What is CBT and How Does it Fit Into My Addiction Treatment?
Many people struggling with addiction also struggle with managing emotions like anxiety, sadness, shame, guilt, and anger. These emotions can be linked to irrational negative thoughts about themselves and others.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a form of therapy that assists people in changing their behaviors by reframing their thoughts or cognitions. CBT indicates that certain situations in people’s lives trigger automatic thoughts that elicit intense, overwhelming emotions, and these emotions are then avoided through the use of self-destructive behavior.
The techniques used in our CBT group focus around practicing to reframe our automatic thoughts in order to decrease the intensity of our emotions and ultimately achieve the goal of not repetitively engaging in self-destructive avoidance behaviors. CBT helps us shift or reframe our thinking from our emotional mind to our rational mind. This is an especially important skill to cultivate when healing addiction. Using CBT, triggers and cravings can be successfully navigated.
Key CBT Terms
Trigger situations – Experiences in your day-to-day life that make you really upset or overwhelmed.
Automatic thoughts – The first thoughts you have immediately following a trigger situation.
Cognitive distortions – Initial thoughts that are often extreme and very closely linked to our emotions.
Avoidance behaviors – Any behavior that you engage in to avoid overwhelming negative emotions.
CBT Coping Techniques
- Examine, identify, and label distorted thinking
- Develop more balanced, rational thoughts about yourself, others, and the world
- Build healthier coping skills
- Manage intense emotions
- Become more mindful and accepting
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) Techniques For Healing Addiction
STEP 1: Calm yourself down – Don’t try to think before you are ready to think. If a situation feels overwhelming, you need to first take action to calm down, such as taking 10 deep breaths, calling a friend, going for a walk, listening to music, or taking a shower.
STEP 2: Recognize triggering thoughts – Often the intense feelings that we experience are actually in response to very specific automatic thoughts. In other words, our feelings are not actually in response to the experiences in our life but to the thoughts that we have about those experiences. Learn more about isolating thoughts about yourself and your addiction in our piece on the stigma of addiction.
STEP 3: Identify cognitive distortions – Extreme thoughts include labeling (“I’m a failure”), fortune telling (“I’ll never get over this depression”), all-or-nothing thinking and overgeneralization (“I never do anything right”). These are called cognitive distortions because they do not factor in all the relevant information. This leads to poor decision-making.
STEP 4: Provide evidence to support or contradict your cognitive distortions – When you look at the evidence, you may realize that some of the baggage from your past holds more weight than the current facts in providing validity for your distorted thoughts. Learn more about healing wounds from past trauma in trauma group therapy.
STEP 5: Reframe your thinking – By reframing your thinking you can immediately shift the intensity of your emotions so you don’t feel the urge to run away or numb overwhelming emotions with drugs and alcohol. By noticing your cognitive distortions and challenging them with constructive thoughts, your perceptions slowly become less threatening and escape becomes less necessary.
Supporting Therapies for CBT at Olympia House
At Olympia House, we believe in finding the right combination of group therapies to suit your needs. Supporting therapies at Olympia House for CBT therapy include:
You have control of your behavior and thoughts. With guidance, you can reshape negative, limiting thoughts to both accept reality while moving into stability and joy. Let Olympia House help in your healing journey. Call (888) 795-1965 today. We serve the East Bay, North Bay, South Bay, and Sacramento areas.