Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) for Addiction Treatment

Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) is a type of psychotherapy that is designed to help people change their thoughts and beliefs surrounding addiction. Several rehab facilities incorporate REBT into their programs of recovery.

Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy Woman Smiling

Addiction treatment centers often incorporate a variety of different therapies to meet the needs of each patient. A common therapy that may be offered at a rehab facility is Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy or REBT. REBT was one of the first recognized forms of cognitive-behavioral therapy and continues to be highly successful in addiction treatment.

What Is Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy?

REBT is a form of psychotherapy that teaches individuals how to change their thinking in a way that promotes healthy behaviors and beliefs. This form of treatment works especially well in the case of substance use disorders and mental health conditions. Because addiction is often the result of dysfunctional thoughts and behaviors, REBT is especially useful in teaching individuals new ways to think and behave.

Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy is based on the belief that most people think irrationally about their lives. For example, someone may believe that he or she must perform perfectly at work or else he or she will be considered a failure. While other people can spot the irrationality in this thinking, the person with this belief often cannot.

Irrational thinking can result in destructive and disturbing feelings and behaviors as a person try to live up to his or her skewed beliefs of reality. Because irrational beliefs of how life should be can rarely be lived up to, people suffer from feelings of defeat and inadequacy. This can fuel the cycle of addiction and contribute to other mental health disorders like depression and anxiety.

The goal of REBT is to teach individuals how to realize and counter their irrational beliefs. By doing so, people can embrace more realistic expectations and goals and decrease their destructive behaviors and feelings. As a result, self-destructive behaviors such as substance abuse may be reduced.

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How Does Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy Work?

REBT emphasizes the philosophy that rather than life events being the reason someone becomes upset, it’s his or her beliefs surrounding the events that negatively impacts a person. As such, REBT focuses first and foremost on changing a person’s beliefs in relation to life.

Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy focuses on three irrational thoughts that many people hold. These thoughts are sometimes referred to as the “Three Basic Musts.”

The “Three Basic Musts” according to REBT include:

  • an irrationally high expectation to perform well and gain approval from others in order to be worthy
  • an irrationally high expectation of others and to be treated fairly and kindly by others at all times
  • an irrationally high expectation to always get what one wants

While people often have a number of irrational beliefs, the Three Basic Musts encompass the major themes that surround these beliefs. Having these beliefs can lead to negative feelings and thoughts, which in turn can result in destructive behaviors like substance abuse.

According to REBT, addiction arises as a result of counterproductive thoughts, behaviors, and feelings. The goal of REBT is to reverse these habits by replacing them with more realistic and positive tendencies.

The following are the basic premises of how REBT works to change addictive thoughts and behaviors:

  • Changing Thoughts — Many people who are addicted to drugs or alcohol have absolutism thinking. This means that they believe they must use drugs or alcohol or else they won’t make it. REBT counteracts these thoughts by encouraging individuals to think through and question their thinking.
  • Changing Visualization (Images) — Individuals struggling with addiction often have low esteem and trouble visualizing themselves in a positive light. REBT helps people improve their self-image and gain confidence in themselves.
  • Changing Behavior — Irrational thoughts often lead to irrational behaviors. This is especially true in the case of addiction. Many people who are addicted to substances feel, and act on, the urgent need to use drugs or alcohol. REBT helps people address their irrational behaviors and think through behaviors before acting.

The Methods Of Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy

There are three main methods used to address the irrational thinking and behaviors of a person struggling with drug or alcohol addiction. Through these methods, individuals can actively change the way they respond to life events and reduce substance abuse.

The first method used in REBT is disputing negative thoughts. This is done by challenging negative beliefs and absolutist thinking. By doing so, an individual can counter irrational thinking and behavior.

The second method is teaching a person how to value his or her insights. This involves helping individuals learn and believe in positive beliefs. The more a person holds fast to positive beliefs, the less likely he or she is to participate in destructive behaviors like substance abuse.

The last method used in REBT is learning how to practice acceptance. This method emphasizes the acceptance of people, places, and things just as they are. It also focuses on helping people to accept themselves, which can promote more positive feelings and thoughts.

Finding An Addiction Treatment Program That Offers REBT

Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy can be a positive part of recovery treatment. Several rehab facilities incorporate this form of therapy into their programs of recovery.

To learn more about REBT and to be connected with a treatment facility that offers this therapy, contact an Addiction Campuses’ treatment specialist today.

National Institute on Drug Abuse - https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/treatment-approaches-drug-addiction

Psychology Today - https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-three-minute-therapist/201506/rational-emotive-behavior-therapy-rebt-addiction

SMART Recovery - https://www.smartrecovery.org/smart-articles/introduction-to-rebt/

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