Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy (REBT)

One of the most popular and effective methods for the treatment of substance abuse, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, is cognitive behavioral therapy. Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy is a type of CBT that was created more than a half-century ago to address the concepts of learned behaviors based upon our own interpretation of events and circumstances in our lives. A person, for instance, has a specific set of beliefs that govern how they behave and how they feel. If a person believes that “everyone is talking about them,” they may feel self-conscious or inadequate. This might lead to very specific behaviors, such as self-imposed isolation or a fear of crowded, public places. In turn, this behavior may lead them to experience sadness that might lead to depression. If one throws in the abuse of alcohol or drugs as a coping mechanism, the pre-existing or co-occurring condition may increase the individual’s likelihood of developing an addiction.

Addiction, as a disorder in its own right, can also be a result of one’s beliefs and behaviors. An individual who believes that they are exceptional over others in the way they experience pain – that is, they believe that their medical condition is causing them more pain than the same condition would cause someone else – may take it upon themselves to increase their dosages of pain medication without consulting their doctor. The cognitive element in this example is the belief or understanding that they are in more pain than another patient. The behavior is the actual action of increasing their medication improperly. They may have never had the intention to “get high,” but they may have sincerely believed they needed to increased dosages in order to feel normal.

Another individual may have every intention to use drugs recreationally for the sole purpose of experiencing the euphoric effects. They might have a belief that they are immune to addiction, or they may simply believe that they need the drugs in order to relax or “handle” their daily lives. In any of the above examples, it is the purpose of rational emotive behavioral therapy to correct one’s misunderstandings by teaching these individuals a more rational and healthy approach to living their lives.

Balancing Rational Thought With Healthy Emotion

rational emotive behavioral therapyWhen we think of rational behaviors, we might picture a specific set of circumstances in our mind. When we receive news that a loved one has passed away, we might cry. Depending upon the circumstances, we might be angry. These are very emotional responsible, but they are also rational because they fit the circumstances with which we’re faced. However, when we become angry by circumstances that would make another person mildly upset, we may need to address our misconceptions about the circumstances in our lives in order to change the behaviors we express due to our emotions. Rational emotive behavioral therapy will not try to eliminate all emotions from an individual’s life. When a person experiences an event that makes them sad, angry, confused or aggravated, they may have better tools to control their unhealthy behaviors as a result.

Another aspect of REBT is that the therapy does not focus on the wrongs one has experienced in the past by trying to solve these long-ago problems. Rather, the therapy focuses on how those events affect the present, or the current situation, by providing rational solutions to the current emotional condition. The contention is that it is not possible to correct or change an event that happened in early childhood, such as a parental divorce or abandonment, childhood abuse or neglect, or even a traumatic car accident. However, it is possible, through the use of REBT and cognitive behavioral therapies, to retrain an individual to think rationally about the effects of these events on one’s life, the emotions one experiences as a result of the beliefs, and the behaviors that one engages in to cope with the trauma. These are present-day aspects that affect the individual in every current situation and can have lasting impact on one’s quality of life.

Untreated Co-Occurring Conditions Can Lead to Drug Addiction

There is no uniform reason or cause for drug addiction, according to the experts at the National Institute on Drug Abuse. There are, however, certain risk factors that can come into play when an individual chooses to abuse drugs. For example:

  • A person is more likely to become addicted to drugs or alcohol if they are exposed to drugs at a early age
  • A person is more likely to become addicted to drugs or alcohol if they live in an environment that includes abuse and stress
  • A person is more likely to become addicted to drugs or alcohol if they are exposed to peer pressure or other drug-related environmental influences
  • An individual is more likely to become addicted when another family member has suffered from addiction in the past, suggesting at least a modicum of genetic influence in the problem
  • An individual is more likely to abuse drugs and become addicted if they suffer from another mental health disorder

The research shows that individuals who suffer from a mood disorder, such as an anxiety disorder or depression are two times as likely to suffer from addiction over the general population. On that same note, individuals who suffer from addiction are twice as likely to be diagnosed with another mental health issue. When both problems exist, the experts agree that in order to effectively treat one problem, both issues must be addressed. One of the benefits of REBT is that it can be applied to both the mental health issues as well as the addiction issues simultaneously to encourage overall healing on a holistic level.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapies Are a Partnership Between Patient and Therapist

Like all cognitive behavioral therapies, according to the National Association of Cognitive Behavioral Therapists, REBT involves a certain level of trust and camaraderie between the patient and the counselor, but unlike traditional talk therapy, the real focus is on the individual and not the relationship. Rather than listening to a therapist explain what you should be feeling or how you should be behaving, REBT and other CBT methods help the individual determine rational solutions on their own.

Other benefits and aspects of REBT might include:

  • A briefer period of therapy with a beginning, middle and end based upon specific goals and objectives
  • Counselors ask questions to encourage clients to figure out the facts of any given situation as they learn to rely on sound cognitive principles rather than learned emotional responses
  • Clients complete homework assignments to help them immerse themselves in the learning process even when they are not actively participating in a therapy session
  • REBT teaches stoicism, or the ability to be calm when faced with adversity because our emotions will not change the circumstances
  • Each session has a specific goal in mind that furthers the overall process of learning new ways to manage emotions and behaviors

Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy Is Available in Residential and Outpatient Treatment

The decision whether to participate in a residential treatment program or an outpatient treatment program is a personal one that can also have outside influences. For instance, some individuals may find that their insurance will not pay for inpatient treatment until an effort to complete outpatient treatment has failed. In other cases, responsibilities to family or work may prohibit an extended or even short-term absence for residential treatment. Ultimately, however, the treatment decisions should be made with input from qualified professionals who can provide you with the details you need. For instance, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, short-term residential treatment programs have some of the highest completion rates in terms of drug addiction treatment facilities.

It is possible for you or your loved one to get the help you need to recover from addiction. Contact Axis today and discover how we can help you.