What Is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?

Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) is an effective and evidence-based psychotherapy treatment option that has been successfully used to help individuals with a range of mental and emotional health concerns. CBT has also been found to be effective for individuals with substance use disorders (SUDs), since SUDs are known to be linked to negative thinking.

Treatment is based on these core principles:

  • Psychological problems are often based on negative thinking that may be faulty or unhelpful.
  • Learned behaviors that are unhelpful or negative are often at the root of psychological problems. 
  • Individuals can learn new and better coping strategies to deal with psychological difficulties, allowing them to relieve some symptoms and live a fuller life.

The end goal of CBT is changing thinking patterns. CBT treatment usually involves strategies such as:

  1. Recognizing distortions in one’s thinking and reevaluating negative thought patterns
  2. Learning problem-solving skills and gaining confidence in one’s ability to use them
  3. Facing fears instead of avoiding them
  4. Preparing for potentially difficult situations and interactions
  5. Learning ways to calm both body and mind

Instead of being told what to do and how to act, individuals are taught how to be their own therapist by evaluating their thoughts, feelings and behaviors with a more objective viewpoint. They can then see where they have room for change. The focus of treatment is where the patient finds themselves now, and how they can move forward with better, healthier patterns to combat substance addiction. 

At Lake Area Recovery Center, CBT has been shown to be especially effective in situations where an individual is dealing with co-occurring mental health and SUD symptoms.

What is the Cognitive-Behavioral Interventions for Substance Use (CBI-SU) Program?

Cognitive Behavioral Interventions (CBI) is an evidence-based treatment for individuals working to overcome a substance use disorder (SUD). It is a form of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). This intensive outpatient program was originally developed by the University of Cincinnati’s School of Criminal Justice and utilized as treatment for incarcerated individuals.

The goal of CBI-SU is to help participants better understand the thoughts and feelings that ultimately lead to behaviors that result in substance use and addiction. Program administrators work with individuals via an assessment to help them identify a specific problem that can be dealt with in order to change negative thought patterns that lead to negative behavior. Once participants complete prerequisite lessons, the program becomes more open-ended, allowing for flexible coverage of the material.

The Cognitive-Behavioral Interventions for Substance Use (CBI-SU) program is designed for individuals who have serious cases of SUDs and have either been referred by a medical professional or who meet certain criteria in their substance use history. CBI-SU can be used as a standalone treatment but will also work in complement with other available treatment options. A strong focus on building and fortifying cognitive, social, emotional, and coping skill development is a key program component. The CBI-SU program is available in two versions: (1) for adults, and (2) for adolescents. 

What does the CBI-SU program involve?

The Cognitive-Behavioral Interventions for Substance Use (CBI-SU) curriculum includes various cognitive-behavioral strategies that have been demonstrated to be highly effective treatment options. The program is goal-oriented, with a focus on transforming thinking patterns and the resulting behaviors that come from substance abuse.

The CBI-SU program consists of an often optional pre-treatment module and six additional modules that have the following themes:

  • Motivational Engagement
  • Cognitive Restructuring
  • Emotion Regulation/Engagement
  • Social Skills
  • Problem Solving
  • Success Planning

Though it may be optional for some participants, the pretreatment module will delve into reasons that some may resist treatment along with ways to reevaluate and rethink reflexive resistance. It will also offer help to develop the skills needed to effectively weigh the pros and cons of treatment for oneself. Subsequent modules are designed to be engaged within a semi-open group format. Once the first and second requisite modules are completed, participants can generally cover the material in a more flexible manner. Lake Area Recovery Center program facilitators can share more details about the specific guidelines for each of the six modules.

Groups overseen by one facilitator ideally include 8-10 individuals, to give each person the opportunity to practice and contribute fully. Each individual session is meant to last an hour and a half, with variability built in for adequate practice time. After an initial assessment and prior to the first session, each participant will meet with the facilitator to review their assessment and any concerns they may have about treatment. Beginning by dispelling misconceptions and easing participants’ anxiety can go far to improve outcomes. 

From individuals’ seating locations to program structure, every aspect of group dynamics is taken into account so that each individual can reap the most benefit from the program. Homework is referred to as “practice work” and is a vital tool for participants to utilize the knowledge they gain in real-world ways and scenarios.

How does the CBI-SU program help individuals with substance use disorders?

Participants in the CBI-SU program will be helped to identify and alter any behaviors and/or thinking patterns that could sabotage their goals of living an addiction-free life. As part of their treatment they will be guided to take a hands-on, practical approach to solving the problems they may face and transforming the way they react to real-life situations.

The program’s six modules will help individuals with substance use disorders to take a more objective point of view when assessing things that may come up in their lives. After completing the program, participants will be able to recognize risky situations, understand and adjust emotions, better manage stress and anxiety, and build positive social skills, among other things. With the right tools at hand, participants will be able to plan for a successful future, even in the face of potential roadblocks. 

Each module is designed to engage participants in the lessons to be learned, with the aim of encouraging even unmotivated individuals. Everyday topics like how decisions are made, how to make helpful decisions, how to handle cravings, and how to sustain a desire for change are addressed. By understanding that thought patterns are at the root of actions and behavior, program participants will gain a deeper understanding of their own motivations and have the insight needed to make a change for the better. Role playing will help individuals to try on what they’ve learned and gain valuable practice time that can reinforce their newfound skills. 

How long does the CBI-SU program last?

Each of the six modules and the pre-treatment module contain various topics, with each topic being the theme for its own week of the program. In all, the 39-topic program will run for approximately 39 weeks total. After this intensive course is complete, participants will have learned a variety of strategies necessary for them to be able to achieve and maintain an addiction-free lifestyle.

Work With the Lake Area Recovery Center

At the Lake Area Recovery Center, we know that overcoming behaviors and habits can be a difficult process. But we also know that recovery and gaining control over substance addiction is possible. If you or a loved one are working through a substance use disorder, it’s absolutely necessary to understand the thinking that is behind your actions, and to know how environments and emotions can affect you. Knowing what is at the root of addictive patterns can put recovery within reach. Don’t wait – reach out to our team today to learn more about cognitive behavioral therapy and how it can help you to conquer your substance use disorder.