Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for addiction abuse (2023)

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) has become very popular over the past decade. What Exactly Is CBT And Why Is It Growing In Popularity?

CBT is a form of psychotherapy that helps people change their thoughts and behavior. The goal of CBT for substance abuse is to identify negative thought patterns and replace them with positive ones. CBT is commonly used to treat a variety of mental illnesses, such as anxiety disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder, phobias, panic attacks, and depression.

CBT was invented in the 1950s by Dr. Aaron Beck, who believed that our thoughts influence our emotions and behavior. The rationale of CBT for addiction is that if we can understand how our thoughts affect our feelings and actions, we will be able to control our thoughts and thus improve our emotional well-being.

To learn more about Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for substance use disorders, including its key principles, how it works in practice, its scope, and side effects, take a look at the information below.

What is cognitive behavioral therapy?

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), sometimes called acceptance and attachment therapy, is based on two ideas:

  1. Thoughts influence behavior. So if you think badly of yourself, you will act badly towards yourself.
  2. When you're unhappy, focus on what you don't like rather than what you like.

To help you overcome your problems, cognitive behavioral therapists use two main techniques: cognitive restructuring and exposure.

cognitive restructuring

Cognitive restructuring involves identifying your negative thoughts and replacing them with more balanced thoughts. For example, you might have an intrusive thought about harming yourself.

This can lead to feelings of anxiety and worry. You can try to think of something else, e.g. B. What you would say to a friend if they had similar thoughts.


Exposure means consciously exposing yourself to situations that are likely to trigger your anxiety. For example, you could start walking down a street that is lined with cars. If you find it difficult, you can take the bus or train.

other techniques

In addition to utilizing the two main concepts of cognitive restructuring and exposure, a CBT and addiction therapist will likely employ a variety of other techniques and methods to achieve the desired outcome. These include:

(Video) Introduction to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Substance Use Disorders

  • Talk therapies such as counseling and psychotherapy.
  • relaxation exercises.
  • self-monitoring.
  • Troubleshooting.
  • mindfulness training.
  • Exercise.
  • diets and exercise programs.
  • training of coping skills.

How does cognitive behavioral therapy for substance abuse work?

CBT can look different for different people. This is because CBT practitioners for drug addicts often use it in combination with other forms of therapy. However, most cognitive behavioral therapies start by helping you identify negative thoughts.

For example, if you're constantly concerned about how fat you are, you might ask yourself questions like these:

"Am I really concerned about my weight?" "Is it normal to worry so much about my body?"

Then you write down all the answers. Then you would check your answers. And you would decide whether they are true or false. It helps you see that some of your worries are irrational. It also teaches you to question negative beliefs.

Then you would learn to replace them with positive, more factual ones. For example you can say:

"I am healthy."

Or maybe you tell yourself that you have a lot of energy.

Eventually, you would learn to make decisions based on facts, not emotions. For example, instead of choosing to avoid a certain social situation because of your negative body image, you will participate because you know you are healthy.

Who can help TCC?

CBT can help anyone suffering from a mental health problem. It is most commonly used for people suffering from anxiety disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and depression, but it is also used to treat eating disorders, phobias, panic attacks, PTSD, substance abuse, and many others.

In fact, CBT isn't just useful for treating mental illness; It can also be helpful with issues like stress, anger management, and weight loss. It is often used in conjunction with other activities such as exercise or mindfulness.

(Video) Cognitive Behavior Therapy for Substance Use Disorders: From Theory to Practice

What are the benefits of CBT?

CBT has proven effective in treating a variety of mental illnesses. Here's why:

  • CBT for substance use works by teaching new ways of thinking and behaving.
  • CBT encourages you to become aware of your own thoughts, feelings and behaviors.
  • CBT helps you understand what is causing your symptoms.
  • CBT helps you change the way you think, feel and behave.
  • CBT addiction techniques allow you to take control of your life.
  • CBT can help you overcome any obstacles that stand between you and achieving your goals.
  • TCC provides tools to help you deal better with difficult situations.
  • CBT enables you to live a happier, healthier life.

