Cognitive Behavioral Therapy — Relapse Prevention (CBT-RP)

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is an evidence-based relapse prevention therapy whose goal is to provide patients with tools to avoid relapsing.

CBT believes that addiction is the product of a conditioned response. The person has repeatedly experienced overwhelmingly positive results from a particular action. As a result, the behavior is associated with positive emotions and sought in response to negative circumstances.

Giving in to this urge is known as a lapse while continuing to give in is known as a relapse. Cognitive behavioral therapy attacks the roots of addiction by

  • Removing things that make someone desire substances
  • Changing a person’s feelings about intoxication.
  • Replacing substance use with other activities that produce similar effects.

The result is a decrease in substance-related urges and an increased ability to manage them.

Why it’s important for recovery?

About 40-60% of people who’ve completed rehab eventually lapse. Most people look at a lapse as a complete failure. As a result, they feel deep shame, disappointment, and loss of self-control. If these emotions lead a person to believe they aren’t strong enough to fight their addiction they are statistically more likely than any other group to resume substance abuse.

A crucial aspect of CBT for relapse prevention is that a lapse is an unfortunate setback but can be educational. By understanding the roots of a lapse people become less susceptible to them in the future.

CBT has a “sleeper effect” becoming more useful as more time passes. Studies show that CBT patients are less likely to lapse, less likely to feel defeated if they do, and more likely to resume their sobriety after a setback.

How Does It Work?

CBT is a talk-therapy that teaches clients how to assert conscious control over the negative perceptions and emotions that cause cravings. In Cognitive Behavioral Therapy patients:

  1. Learn that a relapse is an event at the end of a long chain of warning signs. A person heading for a relapse usually makes a number of decisions that brings them closer to giving in.
  2. Review their prior relapses to learn what kinds of events or feelings led up to them.
  3. Review common build-ups to relapses to see if any of them are part of their history.
  4. Vocalize the build-up situations and emotions that create cravings or make sobriety difficult.
  5. Receive personalized coping tactics for their build-ups. These provide practice in avoiding things that produce cravings. However, if certain things cannot be avoided patients learn useable strategies for coping. For instance, visualizing what your “ideal self” would do in a situation.
  6. Roleplay tactics with a therapist and practice them further between sessions.
  7. Improve their communication skills. These may include assertiveness training, conflict resolution, or how to ask for support.
  8. Join a social network dedicated to sobriety. Typically this is Alcoholics or Narcotics Anonymous since they are free and easily accessible support networks.
  9. Erase negative automatic ways of thinking. Everything in our experience is subjective. Two people could have the exact same upbringing and still have completely different reactions to the same situation. Questioning the automatic ways a person perceives their reality can help change how they react to it.
  10. Work with therapists to develop a more balanced lifestyle. Balancing requires pleasure to equal obligation and sometimes this means creating new habits that stimulate the brain to produce pleasure such as exercise or meditation.

Tree House Recovery provides short and long term success to all our patients. It’s not about being sober for another day, it’s about being sober and happy every day. For more information, see our reviews or look at our success rates. Our low relapse prevention rates are second to none.