Understanding Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Understanding Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

When it comes to seeking recovery for addiction, the statistics can be daunting. According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, almost 24 million Americans are addicted to alcohol and drugs. That’s approximately one in every 10 Americans over the age of 12 – roughly equal to the entire population of Texas. But only 11 percent of those coping with an addiction receive treatment.

Even for the small number of people that do seek drug and alcohol addiction treatment, the results are often temporary. That’s because many of these programs fail to use proven “evidence-based” methods to deal with the factors that underlie addiction and set off relapse1.

Studies reveal that most drug and alcohol treatment programs and therapies, including many in the Austin area, are rooted in outdated methods instead of newer evidence-based approaches. Research indicates that most people typically do more research when shopping for a new car than when seeking treatment for addiction. As a result, only a small fraction of individuals receive interventions or treatment consistent with evidence-based knowledge about what works.

What are evidence-based practices?

Evidence-based practices (EBPs), like those used at Rock Springs Hospital, are treatments that have been researched academically or scientifically, been proven effective, and replicated by more than one investigation or study. This model integrates medically researched evidence with individual patient values and the clinical experience of the provider. Evidence-based treatment practices are meant to make treatment more effective for more people by using scientifically proven methods and research.

How are EBPs better than other practices for treating addiction?

Traditional therapies usually rely more heavily on the relationship between therapist and patient and less on scientific evidence of proven practices. Most EBPs on the other hand, have been studied in several large-scale clinical trials, involving thousands of patients and entail careful comparison of the effects of EBPs versus other types of treatments, taking into account scientific evidence and risk factors.

The results of extensive evidence-based research are usually used to produce a plan that is replicable and standardized. Many EBPs have thorough written instructions and the necessary tools needed to implement them. Clinicians providing evidence-based practices are typically highly and specially trained and use tools and therapies to help individuals become more self-reliant as they overcome their addiction and restore their quality of life.

The evidence-based treatment method at Rock Springs also attempts to help individuals seeking addiction treatment to improve in all aspects of their lives and not just treat the initial addiction. Many addicts who are also coping with mental health disorders can benefit from EBPs, like Dialectical Behavior Therapy, that work to treat both the disorder and the addiction simultaneously, producing the best results for the long term.

What are the most commonly used EBPs to treat addiction?

The most commonly used evidence-based practice approaches for the treatment of addiction symptoms involve cognitive behavioral therapies (CBT). The efficacy of CBT has been demonstrated for a wide-range of symptoms in adults and adolescents.

What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?

One of the most successful EBPs is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), which is being used to treat a wide variety of mental health disorders from anxiety and depression to addiction and substance abuse. CBT is a therapy that helps individuals discover the relationships that exists between self-destructive behaviors and negative thoughts and feelings.

This type of therapy at Rock Springs is an active intervention that seeks to positively influence brain chemistry by changing the way you think. With extensive scientific research to back it up, CBT has a proven effective evidence-based practice track record in treating addiction.

What are some of the benefits of using CBT to treat addiction?

Cognitive Behavioral Therapies are built upon the idea that a person’s behaviors are learned. If a person learns that drugs and alcohol make them feel better about themselves, they can unlearn this belief structure and instead learn that drugs and alcohol are dangerous and addictive substances that cause irrational thoughts and behaviors. Here are some of the reasons why CBTs are better than traditional therapy methods for treating addiction:-

CBTs are immersive programs: When an individual is caught in the cycle of mental disorders and addiction, these behaviors tend to consume his or her entire life. Constant attention to the process of learning sober habits and rebuilding healthy, holistic lifestyles are integral to the CBT process.

CBTs focus on attainable goals: During each session, the therapist typically focuses on a specific objective. While they don’t explicitly instruct patients on how to reach that objective, they help them formulate their own goals, as well as outline as a pathway to the goal by encouraging empowered thinking.

CBTs promote life skills: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy does not consist of telling a person how they should feel or act, but instead gives them the tools and life skills to determine how they want to feel and how to get there.

CBTs rebuild rational thinking: CBTs recognize that rational thought is based on reality and not a perception of reality. Individuals dealing with addiction often need a little help dealing with their perception of reality. CBTs help them to start thinking logically and realistically again, as well as to ask questions about what is really going on in their lives, rather than basing their decisions on assumptions.

Remember, the most important thing to consider while seeking treatment for drug and alcohol addiction is treatment protocol. For lasting results, you’ll want to choose a facility like Rock Springs that offers evidence-based treatment protocols, supervised by medical practitioners and qualified therapists. At the best treatment facilities and hospitals, they don’t just address an addiction problem. They adopt a holistic approach to addiction recovery that relies on evidence-based programs as the foundation to helping people achieve and maintain addiction-free lives.

Your new life awaits at Rock Springs. Call today to begin your road to sobriety.


1 CASA Columbia, The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, ADDICTION MEDICINE: CLOSING THE GAP BETWEEN SCIENCE AND PRACTICE, 2012 
2 New York Times, 2013, Jane Brody, Effective Addiction Treatment