As part of my individualized treatment approach, I use cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) with clients as a way to help them identify self-defeating thoughts and behaviors, which may often drive their addiction.
It’s common for individuals struggling with substance use disorder to have self-sabotaging, negative thinking. Cognitive behavioral therapy addresses harmful thought patterns, which help clients recognize their ability to practice alternative ways of thinking, and regulates distressing emotions and destructive behavior. As a research-based treatment modality, cognitive behavioral therapy is an effective treatment for substance abuse.
Cognitive behavioral therapy helps clients formulate coping strategies to handle potential stressors or difficulties following addiction treatment.
“Negative thinking is an obstacle to self—change.” – Cognitive Therapy Guide Health Professional Resource
According to the Cognitive Therapy Guide, a resource guide to Cognitive Therapy for Health Professionals, negative thinking is an obstacle to self-change. All-or-nothing (Black & White) thinking is one of the most frequently encountered types of negative thinking.
Negative thinking patterns are one cause of many problems including anxiety, depression, and addiction.
Powerful, destructive thoughts are common in individuals struggling with substance abuse and all-or-nothing thinking contributes to their sense of powerlessness and lack of control over their addiction behavior. An example of all-or-nothing thinking is, “I have to do things perfectly, because anything less than perfect is a failure.” Cognitive behavioral therapy can help clients understand negative thinking and develop healthier thinking, which they can incorporate it into their lives.
Potential Obstacles to Addiction Treatment
Two of the most common obstacles for clients seeking addiction treatment are ambivalence/uncertainty and the fear of change. Frequently, according to the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), individuals struggling with addiction are usually aware of the dangers of their substance-using behavior but continue to use anyway. These experiences are normal and despite the health risks and consequences of substance use, client feelings of ambivalence arise. This is a natural reaction.
For some clients with substance abuse issues, there is an internal struggle of “wants” — they want to stop using, but at the same time, they don’t want to.
Uncertainty about the severity of their substance use may be related to the client’s motivation to change. Ambivalence should not be interpreted as denial or resistance and utilizing motivational interviewing can facilitate exploration of stage-specific motivational conflicts that can potentially hinder further progress.
“You must master a new way to think before you can master a new way to be.” – Marianne Williamson