recovery today.
About the author:
Nicole earned her doctoral degree in Psychology with an emphasis on marriage and family therapy at California School of Professional Psychology. Her doctoral thesis was a grounded theory study exploring the role of alienation and connectedness in the life course of addiction. She specializes in treating addiction and trauma. She is certified in DBT and EMDR, two of the most highly regarded evidence-based methods in psychotherapy. Dr. Doss is a strong LGBT advocate and provides open and affirming support to her LGBT clients.
Dr. Doss’s earlier education included graduating cum laude from the University of California, Irvine in June of 2007 with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology. While there, she received honors recognition by Psi Chi and Golden Key honor societies.
Nicole has been working with alcoholics and addicts in our California drug and alcohol rehab center as an advisor and counselor for many years. She is passionate about providing quality counseling and care to her clients. Her main focus is on integrating the 12 Step and disease models of addiction with experiential therapeutic theory. She is married to Greg; they have two adorable sons together and an energetic yellow Labrador Retriever.