Recovering from drug or alcohol addiction requires refraining from addictive substances and making positive mental and behavioral changes. But uprooting habits, changing the way you think, and developing new patterns of behavior can feel like an uphill battle, especially if you’re trying to make these kinds of changes on your own. Luckily, most addiction treatment programs include behavioral therapy as part of the recovery process.
Working with a therapist can help you pinpoint destructive thoughts, adopt healthier ways of thinking, and develop life skills needed to stay sober and drug-free. Therapy can also help you take charge of your own sobriety and help you stay motivated when the recovery process gets hard. Different recovery programs offer different types of therapy, but cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), contingency management (CM), and 12-step facilitation are some of the most common and effective therapy methods used to treat addiction.
Effective Behavioral Therapy Techniques For Addiction
CBT, CM, and 12-step facilitation have different approaches to treating addiction. CBT focuses on how thoughts influence behavior. CM rewards you for making positive changes in your life. 12-step facilitation therapy helps you accept your addiction challenges, surrender to the recovery process, and become an active participant in your local recovery community. Despite their differences, each method of therapy helps prevent relapse, making them incredibly effective at treating addiction and maintaining long-term recovery.
1. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive behavioral therapy is based on the core belief that what you think determines how you behave. As such, this type of therapy focuses on helping you identify and change destructive, disturbing, and harmful thought patterns. As you learn to change negative beliefs and feelings into healthy constructive thoughts, you feel less compelled to use addictive substances like drugs and alcohol to cope with life’s difficulties. CBT therapy can help you face negative beliefs about yourself and challenge self-defeating thoughts by relying on coping skills such as:
- Brainstorming solutions
- Writing positive self-statements
- Restructuring and reframing negative ideas
- Role-playing to help prepare you for potentially problematic situations
What Makes CBT Effective?
Cognitive behavioral therapy helps effectively treat substance use disorders by using a wide range of therapies to address troubling thought patterns that may lead to addictive behavior. CBT therapy also aids the recovery process by helping people with addiction challenges deal with past trauma.
- There are many different types of CBT. Cognitive behavioral therapy includes a number of techniques and approaches that focus on different ways to combat negative feelings, harmful thoughts, and challenging situations that can lead to substance use.
- Cognitive therapy primarily deals with changing distorted thinking patterns, emotional responses, and behaviors.
- Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) also focuses on thoughts and behaviors but emphasizes emotional regulation. Mindfulness is a key coping strategy learned in DBT.
- Multimodal therapy focuses on improving 7 different but interconnected areas of life: actions, feelings, senses, imagination, thinking, socialization, and physical health.
- Rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT) deals with identifying and correcting irrational beliefs.
- CBT works quickly. CBT can produce positive change in a short period of time. A full CBT cycle, which is typically 10 to 20 sessions, can yield long-lasting positive change. In fact, one study revealed that 60% of people with a cocaine dependency had clean toxicology tests 52 weeks after completing cognitive behavioral therapy.
- CBT can help you deal with past traumas. CBT helps dispel false beliefs and ideologies that can feed insecurity and low self-esteem, making it especially effective for people who consume substances as a result of past trauma. Research shows that trauma and other circumstances that negatively affect self-esteem often lead to substance use. Luckily, CBT helps trauma survivors overcome and restructure harmful thoughts and beliefs they hold about themselves.
- Skills learned in CBT can be used for life outside of drug rehab. The skills learned in CBT can be useful for everyday life outside of rehab. Communicating your worries and fears without shame, managing anger, reframing negative situations, creating positive solutions, and resolving conflict in your mind and with others can help you deal with stress, maintain your mental health, and lessen your risk of relapse.
2. Contingency Management
Contingency management, also called motivational incentives, is a type of therapy that uses rewards and incentives to change behavior. This method of therapy is rooted in the belief that when you’re rewarded for doing something, you’re more likely to repeat that action or behavior.
Contingency management can be especially beneficial for people recovering from alcohol, opioid, marijuana, and stimulant use disorders. Instead of relying on these stimulating addictive substances for a “rewarding high,” people participating in contingency management receive small rewards as an alternative “high” while they develop the capacity to resist drugs and alcohol. Oftentimes, CM participants receive vouchers they can exchange for various goods when they produce drug-free urine samples, alcohol-free breath, or attend a training, class, or job interview.
What Makes Contingency Management Effective?
Contingency management is highly effective because it helps rewire the brain’s reward system. Addictive substances can trick the brain into thinking that reward, stimulation, and pleasure only come from drugs and alcohol. Contingency management challenges that notion by providing material rewards that evoke pleasure and stimulate a healthier, alternative and natural “high.” CM therapy also:
- Encourages the continuation of treatment. Recovering from addiction can be a difficult, confusing, frustrating, and emotionally draining process. But receiving rewards for the positive changes you’re making encourages you to continue addiction treatment even when you experience challenges.
- Helps Prevent Relapse. By rewiring your brain to experience natural and healthy forms of pleasure, contingency management lessens your likelihood of relapse. Being reminded of past rewards and anticipating future rewards can also help decrease your chances of relapse.
3. 12-Step Facilitation Therapy
12-step facilitation therapy focuses on treating addiction through 12 structured steps. Each step works together to help you accept the fact that addiction has made your life unmanageable, surrender to the recovery process, and become actively involved in 12-step meetings and a sober community.
What Makes 12-Step Facilitation Therapy Effective?
Structure and peer support help make 12-step facilitation therapy a highly effective tool in the recovery process. 12-step facilitation therapy also helps treat addiction and maintain sobriety by:
- Encouraging honest reflection and introspection. Participating in 12-step facilitation therapy requires you to accept the chronic nature of addiction. By realizing how damaging and uncontrollable addiction can be, 12-step participants are able to reflect on the many ways addiction has damaged, hurt, and negatively impacted their lives, encouraging them to surrender to the recovery process and their need for treatment.
- Providing accountability. Accountability is one of the most beneficial advantages of 12-step facilitation. Working with a healthy, sober sponsor can help you stay accountable to the recovery process. Having a sponsor can also help combat loneliness, isolation, and low self-esteem, all of which often contribute to substance use.
- Creating opportunities for healthy social engagement. In many ways, 12-step facilitation therapy can function like group therapy, providing you opportunities to become socially engaged with a sober community. Spending time with people on similar recovery journeys can help encourage you when you’re feeling down. Being actively involved in a sober community can also provide a non-judgmental environment for you to share the experiences you’re facing on your sobriety journey, making you feel less compelled to relapse when you face difficulties and challenges.
A Spiritually Therapeutic Treatment Experience
Our mission here at Genesis Recovery is to help restore lives that have been harmed by addiction. Our faith-based 12-step program is committed to helping you achieve long-term and permanent sobriety by restoring your physical, emotional, and mental health.
You can overcome addiction, trauma, and mental health issues. Let us help you get there. Call us today at 619-797-7319 if you or a loved one are ready to begin again.