Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy for Alcohol Problems

Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy (REBT) has long been a useful treatment approach to alcohol and drug related problems. In fact, the founder of a national group self-help program, Rational Recovery ( now widely known as SMART Recovery, Jack Trimpy, attributes attaining sobriety by working with Dr. Albert Ellis, the founder of Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy.

The REBT model focuses in on recognizing and changing the thoughts that trigger or give rise to desires to drink and drug. Often times, alcohol and drugs are used to mask underlying feelings of anxiety and depression. We have all heard the expression of “drowning your sorrows” with alcohol. I have worked with many clients who use alcohol in an attempt to quiet their fears of flying on an airplane or drink to excess to reduce their worry when going out to a social situation to meet others. Another common expression is “take your swig of courage”.

REBT and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy teach individuals new ways to think and new skills to feel more comfortable and confident. People learn to replace negative thoughts like, “ It would be terrible if I were shot down when I asked a girl to dance” with thoughts like, “ No big deal. It’s disappointing she wasn’t interested, but I will stay positive and eventually connect with someone else.”

Behaviorally, a client might be taught how to relax to naturally lower their anxiety level or to improve their social and conversational skills so they can be more successful in approaching and conversing with new people they are interested in meeting. REBT does NOT believe that alcohol is a disease, that you are POWERLESS to do anything about it or that you have to ask god for help in overcoming to addiction! Rather, the power for self change lies within you and with an experienced knowledgeable psychologist or other skilled mental health professional who can teach and support you in changing your thinking and behavioral habits.

My solo practice is in Boca Raton, Florida. Boca Raton is known for several things including: a high concentration of “pain and medication clinics” and of 12- step recovery based programs, half-way houses and addiction counselors. While the AA way may be the way for many individuals striving for freedom from alcohol (The title of one of my self-help guidebooks!), it is not the ONLY way. Many individuals respond quite well to cognitive behavioral and related approaches for becoming and staying sober and free from drug addiction and abuse.

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