Cognitive Behavior Therapy in Rehab

Alcohol Rehab programs have a number of mutually supporting elements, for example: an initial process of detoxification, and a system of aftercare and support. All programs, however, have an element of counseling. The most common type of counseling used outside the 12-Step program of Alcoholics Anonymous is based on Cognitive Behavior Therapy. CBT is mostly used to treat depression, phobias, eating and sleeping disorders and so on, but has also been shown to have great value in the treatment of alcohol addiction.

How CBT Works

Cognitive Behavior Therapy was first developed in the early 1960’s by American psychotherapist Aaron T. Beck. Beck realized that a person’s behavior is determined by a person’s thoughts as much as it is determined by outside stimuli like events, situations and other people. In other words, it is not so much events that upset us as the meanings we give to them. Also, our thoughts have a habit of blocking us from seeing things that are actually real, but that we have decided not to believe are true. Beck particularly identified automatic or hot thoughts which are linked to strongly negative feelings. These thoughts are often destructive, unrealistic and unhelpful. CBT helps the individual to identify these thoughts and to reflect on them. In this way, an individual can confront the problems that led to his or her addiction. In summary, CBT makes the link between the individual’s problems, the behavior that causes these problems, and the thoughts that give rise to that behavior.

Elements of CBT

CBT has two main elements: functional analysis and skills training. Functional analysis is where the thoughts, feelings and situation of the individual are analyzed. This is a process in which both therapist and patient work closely together to identify the reasons for the patient’s behavior. It can help give the individual an insight into the nature and cause of their problems, and also identify the situations that give rise to the patient’s negative behaviors, for example, relapses into binge drinking. The second element of skills training is all about unlearning old habits and learning new coping skills. The idea is to get the individual to discover new ways of reflecting on, and coping with, those situations that led to their addiction.

Duration of CBT

Because CBT is a structured, goal-oriented approach, the process is usually short-term. Between ten and fifteen sessions are normally sufficient. However, although the CBT approach is not in itself open-ended, the special problems of alcohol addiction usually mandate some follow-up sessions. This is why a system of aftercare and support is so important in alcohol rehab programs.

Effectiveness of CBT

A 2009 meta-analysis study, published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, analyzed 53 controlled trials of cognitive-behavioral treatment (CBT) for adults diagnosed with alcohol- or illicit-drug-use disorders investigating the efficacy of CBT for recovery. The study’s findings “demonstrate the utility of CBT across a large and diverse sample of studies and under rigorous conditions for establishing efficacy.”

What is Alcohol Rehab?

Drink is a legal and socially accepted drug, and one that many people use to relax, socialize, and to deal with the stresses of work and everyday life. Alcohol, however, like any drug, is easy to abuse. Once an individual becomes psychologically and physically dependent on alcohol, or begins to abuse it, the consequences for their health, social relationships and career can be severe. A person in this situation needs help. Very few people can break the grasp of alcohol addiction alone. They need to consult professionals with the right experience and skills to help them find a way out of this situation. An Alcohol Rehab program puts those addicted to alcohol in touch with these people, and provides the setting in which these problems can be evaluated and resolved.

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