How CBT Can Help Promote Positivity During Treatment for Opioid Addiction
Opioid addiction has claimed the lives of many. With the rise of prescription medication abuse, more and more people are becoming trapped in the vicious cycle of dependency. Through Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, you can learn to unearth the causes of your opioid addiction by pinpointing the cognitive processes that drive it. Throughout the process, you’ll learn how to promote positive thoughts and behaviors to replace the ones that currently feed your addiction, and take the first steps toward learning how to live without the influence of opioids.
Philip Seymour Hoffman. Heath Ledger. Prince. The increasing number of high-profile deaths resulting from opioid use has brought the dangers of addiction to the drug into the limelight, highlighting the fact that its insidious grip does not discriminate. Despite this increase in awareness, we have yet to see its use decline—between 26 and 36 million people around the world abuse opioids, and they’re responsible for an alarming number of overdose deaths, which have more than quadrupled in the United States since 1999.
No matter the reason for using, opioid addiction can make you feel helpless. Even after years of being sober, you can struggle with thoughts of using as you push your way through what is, for many, a lifelong effort. If you feel trapped by opioid addiction, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) can help break down the walls it’s built around your mind by helping you uncover and understand the thought processes that drive it.
What Is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?
CBT focuses on fostering an increased awareness of the thought patterns that drive mental health challenges and addiction. The idea is that once you’re aware of those thought patterns, you can replace them with healthier, more positive thoughts. It sounds simple when explained in this way, but it’s a therapy that takes a really persistent, concentrated effort, and should be guided by an experienced professional. Most will need the help of a supportive therapist to lead them through the process and ensure that they leave treatment with the coping skills and resolve to maintain their abstinence into the future.
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Unearthing the Causes of Your Opioid Addiction
Opioid addiction is both a physical and mental experience. Between withdrawal effects (like insomnia and muscle aches) and intense psychological cravings rooted in maladaptive thought processes, trying to break free without help could send you right back to using. “Opiates are especially manipulative because you get outside of your consciousness,” explains one former addict.
Fears you didn’t know you had suddenly vanish. Though the experience of a drug is aromantic and nostalgic feeling, addiction is not. It’s ugly and selfish, because it is so bodily. It is both metaphorical and biological, it is hunger for emotion and chemical alteration.
CBT gets to the core of those “romantic and nostalgic” feelings by asking you to be critical about them, to unpack them and ask yourself what drives your need for them. Perhaps it’s trauma or a mental health need you haven’t yet acknowledged. Regardless, through CBT, you can learn to combat your addiction from the inside out by strengthening your mind against its grip. Eventually, you’ll gain enough awareness of the thoughts and behaviors that drive your addiction that you can learn to navigate and overcome them.
Learning to Manage Addiction Triggers Through CBT
At the core of CBT for opioid addiction lies the idea that opioids reinforce drug-using behavior, and that over time, these reinforcing effects become associated with certain stimuli that trigger use of the drug. Every time you take an opioid, your brain sends dopamine to a specific region of the brain involved in reward and pleasure, a process that acts as the main reinforcer. When these pleasurable effects are felt, they become associated with whatever you were exposed to at the moment of experiencing them, such as the needle you use to inject or the bottle of pills that you keep your prescription in. Because of the brain’s tendency to rely on patterns, those stimuli act as triggers for your addiction, inducing craving upon the sight of them.
By analyzing the patterns that drive your opiod use, you’ll learn what triggers your desire to use, and, with the help of your therapist, start working through them in whatever way makes most sense to you. That might just mean addressing them openly in talk therapy, or exposing yourself to your triggers gradually and with support so that you can start training your mind to resist them.
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Promoting Positive Thoughts and Behaviors with Comprehensive Residential Treatment
Opioid addiction can take control of both your mind and body. Gaining the upper hand requires a deep understanding of how your addiction influences your thoughts and behaviors, and the tools you’ll need to break free of its influence. After a period of medically-supervised detox, you’ll have access to supports like CBT, yoga, and acupuncture, which can help you gain the strength and wisdom you need to do exactly that.
If you’re struggling with opioid addiction right now, know that you’re not alone. Many have walked this path before you, and many have successfully completed their treatment and gone onto longstanding recovery. By acknowledging that you want to live a life free of dependency and abuse, you’ve taken the first step toward treatment, and that means you’ve taken the first step towards taking control of your life.
Alta Mira offers a wide array of treatment options for opioid addiction in a safe, non-judgmental environment. If you or a loved one is living with an addiction to opioids, contact us today to learn more about how our treatment programs can utilize Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to help you better understand the nature of your addiction and eliminate the control that it has over your thoughts and actions.