How Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) Helps Chronic Relapsers Find Success

posted in Our Services, Treatment



When people go to rehab, they often experience a similar process. First is an assessment of their personal history, medicines, substance use history, and medical workup. After that, they begin to find their way through detox to recovery where they can begin the journey of putting their life back together. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) can help people therapeutically look at the issues which keep them from successfully staying clean or sober. With a focus on their mind and body, CBT helps those with chronic relapse conditions feel empowered to take back control of their recovery. 

Nature of Chronic Relapse

There are many reasons someone might struggle with relapse to drugs. High rates of substance abuse, family dynamics, and feel they are not able to manage expectations in life without substances are all part of the challenges they face. Recovery is more likely when someone believes they can recover and wants help. Common causes of relapse often include lack of treatment for dual diagnosis, not getting an individualized plan, and lack of aftercare planning. Relapse is most likely the first 90 days of recovery but the brain and body take time to recover, so it can be even more likely to relapse the first six months to a year. Giving the body time to respond to treatment is key.

How CBT Works

Therapy is one of the more challenging aspects of recovery. A person has to be willing to look at their past and find healing. It focuses on the way a person’s thoughts influence their feelings and behaviors. When a person understands these elements and how they are connected, a person is better equipped to think and act positively. What a person thinks or how they act can have a major impact on their overall health. As part of addiction treatment, cognitive behavioral therapy helps a person deal with problematic patterns in their life. The drivers for addiction are often:

  • Past trauma
  • PTSD
  • Unaddressed mental health conditions
  • Genetics
  • Environmental stressors

These, sometimes, in combination, can lead a person to chronically relapse and feel unable to get past the behaviors which are keeping them stuck in addiction. CBT helps a person look at all these in conjunction with other modalities, getting enough sleep, eating better, and self-care to build a comprehensive program that supports healing.

Treating Addiction with Therapy

While cognitive-behavioral therapy supports the treatment of different types of addiction, the research looks at how effective it is for various forms of addiction. The evidence supports these forms of drug addiction and substance use treated with CBT specifically can have a good success rate:

  • Marijuana
  • Cocaine
  • Alcohol
  • Methamphetamine

The best treatment outcomes depend on many factors. Therapeutic work, including CBT, can have long-lasting results because it looks at the deeper reasons behind addiction. People who struggle with addiction to more than one substance may benefit from another form of therapy or a combination of treatments. To get the most benefit from CBT, people in recovery often work hard to heal from past trauma, build new coping skills, learn how to handle their emotions, and work on their communication skills. While these are just a few ways people in recovery focus on deeper work of healing, they are often dealing with relapse prevention skills they may need to strengthen for the journey ahead.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Approaches

When someone is working at therapy, there are many ways to utilize CBT to help them avoid relapse in the future. It is a hard thing to do because it becomes habitual. To break the pattern and find a new way of thinking, CBT often focuses on responses to the environment. A person may experience other therapies like rational behavior therapy and cognitive therapy to help them learn how to respond to a situation that arises. Effective treatment helps people in recovery:

  • Address underlying causes for chronic relapse
  • Let go of negative patterns that see them returning to substance use to cope
  • Look at old trauma to address underlying causes
  • Motivate them to learn how to function better without substances

When people suffer from chronic relapse, they are looking to fill empty voids in their life. They are numbing feelings related to trauma and have not addressed key issues holding them back from recovery. Substances take hold of a person’s brain and body, which makes it hard to quit. Once detox is done, the work of setting their mind on healthy habits and thinking patterns begins. They have to be able to control their behavior in the midst of stress, frustration, and life circumstances if they want to achieve success in recovery. 

Holistic Patterns

People who chronically relapse are at higher risk to continue addiction and even overdose once they leave treatment. Aftercare programs that are designed to support people with chronic relapse can help them find healing. The pathway to healing in recovery is not complete. It is a journey with ups and downs. With the right team of people and approach, someone who relapses can turn things around and find the key to better success in recovery with a structure that helps them navigate triggers, stress, and other issues. To find hope and success in recovery, people who struggle with relapsing often find a combination of therapies to support their journey. They will have to work harder than they thought possible but it is worthwhile to find the right path for them to avoid future relapse and continue growing in recovery from addiction.

Forge is a place to come and recover your life from addiction. We help you reimagine what is possible and create the life you’ve been dreaming of.

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