Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Addiction

Addiction treatment can involve several types of therapy for substance use.1 Cognitive behavioral therapy for drug addiction is an evidence-based treatment that may be used to help people understand and change maladaptive thoughts and behaviors related to substance use.1

This article will help you understand what cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is, how it works in general, how it works for addiction, types of CBT, its effectiveness, and how to find cognitive behavioral therapy in Hollywood, FL.

What Is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?

CBT is a type of psychotherapy, or talk therapy, that focuses on the ways that a person’s thoughts and behaviors impact their psychological health.2 It is an addiction treatment therapy as well as a therapy that is used to treat a variety of disorders, including depression, anxiety disorders, eating disorders, and other forms of mental illness.2

CBT is based on the ideas that problems in a person’s life are impacted partly by faulty or unhelpful thoughts and partly through patterns of unhelpful learned behaviors, both of which can be improved by developing better coping skills that can help them lead more effective and healthy lives.2

CBT helps a person examine and change negative or disruptive thoughts and behaviors through the use of different strategies, which can include:2

  • Examining thoughts to see the ways they are creating problems, and then re-evaluating those thoughts.
  • Improving understanding of the motivations and behaviors of other people.
  • Learning problem-solving skills to cope with stressors and stressful situations.
  • Developing improved confidence in a person’s abilities.
  • Facing, instead of avoiding, fears.
  • Role-playing in therapy sessions to practice new ways of interacting in the real world.
  • Learning different ways to manage stress and calm down.

How Does Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Work?

CBT a collaborative process that relies on the partnership of the patient and their therapist.3 It is a present-focused and goal-oriented therapy that aims to help bring about specific positive or healthy changes so that people are able to function as soon as possible again without therapy.

Everyone’s experience during a CBT session is unique and treatment is designed to meet their specific needs.

The first session generally focuses on the presenting problem or the reason you came to therapy so you and your therapist can formulate a treatment plan based on your goals.3 The sessions thereafter focus on different strategies to help bring about change and may involve the use of journaling, relaxation methods, and problem-solving techniques, which you may practice with the therapist before applying them in the real world.3

In subsequent sessions, you’ll discuss your efforts and progress to determine whether changes or additional strategies may be needed.3

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Addiction

CBT for addiction treatment works similarly as sessions do outside of addiction treatment settings, but focuses specifically on substance use and related behaviors as the presenting problem(s).4 CBT involves the idea that substance misuse is influenced by learning processes and can be affected by a person’s thoughts and inability to cope with stressors in life and their external environment.1, 4

Cognitive behavioral therapy for addiction treatment may help reduce substance use in a number of ways, such as:4

  • It can help people anticipate problems and develop healthier ways of managing them (such as finding alternative behaviors to using substances when feeling stressed or anxious).
  • Helping people evaluate the pros and cons of substance use in their life.
  • Helps to identify and respond to triggers that can lead to a return to substance use.

While working with their therapist, people learn to recognize triggers and the thoughts, emotions, behaviors, and beliefs that accompany those triggers, and then work on ways of changing feelings and behaviors by changing their thoughts.4

Other Types of Behavioral Therapy

There are additional types of  behavioral therapy approaches that use similar strategies to those employed in CBT and that may be used depending on a person’s specific problems and/or the approach of the treatment center. Some of these include:

  • Rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT). REBT is considered the original cognitive behavioral therapy, and views irrational beliefs as the main cause of emotional distress. This therapy focuses on changing irrational beliefs into rational beliefs, so as to change dysfunctional emotions and maladaptive behaviors into functional and adaptive ones.8
  • Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT). ACT aims to help people accept urges and other symptoms related to substance misuse and helps them use psychological flexibility and value-based interventions to accept that these urges exist, rather than avoid or replace them, in order to overcome the challenges that they present.9
  • Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT). DBT focuses on two opposing principles: acceptance and change (the term dialectical refers to the synthesis of opposites).10 This therapy teaches people new skills to cope with life, aims to help people accept or tolerate the inevitable pain associated with living, and also helps them work on changing things that are within their capacity to influence (such as substance misuse).10  DBT techniques are generally employed when emotional dysregulation is identified as contributing to substance use, such as in co-occurring borderline personality disorder, or in patients who experienced significant past trauma.
  • Motivational interviewing (MI). MI is often used in conjunction with other types of evidence-based therapies, such as CBT, to help improve therapeutic outcomes. This approach helps people work through their ambivalence about making life changes.6 It can increase a person’s motivation to change and help them build a plan to make those changes.1

Is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Effective?

Yes, CBT can be effective for addiction treatment.5 While some CBT approaches can be useful as standalone treatments, it can be especially beneficial when used as a part of a comprehensive treatment program.1, 6 Some of the benefits of CBT can include:

  • Decreasing substance use.9
  • Learning to identify self-destructive thoughts and actions.1
  • Enhancing a person’s feeling of self-control.1
  • Learning more adaptive ways of thinking.1
  • Learning coping skills.1
  • Learning self-monitoring skills to recognize cravings early on.1
  • Learning healthy ways to deal with cravings.1
  • Learning ways to avoid high-risk situations.1
  • Increasing effective interpersonal skills so people can build relationships that are not based on substance use.9

CBT and Addiction Treatment in Hollywood, FL

If you or a loved one are struggling with substance misuse or addiction, you should know that treatment and inpatient therapy near you can help. Please contact our admissions navigators at to learn more about CBT in Hollywood, FL or other types of addiction treatment at our Miami metro area inpatient drug & alcohol rehab, and find out how to start treatment today.

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