Addiction is much more than just a physical dependence on a substance. A person struggling with addiction will change their behaviors and attitudes in negative and destructive ways that prolong the addiction, ultimately worsening it.
While detox and medical therapies are critical to overcoming alcoholism and alcohol dependence, cognitive behavioral coping skills therapy for alcohol dependence is incredibly valuable to people in recovery from alcohol abuse.
How Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Works
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is an integral part of modern substance abuse treatment that analyzes the behaviors and attitudes behind a person’s addiction. CBT actually began as a tool to combat “problem drinking” and evolved into a comprehensive treatment tool for people struggling with alcoholism and other addictions.
Overcoming the physical dependence on alcohol is only part of the solution; CBT helps people in recovery analyze their behaviors and develop healthier coping mechanisms.
Breaking Down Behaviors
Most people with an addiction develop habits or rituals in their substance abuse. This could involve:
- Following a certain routine
- Visiting the same hangouts on a consistent basis
- Engaging in substance abuse in response to environmental triggers
Without CBT, a person who enters detox and recovery may rid themselves of alcohol temporarily and then fall back into the same old habits without realizing the downturn is happening. CBT for addiction aims to shed light on the routines, habits and behaviors surrounding a person’s drinking in a constructive and supportive environment.
Once a person learns to objectively analyze his or her past behaviors from this perspective, it becomes easier to see what went wrong and which behaviors encouraged the drinking problem, such as:
- Sensitivity to stressors within one’s daily environment
- A response to negative thoughts and incidents
- A self-defense mechanism to cope with trauma or stress
Uncovering the Root Causes of a Drinking Problem
A person struggling with any type of addiction will subconsciously start justifying and rationalizing his or her addictive behaviors. They may start to feel that inebriation is the only way to cope with certain stressors or to overcome difficult emotional situations.
CBT encourages a deep, introspective look at the root causes of a drinking problem. For example, a person undergoing CBT may realize that a drinking problem started when a relationship fell apart, and that alcohol became a way to manage the negative feelings and self-worth issues that often arise in these difficult situations.
In others, drinking may be a way to overcome personality traits they dislike about themselves. Another example could be a person who suffers from social anxiety and feels like drinking is the only way he or she can be comfortable in social settings.
Situations like these easily develop into habitual behaviors. The person who copes with rejection by resorting to alcohol abuse may grow to respond to all forms of criticism and rejection with the desire to drink. A person who feels compelled to drink as a “social lubricant” may start to automatically associate social settings with drinking, complicating interpersonal relationships and social life.
CBT aims to shed light on these situations so a person struggling with alcohol abuse can realize the destructive nature of these habits and learn healthier coping mechanisms.
Why Is CBT for Addiction to Alcohol So Effective?
Different types of substance abuse have varying effects on the body and mind, but the influence alcohol has on the brain and behavior is much more significant compared to most other addictive substances.
During CBT, alcohol reduction is the ultimate goal, and this form of therapy targets the root causes – instead of just the symptoms. This entails a close examination of past behaviors and developing new, healthier stress-management techniques.
Another reason why CBT is such an effective treatment method for alcohol addiction is because it fosters relapse prevention. The risk of relapse after recovering from alcohol addiction is much higher when compared to most other substances, not to mention that alcohol is legal for adults over 21 and easily accessible throughout the United States.
Not only is the temptation to relapse easy to feel, the mental connections to drinking habits are much harder to break. CBT teaches people in recovery how to manage cravings and break through their previously destructive behaviors to have better chances of avoiding relapse.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy at Reflections Recovery Center
Cognitive behavioral therapy plays a crucial role in the alcohol addiction treatment program at Reflections Recovery Center. Finding the right alcohol rehab facility can be difficult, and the thought of relocating may seem daunting to people struggling with alcohol addiction. Reflections Recovery Center in Prescott, Arizona offers an alternative to traditional clinical settings with a focus on the outdoors and unique therapies.
CBT is a proven effective method for handling the behaviors that drive alcohol abuse, so reach out to Reflections Recovery Center to learn more about CBT and other therapies we use to treat those who are struggling with alcohol addiction.