Cognitive-behavioral therapy exercises help individuals address negative thoughts and feelings to overcome addiction. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a psychological treatment widely used today for substance abuse and addiction. CBT teaches individuals in recovery how to recognize connections between thoughts, feelings, and actions and raise awareness of how they impact recovery.
CBT also treats mental health disorders, including the following:
- Anxiety and panic disorders
- Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
- Bipolar disorder
- Borderline personality disorder
- Eating disorders, such as bulimia and anorexia
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
How Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy Exercises Work
Cognitive-behavioral therapy reveals to individuals who practice it that many adverse behaviors and emotions are irrational and that these feelings and actions are primarily based on previous experiences or environmental factors.
When people who experience addiction understand why they feel or act in a specific way and how those feelings and behaviors contribute to substance abuse, they are more adequately equipped to overcome addiction.
Cognitive-behavioral therapists work with persons in recovery from addiction to identify their negative “automatic” thoughts. Automatic thoughts are mental activities that occur in response to a trigger. They manifest in an individual’s mind without conscious thought and are often derived from misconceptions and internalized self-doubt or fear.
Often, individuals try to self-medicate these uncomfortable or painful thoughts and feelings by consuming alcohol or using drugs. By continually recalling and confronting these painful memories with a therapist, recovering addicts can relieve some of the pain induced by them. They can then learn new, healthier behaviors to replace their drug or alcohol abuse.
Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy Exercises and Substance Abuse Treatment
Automatic negative thoughts are often the leading cause of depression and anxiety disorders, which commonly co-occur with addiction. This means that automatic thoughts can make an individual more likely to use intoxicating substances as well.
CBT can help persons defeat drug addiction and alcoholism by doing the following:
- Helping to dismiss the false beliefs and insecurities that contribute to substance abuse
- Providing self-help tools to improve mood
- Teaching effective communication skills
Cognitive-behavioral therapy also helps those in recovery cope with triggers in three fundamental ways, according to NIDA (National Institute on Drug Abuse):
- Recognize – Identify circumstances that contribute to drinking or drug use.
- Avoid – Remove oneself from triggering situations whenever possible and prudent.
- Cope – Make use of CBT exercises to address and lessen unhealthy thoughts and emotions that contribute to substance abuse.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Exercises
Cognitive-behavioral therapists employ specific exercises to help promote addiction recovery. Examples of CBT exercises employed in addiction treatment programs include, but are not limited to, the following:
Recording Thoughts – Recovering addicts evaluate automatic adverse thoughts and seek objective evidence that supports and disproves those thoughts. They record and compare evidence for and against their automatic thoughts. The objective is to help the individual think more balanced, rational, and less self-effacing thoughts by examining what they are thinking and feeling.
Behavioral Exercises – Behavioral exercises contradict unhealthy thoughts against healthy ones to identify which is more effective in changing behavior. Most people respond better to self-kindness than to self-criticism. Behavioral exercises are about ascertaining what approach works best for the individual.
Imagery-Based Exposure – In this exercise, addicts and alcoholics in recovery recall a memory that produces powerful negative feelings. They pay attention to each sight, sound, thought, and emotion during that moment. By repeatedly recalling unpleasant memories, over time, the addicted individual can decrease their anxiety.
Pleasant Activity Schedule – This exercise involves devising a weekly list of healthy and enjoyable activities to split up daily routines. These tasks should be relatively easy to perform while promoting positive emotions. Scheduling these enjoyable activities reduces negative automatic thoughts and the corresponding need to use drugs or drink alcohol.
Getting Treatment for Addiction
Overcoming addiction usually requires help from many people and resources. Professional addiction treatment can effectively assist individuals in achieving sobriety and preventing relapse.
Just Believe Recovery employs addiction specialists who teach the skills necessary to sustain long-term recovery. Using a comprehensive approach, we provide each individual we treat with all the tools, support, and education they need to get started down the path to recovery and sustain long-term health and wellness.
In addition to cognitive-behavioral therapy, we offer individual and family counseling, peer group support, health and wellness education, substance abuse education, art and music therapy, aftercare planning, and more.