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Application of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Practices for Substance Addiction

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According to “Statistics of Addiction in America” there are 20.6 million people who are affected by addiction alone, starting from the age of 12, on 2011. Tobacco addiction is not even included in the statistics, imagine how many millions would the actual number be if it were included. Addiction is not some simple illness like cough and cold that can be easily treated, or physical unattractiveness that can be remedied by make-up. It takes multiple sessions, heart breaks from loved ones either from sadness or embarrassment, and money that could have been used for something else just to cure the problem. If the process of solution does not yet put a frown on the faces of readers, how about the things that happen within the addiction phase. The addict spends a chunk of cash to support their wants and needs towards a substance, sometimes it goes far as to steal from people or cause harm if they have no money. Emotional pain is also an expected reaction of people who know that their friend or relative has a condition, at least for the ones that love and care for that addicted person. The point is, everybody is affected, even the ones who is not related in any way to the victim. The community will cease to exist or flourish if those involved in it are handicapped, which is why we ought to remember the phrase “no man is left behind.”

Addiction is defined “the fact or condition of being addicted to a particular substance, thing, or activity. That is kind of too broad and general for a paper. In the words of Merriam Webster, addiction is defined as “a compulsive need for and use of a habit-forming substance (such as heroin, nicotine, or alcohol) characterized by tolerance and by well-define physiological symptoms upon withdrawal.” This definition somehow focuses and tackles substance addiction, which will be the kind of addiction that will be dealt on this paper. There are two kinds of substance addiction: substance-use and substance-induced disorder. The substance use and substance-induced paper of October 10, 2012 simplifies these two for better understanding. It says there that substance-use is all about the attitude towards, dependency and abuse of a certain substance, meanwhile substance-induced is known when there is already intoxication and withdrawal symptoms involved that causes specific psychological and physiological effects to the individual.

Good news, there is a way to deal with this problem, and it is by using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.According to an article entitled “history of cognitive behavior therapy,” Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or CBT was pioneered by Dr. Aaron T. Beck, around 1960s. He made numerous studies, alongside of it there were many who followed, and others replicated the works making it one of the most researched therapies to date.

CBT is usually used in depression, anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive disorder, to name a few. Recently, it is now used widely on addiction as well. CBT is a combined therapy of cognitive and behavioral therapy, two different but complimentary in treating disorders. The idea behind is that while behavioral therapy focuses on the seen behaviors and how to reinforce new and healthy ones, cognitive deals with the thought and cognitive processes that is believed to be the root problem of many bad behavior.

How does it work? CBT recognizes the importance of people’s thoughts, feelings, physical sensation and actions, which is connected to one another, like stages or a cycle. CBT aims to isolate those stages and break them into parts, to deal with them better. Change the way the individual thinks and it will result to a change to how they feel. A change in feelings will then affect the behavior, changing it too, a chain reaction of change. Those patterns or habits will then change into a better and healthier kind of cycle.Another good thing about CBT is that it handles the patient’s current situation without the time-consuming digging of the past and numerous hours of interviews and interpretations.

There is an example of the application of CBT in treating heroin use by Grande (2015). He hired an actor so people can see an example of the therapy for educational purposes. Andrew Lightfoot is addicted to heroin, and the only reason why he was addicted is because of boredom. He was already detoxified from heroin a few times. He has a good relationship with his parents, and he has a lover. But his parents and his lover is worried about him so they supported him going to a counselor. Lightfoot explained that if he won’t stop using heroin his parents might disown him. The supplier of heroin was his neighbor, so whenever he crosses the supplier’s house, he craves for heroin. Grande pinpoint’s the root cause of Lightfoot’s addiction, and he used effective coping strategies for Lightfoot to develop. Lightfoot’s should be surrounded by the people he loves, so it won’t trigger him from craving heroin, but that doesn’t seem to be enough. So Grande asked him, “is there more things he can do whenever his parents or girlfriend is not around?”. Lightfoot replied to him that he usually goes for a drive and he will go to stores, to leave his house to avoid his supplier, and avoid the temptation of using heroin. Grande also tells Lightfoot the consequences of using heroin, which is he might get into trouble, and he might get kicked out from his parent’s house.

Two from many studies supports the effectiveness of CBT to substance addiction, though they vary on statistical significance, nevertheless points to the direction of a promising therapy. It found out that CBT may be more effective when it is given only brief sessions, when participants are women, and when the substance chosen by the victim is cannabis. CBT will work on substance addiction through operant conditioning or giving reinforcement to motivate and encourage the victim to stop the targeted behavior. This is explained that addiction is basically characterized as a learned behavior and strengthened by the reinforcing effects of the substance. All it needs is to be unlearned. The learning processes is the link among all substance abuse despite the heterogeneity of results or results that sometimes/somehow differ from one another.It was stated from “Select Using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy” that CBT usually takes 10 to 20 sessions equivalent to 20weeks, the session depends on the situation of the patient, it also depends on the patient’s needs and treatment goals.

I assumed that Cognitive behavioral Therapy only works for people that wanted to be cured. If the mind is negative, that may prevent a person from treating addiction. It was quoted in “Cognitive behavioral therapy for addiction” that “Negative thinking is an obstacle to self-change”. So if the patient is not willing to be treated they might relapse. It was also said that it prevents the patient from using the substance. I also have concluded that it may just support people who have been cleaned, or have been detoxified from drugs. 

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Application Of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Practices For Substance Addiction. (2021, Jun 09). GradesFixer. Retrieved August 11, 2022, from
“Application Of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Practices For Substance Addiction.” GradesFixer, 09 Jun. 2021,
Application Of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Practices For Substance Addiction. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 11 Aug. 2022].
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