An addict in a relationship has two problems.
First, he or she is dealing with a substance or behavior that he or she cannot manage. Second, his or her partnership with the person they love the most is compromised and damaged by the inevitable concessions, enabling, and emotional trials a loved one endures as addiction changes everything.
Addictions come in many forms, but all are typically characterized by:
- Negative consequences in a person’s life that affect their physical health, career, home and mental health
- An inability to stop using a substance or engaging in a particular behavior, despite the negative consequences
Nearly anyone can become addicted. Nearly any couple can be affected. Read this amazing quote from Dr. Kima Joy Taylor, director of Closing the Addiction Treatment Gap (CATG) Initiative:
“Drug use is on the rise in this country and 23.5 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 with an addiction receive treatment. It is staggering and unacceptable that so many Americans are living with an untreated chronic disease and cannot access treatment.”
Common addictions that Susie successfully treats are:
- Drugs (both illicit and prescription)
Why Therapy is Important in Addiction Treatment
Addiction doesn’t respect a couple’s loving connection, privacy, or future. To manage the many challenges that accompany a relationship struggling through the realities of one or both partner’s compulsions requires focused, expert attention.Because addictions typically have so many dimensions and disrupt so many aspects of a person’s life, treatment is not simple. Effective treatment programs often incorporate multiple components, including medications, outpatient treatment/residential treatment, and behavioral treatment such as cognitive behavioral therapy.
Because addiction is typically a chronic disease, people cannot simply stop using drugs/engaging in the behavior for a few days and be cured. Most patients require long-term or repeated episodes of care to achieve the ultimate goal of sustained abstinence and recovery of their lives.
Cognitive Behavior Therapy for Addictions
While cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is most well-known for treating depression and anxiety disorders, it has also been shown to be valuable in addictions; specifically in treating alcoholism and drug addiction as part of an overall program of recovery.
Cognitive behavioral therapy is based on the process of identifying negative, irrational thought patterns that influence a person’s behavior. Negative, unhealthy thought patterns almost always play a role in the development of an addiction, whether the addiction is to drugs, alcohol, gambling, tobacco, or pornography. By breaking the cycle of unhealthy thought patterns, therapists can help addicts learn new behaviors to replace those that led to and perpetuated their addiction.
CBT helps addicts learn how to recognize moods, thoughts, and situations that cause the addiction craving. A therapist can help the person avoid these triggers, and replace negative thoughts and feelings with healthier ones.
The skills learned in cognitive behavioral therapy can last a lifetime, making it an especially powerful method of drug abuse treatment. Due to the many benefits of cognitive behavioral therapy, more and more addiction treatment programs are including it. CBT offers many benefits as part of addiction therapy:
- Provides a crucial support network
- Helps develop a more positive thought pattern
- Enhances self esteem
- Educates how to resist peer pressure
Susie has helped many of her clients achieve their goals by using the cognitive behavior therapy approach to treat depression, anxiety, and addictions.