Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Opiate Addiction

There are many substances to which a person could become addicted. In fact, there are even many behaviors to which a person could become addicted, but more often than not we associate addiction with alcohol and drugs. Moreover, it seems that each decade brings with it a spike in rates of addiction to some harmful substance. People who begin to experiment with the popular new drug soon fall under its thrall, losing themselves to its astonishing power. As a result, their physical health declines, they lose jobs and financial stability, relationships and prospects. Meanwhile, their loved ones have a front-row seat to their profound deterioration.
In the 1990s, a medication called OxyContin was released, reported to be a highly potent painkiller with very few adverse side effects and little addictive potential. As doctors began prescribing OxyContin liberally, individuals quickly found that the drug could be abused, giving them an intense, euphoric high. In a matter of a decade, addiction rates skyrocketed. By 2012, more than 15,000 Americans were dying each year due to painkiller overdose. Fortunately, addiction treatment programs are a way for individuals who are addicted to opiate painkillers to regain their independence and health. The majority of addiction treatment programs are based on psychotherapy and counseling, but there are different forms or modes of counseling that can be highly beneficial. Each form is intended to treat specific components or symptoms of addiction, oftentimes with a focus on underlying factors that contributed to the development and longevity of one’s addiction.

What Exactly is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?

woman in cbt

When we think of addiction, oftentimes we picture a patient lying on a couch and talking about his or her childhood while a therapist sits nearby and listens. However, we don’t normally think about the many different therapeutic techniques that a therapist can use when counseling a patient. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is one of the most well-known and widely used therapeutic modalities that focuses on the connections between an individual’s cognitions—patterns of thought, beliefs, attitudes, and emotions—and his or her behaviors. When using cognitive behavioral therapy, therapists help patients to identify the causes or underlying origins of harmful, self-destructive, dysfunctional behaviors in order to modify them and boost happiness and overall well-being.

In practice, cognitive behavioral therapy is most effective as a form of short-term treatment. Being goal-oriented in nature, this therapeutic modality is designed to help patients to overcome negative thought patterns and behaviors, restructuring them to be more constructive and positive. Although it was initially used to treat symptoms of depression as well as alcoholism, cognitive behavioral therapy has also been proven effective at treating insomnia, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, eating disorders, and a number of other disorders. Additionally, studies have shown that individuals who undergo cognitive behavioral therapy exhibit changes in brain activity according to brain imaging scans, which suggests that cognitive behavioral therapy significantly improves cognitive capacity and ability. Due to a large amount of data available on cognitive behavioral therapy, it remains a favorite psychotherapeutic modality for a variety of applications.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Opiate Addiction

In terms of addiction treatment, cognitive behavioral therapy has become one of the primary techniques used in both monotherapies as well as incorporated as a central part of combination treatment programs. Substance abuse is a behavior that defies logic; occurring alongside and because of physical dependence, individuals experience psychological dependency, causing dysfunctional behavior in which individuals act against their best interests. In practice, this is why individuals continue to abuse opiates despite the consequences that the behavior has on their health, finances, relationships, opportunities, and so on.

At the outset of treatment, one aspect in which cognitive behavioral therapy is helpful is in enhancing an opiate addict’s motivation to become sober. Oftentimes addicts become ambivalent about substance abuse or recovery, which results in their not devoting as much effort to recovery as they could. Cognitive behavioral therapy can be used to identify and overcome such ambivalence by enhancing the individual’s motivation to recover. Another way that cognitive behavioral therapy is helpful is in countering the powerful reinforcing effect of opiates, which can occur by introducing non-opiate reinforcements—such as praise, baked goods, or some other rewards—when an individual can demonstrate abstinence from opiates or some other improvement. Additionally, cognitive behavioral therapy has proven helpful as a relapse prevention tool, allowing individuals to replace the abuse of opiates with coping strategies that are harmful or destructive.

Let Recovery Hub Help You Return to Health & Happiness

Overcoming opiates may not be easy, but it’s possible using cognitive behavioral therapy as well as other evidence-based treatments. Individuals who suffer from addiction to opiates or another substance have many recovery options available. For more information about cognitive behavioral therapy or other forms of rehabilitative therapy, call Recovery Hub at 1-888-220-4352 today. A new life of sobriety, health, and happiness is only one phone call away.

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