A Forever Recovery’s Tracks: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

A Forever Recovery Cognitive TrackWhat’s good for one person isn’t necessarily good for another. So often, recovery programs are focused on one method of treatment. A patient checks in and success or failure is predicated upon that approach working with their personality and temperament. A Forever Recovery is different. Different “tracks” are offered. Patients are encouraged to try all of them upon arriving at the facility to find the right fit.

In this series, we are going to highlight each of the tracks offered at AFR: faith-based, self-help, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and indigenous.


Getting to the Root of Addiction

Not everyone who enters a recovery program has a deep-seated reason for succumbing to addiction. Addiction doesn’t discriminate. There are plenty of people who come from good family structures and backgrounds who end up needing treatment for alcohol or drug abuse.

“I sustained a tough injury my senior year (of high school), and I had to have surgery on my leg because my knee came out the side of my leg,” said Jon Hard, now an Addiction Specialist working with AFR. “It was rough. Because of surgery, I had to have painkillers. I had taken painkillers before, recreationally, and I think that’s what started me on the path to a hardcore addiction.” Jon says he had a great family life and attributed his addiction to experimentation along with a predisposition to dependency.

But many struggles with addiction who are not like Jon. Many use drugs or alcohol as a way to numb the pain and emotion of past experiences. For those people, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy – or CBT – can be an effective method of treatment.

SMART Recovery

A Forever Recovery uses SMART Recovery techniques, which include a 4-Point Program: a cost-benefit analysis; coping with urges; managing thoughts, feelings and behaviors; and living a balanced life. “Gaining independence from addictive behavior can involve changes that affect an individual’s entire life, not just changes directly related to the addictive behavior itself,” reads the SMART Recovery website, smartrecovery.org.

A 12-Step program, for example, focuses solely on the addictive behavior and working out of that behavior. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, on the other hand, takes an introspective look at the baseline factor for the patient’s addiction. This program typically revolves around the patient using drugs or alcohol as a coping mechanism for avoiding strong feelings or emotions. “In the process of ‘getting to know’ your feelings, the developing coping skill is put to the test,” reads the SMART website. “This is inevitable. The two go hand-in-hand. We find ourselves actively pursuing the very thing that for years we have been actively avoiding.”

CBT can be a scary thing as patients uproot painful feelings that have been buried with the help of addiction. That is one reason AFR’s track program is so helpful; a patient could “take a break” from CBT and switch to Faith-Based if worshiping is an effective way he or she can find some peace.

What is CBT?

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a problem-focused form of behavioral treatment that works to help people see the relationship between their thoughts, beliefs, feelings, behaviors, and actions. CBT helps people to recognize that their thought process directly correlates with their actions.

Through Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, individuals can learn how to intercept their negative thinking patterns, transform them into positive ones, and use them to control their own outcome. CBT teaches individuals that their perception of a situation (becoming aware of how they view it) can determine their outcome rather than the situation itself.

This kind of therapy is especially beneficial when dealing with addiction because it helps individuals realize that by changing their negative thinking patterns, they can also change the outcome of their addiction. Individuals who are suffering from addiction learn that they can take control of their situation and achieve long-term sobriety if they set their mind to it.

What are Positive and Negative Thinking Patterns?

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy believes that by adjusting our thought processes, we can control the outcome of an event. For example, believing how you will perform in a job interview will influence how you’ll actually perform in a job interview.

If you think you will do poorly, your actions and behaviors will reflect that. In turn, the interviewer will see those behaviors, and it could influence if you get the job or not. By going into the interview with a positive mindset, positive behaviors and actions will follow.

Here are some examples of negative thinking patterns:

  • “I feel like everybody will notice if I fail.”
  • “If something is right in one instance, it is always right in every instance.”
  • “I feel like nobody fails but me.”
  • “I know that my life is headed in a negative direction.”
  • “There is nothing I can do to change my situation. It is what it is.”
  • “I know that I will perform poorly in this situation.”

Here are some examples of positive thinking patterns:

  • “I recognize that some things are out of my control, but others are in my control.”
  • “I can only control myself and not other people.”
  • “I can do this.”
  • “I realize that I have been thinking negatively lately, but I can change that into positive thinking.”
  • “I can achieve anything I set my mind to.”
CBT also helps people to make their goals more manageable. For example, when thinking about achieving long-term sobriety, it can seem extremely overwhelming. It may even discourage some people from trying to get there at all. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy allows individuals to break down their goals into smaller, more manageable steps so that they feel that they actually can achieve their goals.

How Does CBT Work?

CBT uses many techniques to make individuals realize that they can take control of their own situations by changing their thinking patterns.

With each Cognitive Behavioral Therapy session, the individual forms goals with the therapist so that they can make sure the time spent in therapy was productive. The therapist and individual form a bond so that the individual knows they can talk about their problems in a judgment-free zone.

The therapist may incorporate other techniques besides communication to aid in the therapeutic process, such as journaling, mindfulness, mental and physical exercises, relaxation, and more.

Therapists may also give the individual receiving CBT “homework,” such as reading, writing, or practicing mindfulness. By doing this, it encourages the individual to practice these techniques on their own; this increases their chances of continuing the exercises once the therapy is over.

What Other Ways Does Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Help?

In addition to helping in the addiction recovery process, CBT also helps to lessen the effects of other issues. Many people who are suffering from addiction also have an accompanying issue that needs attention. These may include:

  • Depression/anxiety
  • Eating disorders
  • PTSD
  • Anger problems
  • Phobias
  • Sleeping problems
  • Other mental illnesses
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy helps in the treatment of many mental health issues. When somebody has, say, the combination of substance addiction and an eating disorder, CBT can help the individual find the root of both problems and come up with the proper ways to fix them.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a great form of therapy for people who are suffering from substance abuse. It helps them to recognize their thinking patterns and change them into positive ones. With a more positive mindset, people will have more positive behaviors and actions to aid in their recovery process.

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