Cognitive Behavioral Approach to Treating Alcohol Dependence Term Paper

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Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to Treat Alcohol Dependence

The use of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in treating alcohol dependence

Alcohol belongs to a family of compounds called stimulants. Many people consume it for different reasons; several people take alcoholic beverages when they want to enjoy themselves with family members, friends and colleagues while some groups are addicted to it claiming it helps fight depression and anxiety. These set of people cannot fight the urge to overuse and by so doing, they ultimately depend on it. This can be appropriately called 'alcohol dependence'. When taken, alcohol depresses the central nervous system and causes loss of concentration. Simply put, it dulls the brain of its consumer.

Mankind has been bedeviled with the rising incidence of alcohol dependence and abuse. Despite this grave concern and the implication of alcohol dependence, its use continues to increase. Government and NGOs are spending millions of dollars combating the scourge of dependence on alcohol; researchers are also working very hard in their attempt to look for ways to find a lasting solution to this scourge. Records are filled with the environmental and health hazards this alcohol dependence cause. There are more than sixty different health issues caused by intake of alcohol (Room et al. 2005). In the U.S.A. alone, alcohol use and over indulgence in it causes two cardio vascular diseases and cancer (Mokdad et al. 2005)Download full Download Microsoft Word File
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TOPIC: Term Paper on Cognitive Behavioral Approach to Treating Alcohol Dependence Assignment

In view of these staggering facts, it is understandable why search and researches into the treatment of alcohol dependence is of essence. Results from researches involving notable scientist and academic researchers has demonstrated that a variety of approaches could be employed to help people with history of alcohol indulgence or dependence to either cut down on their intake or stop it entirely. Among the many approaches that have been espoused by these researchers, Twelve-step facilitation (TSF) (Nowinski et al. 1995), Motivational enhancement therapy (Miller et al. 1995), Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) (Carroll et al. 2008), e. t.. c. Of these modes of treatment, Cognitive-behavioral therapy has been reported as having the most desired effect n the patients.

Basic Information about CBT

Cognitive-behavioral therapy signifies that in order to treat the incidence of alcohol dependence in the patient, there should be an interaction between the patient's cognitive functions and his behaviors. The patient thoughts or 'ways of thinking' represent his cognitive function. His thoughts which are a result of his experiences can serve as stimuli that trigger certain behaviors. This therapy focuses on the patient's way of thinking, his beliefs, attitudes and the reasons that form the building blocks of his thinking. It builds on the fact that irrespective of the patient external stimuli, his thoughts control his behaviors and feeling. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is usually result-oriented and often short-term. It is made of sessions, which could be as many 16 and all these sessions are supervised by a therapist. For this therapy to be a success there must be some level of trust between the therapist and the patient. This will ensure easy flow of information from the patient to the therapist as this enables the therapist to have enough information on which to work on. The therapist helps the patient understand his thoughts and perceptions about his behavioral changes (Room, Babor and Rehm, 2005)

How CBT can be used in the treatment of alcohol dependence

Using Cognitive-behavioral therapy in treating alcohol dependence stems from the perspective that patient's action are controlled by the behaviors which also stem as a result of their experience. The alcohol dependents use it because it helps them solve certain depression, anxiety issues, etc. In order for CBT to be successful, he must (1) uncover the specific need, which is being satisfied by alcohol (2) device alternative ways of meeting those needs that alcohol provides for the patient. There are two major learning curves that can be identified on the patients; learning by association and consequence. These learning curves must be understood properly if any manner of assistance is to be given to the patient.

By association, the patient develops the urge to depend on alcohol by being close to the places where alcohol is sold and the people with whom he drinks with. This is a repetitive process to a point when the urge becomes uncontrollable. In learning by consequence, the patient responds to the after effect of taking alcohol. This could make him forget his worries, anxieties and problems, as a result he craves more alcohol to satisfy these needs. The first step is to identify these features so the patient learns from them. This can be achieved by two distinct approaches; the exposure therapy and the coping-skill therapy (Miller, Zweben, Diclemente and Rychtarik,1995).

