REBT for AddictionCamila Archuleta
Human behavior and thinking are as closely related to addiction as any other element of the human personality. Relating certain behaviors to their responses and triggers allows us to completely reprogram our brains, resulting in different behavioral reactions to a specific stimulus.
These methods, including NLP (neuro-linguistic programming), can provide significant benefits for individuals seeking treatment for substance abuse disorders. The longer we abuse drugs, the more ingrained these negative behaviors become, making it difficult to shake them without a literal reprogramming of the mind and behavioral patterns.
One especially effective form of treatment is REBT (Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy), created by Dr. Ellis, the same doctor who drove the formation of CBT (Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy).
Both of these forms of treatment are highly well-reviewed and still used heavily in many current treatment models, including in the evidence-based practices used at Icarus Behavioral Health. Keep reading to find out all about REBT and its uses in promoting effective behavioral health treatment.
Behavioral Therapy for Addiction Treatment
The more commonly used type, CBT, uses behavioral replacement methods to help clients heal from the negative reactional habits clients develop after years of substance abuse. Dr. Ellis dove headfirst into his work, often using his personal life experience during client sessions to help coach them through therapy.
What Ellis discovered was groundbreaking. He concluded that individuals who suffer emotional episodes don’t have these episodes because of the traumatic events at the center of a mental health disorder. Instead, they happen because of thoughts surrounding the event, which are often irrational.
Because of his discovery, he concluded that by helping a person identify irrational thoughts and challenge their validity, he could help them replace them with healthier thoughts, thus creating new behaviors.
What Is REBT?
REBT is Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy. This form of psychotherapy or talk therapy is often used when treating substance abuse disorders to help clients correct negative or irrational lines of thinking. These are substituted for healthier thought systems and more beneficial behaviors.
Substance abuse is usually a product of maladaptive behaviors and actions, which is what makes REBT so effective. It instructs clients to correct how they think as a mechanism to change their actions.
Where Did REBT Therapy Come From?
Dr. Robert Ellis began implementing REBT therapy after conducting a large amount of research on various clients he treated for mental health and substance abuse disorders. One of the most important breakthroughs happened while treating a client named Orville, who had alcohol and substance abuse issues.
He also had issues with overeating. When Ellis questioned his habits, Orville replied that his father abandoned him (the event). He stated that the abandonment made him feel worthless (irrational belief).
When challenged regarding his feeling of worthlessness, Orville began resisting. Even though these beliefs hurt Orville, they were so ingrained in his mind that he didn’t want to challenge their validity.
In a very crafty move, Ellis spoke with Orville about his father’s irrational beliefs, which turned into a conversation about his terrible behavior as a father. This was one of the first REBT models at work, placing Orville’s father at the center of the conversation, not Orville himself.
This made it much easier for him to discuss the specifics. Ellis then tells Orville that he believes Orville likes being intoxicated because it removes his depression. He points out how using drugs, drinking, and overeating keeps him in a perpetual cycle of depression and relief.
After multiple sessions and continuously challenging Orville’s beliefs, he slowly began implementing and installing better lifestyle choices. Ultimately, Orville began a drug-free life and changed his eating habits.
What Is REBT for Addiction?
REBT is implemented in group and individual treatment sessions. Using a four-step system, addiction is treated by helping patients analyze their reactions, thoughts, and beliefs that cause them stress. This is an outline of the process:
- Helping clients point out beliefs that aren’t rational and cause negative feelings.
- Directing clients toward questioning their false beliefs to figure out whether these beliefs have any truth
- Help clients gain information regarding their beliefs in a way that helps them question them in context with their feelings and whether these beliefs are plausible
- Assist with swapping the negative thoughts with positive ones in an attempt to get clients to change their thought patterns into more beneficial ones
The process is similar to the CBT model, which Ellis also was responsible for. However, CBT centers around behaviors that manifest because of thought patterns, while REBT focuses more on the emotions clients feel due to their beliefs.
The ABC Model of REBT
The ABC Model is one of the most common and effective modes of therapy for REBT. It’s outlined in the following list:
- A for Action: The client experiences an event that activates their emotions. This can be a trauma or similar event.
- B for Belief: The reaction to the event forces the client to develop a belief. When clients display unhealthy behavior, it’s a sign that they also have unhealthy thoughts.
- C for Consequence: Because of the adverse event, the client has started to live an unhealthy life.
- D for Dispute: Therapists will question the client’s behaviors, thoughts, and visualizations regarding their trauma. The therapist will ask the client to gather some information regarding their belief in a way that leads the client to discover their beliefs are false.
REBT is effective in substance abuse treatment and mental health. The process is slightly different in the case of the latter.
REBT for Mental Health
REBT is used equally in substance abuse disorders and mental health treatment. It’s highly effective in treating:
Next, let’s take a closer look at whether REBT can be used in dual diagnosis situations.
REBT and Dual Diagnosis Treatment
REBT is an excellent candidate for dual diagnosis treatment. Because it’s equally effective in treating substance abuse disorders and mental health issues separately, it works just as well when the two conditions are combined and treated simultaneously.
Because clients will often have the same thoughts that stem from trauma that lead to mental health challenges AND their conjoining substance abuse, using the ABC model and other forms of REBT treatment will help clients treat the source of their substance abuse issues.
How Long Does REBT Last?
There is no designated time limit regarding REBT treatment. Some clients will experience success in as little as a few days, while some may take weeks or months to begin achieving breakthroughs.
Working with a counselor, most clients know the signs of progress. Noting progress isn’t difficult, as it’s highlighted by a decrease in irrational thoughts surrounding the trauma at the center of their mental health, substance abuse disorders, or both.
If the disorders treated are highly complex, clients may continue REBT therapy after inpatient or outpatient rehab. Often, clients will receive referrals to primary care mental health counselors who continue REBT therapy well past rehab. This is a highly effective tool in preventing relapse after graduating from treatment.
REBT for Relapse Prevention
REBT is an effective tool in preventing relapse during post-treatment sessions with mental health and substance abuse counselors. Even after a client graduates from inpatient or outpatient rehab, the first several months are still a “danger zone” because of the way that clients are just learning new thoughts to cope with trauma.
They’re highly susceptible to temptation, especially if they have a short return of negative thoughts. Using REBT post-treatment will help clients cope with returning negative thoughts, ensuring they don’t turn into negative behaviors.
REBT is an effective option for post-treatment, while CBT is not as effective during these cases. Because CBT addresses behaviors, most of these behaviors should be eliminated once inpatient or outpatient treatment is over.
However, REBT is useful as reinforcement for preventing these behaviors from returning.
Effective REBT for Addiction Recovery: Found Here
Have you ever imagined attending a treatment that uses models like REBT and CBT or dual diagnosis treatment that also incorporates elements of holistic healing?
If you ever concluded that integrating both forms of treatment might finally help you overcome the roadblocks that have been stopping you from achieving success, you’re not alone in this sentiment, and we heard your call.
At Icarus Behavioral Health, we use a combination of luxury, holistic, and traditional treatment models to give all our clients the highest odds of success during and after treatment.
A Holistic Rehab Experience Like No Other
Our holistic approach helps you treat your spirit. We use several treatment models and activities to help you connect with nature and tap back into your true self—things like breathwork, adventure therapy, and other holistic models.
Finally, using traditional models like REBT and CBT allow us to treat the emotional side of your substance abuse disorder. When you combine all of these elements with a compassionate staff driven by the goal of helping you reclaim your life, the odds of success increase exponentially.
To find out how Icarus Behavioral can help you take your life back and experience recovery, contact a member of our Admissions staff today!