The exposure therapy is also called 'cue' exposure therapy. In this, the patient is exposed to the stimuli that initially stimulate him to take alcohol without allowing alcohol to be taken. This is believed to lose the potency of the alcohol on the patient and eventually, the patient looses interest in taking alcohol to satisfy the needs. Laboratory findings have proved cue exposure approach as a very effective approach in preventing a relapse in patient. It is noted that with consistent exposure of the patient to this stimuli and disallowing the use of alcohol, that stimuli will lose its ability to initiate the urge to take it (Monti, Abrams, Kadden and Cooney, 1989).

Coping skill therapy is a bit different in approach to cue exposure. In this approach, the stimuli are not done away with. Stimulant signifies those things that make a patient crave for alcohol. The patient is trained alternative ways of confronting them. Armed with enough training, the patient is most likely going to use the alternative ways to respond when the need arises. Coping skill therapy is categorized into two for simplicity sake: (1) intra-personal skills and inter-personal skills. Intra-personal skills are those that require the alcohol dependent only. Intra-personal skills include:

Managing Thoughts and Cravings for Use

Anger Management

Negative Thinking

Pleasant Thinking

Relaxation Skills

Decision Making


Planning for Emergencies

Managing Thoughts and Cravings for Use:

The desire to drink emanates from the thought and it is then that patient would not survive without it. The therapist helps the patient by re-directing his thoughts. These thoughts can due to some tragic experiences. When such experiences are recalled, patients find solace in alcohol. On way to manage these thought is to make the patient write down these bitter experience he has had and confront them. By doing this, it is possible that the potency of the thoughts will come down and the patient will no longer indulge in the drinking habit or being dependent on alcohol as a means of getting rid of the thought (Nowinski, Baker and Caroll, 1995).

Anger Management: This is another precursor of indulgence in alcohol. In this process, the patient is taught to identify anger when it pops up like a seed. The patient is taught how to channel his focus from anger to something more productive like trying to settle the issue that is causing the anger. This is done by making him see the reason that anger will not get him the desired result; by making him write down the things that cause the anger and the better ways it can be tackled rather than shying away from the true fact that causes the anger

Negative thinking: This is another dangerous factor that the therapist needs to work on. Negative thinking could be as a result of low self-esteem; it could even be as a result of being battered. It is the duty of the therapist to find out the real cause of this negative thinking and help the patient develop skills that can downplay this thinking and possibly eradicate it. The patient could be taught to stop thinking about tragic experiences, Moreover, the patients can also be taught to divert to positive thinking. If negative thinking is a result of low self-esteem as identified by the therapist, the ego of the patient could be worked on so that he will view himself better then he is used to.

Pleasant Thinking: After an alcohol hangover, the patient may discover that he has no spare time to engage in recreational activities. The therapist can help him develop recreational activities that will give the patient a change of mood.

Relaxation skills: After a long day's work without any form of relaxation can possibly build up tension and stress within a recovering patient. For such patients, this can be a good reason for him to continue to depend on alcohol. The therapist only need to determine if relaxation skill is missing and if it is, then the therapist trains the patient on how to calm down and relax more often by doing the things they love doing.

Decision Making: The patient should be trained on how to make decision regarding certain situation that affects his life. The process empowers them to decide for themselves, after they must have been assisted in doing some decision-making training.… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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APA Style

Cognitive Behavioral Approach to Treating Alcohol Dependence.  (2012, February 15).  Retrieved October 21, 2021, from

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"Cognitive Behavioral Approach to Treating Alcohol Dependence."  15 February 2012.  Web.  21 October 2021. <>.

Chicago Style

"Cognitive Behavioral Approach to Treating Alcohol Dependence."  February 15, 2012.  Accessed October 21, 2021.