How is CBT different from other forms of psychotherapy?

CBT differs from other forms of psychotherapy in several important ways. First, CBT focuses on changing your behavior while other types of psychotherapy focus primarily on changing your thoughts.

Second, CBT involves learning to recognize and correct maladaptive patterns of thought and behavior. Third, CBT is goal-oriented. Fourth, CBT emphasizes self-monitoring and self-assessment. Finally, CBT uses behavioral experiments to test its theories.

Why does CBT work so well?

There are two main reasons why CBT is a particularly powerful form of therapy.

First, CBT is based on solid scientific research. CBT was developed using cognitive psychology, which studies how we process information. Cognitive psychologists have found that people tend to fall into certain thought patterns when confronted with stressful events.

These patterns can cause us to experience strong emotional responses. By helping you identify these patterns and replacing them with more accurate ones, CBT can help you get rid of unwanted emotions.

Second, CBT is highly structured. Unlike some other therapies, CBT does not rely on free association. Instead, it teaches specific techniques for identifying and correcting negative thoughts. This makes it easier to learn, teach and apply CBT in everyday situations.

It's also interesting to note that CBT can be effective even when you don't fully believe that your thoughts are causing your symptoms. In fact, research shows that CBT is just as effective in treating people who are skeptical about its effectiveness as those who are completely convinced.

Does CBT Cause Any Side Effects?

The good news is that there is no evidence that CBT causes long-term harm. However, there are risks involved. For example, if you try to change your thinking without changing your actions, you are likely to fail.

As you become successful, you may find that you begin to think differently about yourself and others. You may start blaming yourself or others for things that weren't really your fault. You might end up feeling depressed and anxious.

(Video) A Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Exercise for Addiction Recovery

There is also a risk that you will become obsessed with wanting to control everything in your life. This can lead to feelings of frustration and anger. As such, while not particularly dangerous, CBT is not without its risks or difficulties either.

So if you are interested in CBT, it is of paramount importance that you receive therapy from a trained professional. A trained CBT therapist will be able to provide appropriate advice and monitor for negative consequences of therapy.

How do I know what type of therapy to try?

There are many different types of therapies and variations of CBT. What you need depends on what problem you want to solve. For example, you can choose between:

  • Acceptance and attachment therapy.
  • Rational Emotional Behavior Therapy.
  • Interpersonal Psychotherapy.
  • Dialectical behavioral therapy.
  • Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy.
  • Analytical Cognitive Therapy.
  • Solution-focused brief therapies.
  • Rational Recovery Techniques.
  • Functional family therapy.
  • Conscious Consciousness Practices.
  • mindfulness meditation
  • relationship framework theory.
  • Treatment of narrative exposure.
  • Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing.
  • Hypnotherapy.
  • PNL.
  • EMDR.

Don't worry - we know this list is overwhelming! If you need CBT for alcoholism, substance abuse, or any other type of therapy, you don't have to decide which type is right for your needs. Your first point of contact is your family doctor. Your doctor will be able to advise you on the type of therapy you need for your condition.

If you start a certain therapy afterwards but feel like it's not right for you – that's perfectly fine and normal! All you have to do is share your concerns with your qualified therapist and they can advise you on how to proceed.

How to get TCC

To get CBT for substance abuse, you must first make an appointment with your doctor. Once you've been diagnosed with depression, anxiety, OCD, or another mental illness, your doctor will refer you to a psychiatrist or psychologist who specializes in CBT for addiction.

Once you have done this, your therapist will work with you to develop a plan for managing your condition. Not only will this plan provide you with a concrete path to better health, it should be completely tailored to your lifestyle and personal needs.

We know these steps can be daunting. However, they are necessary steps on the road to better mental health. If you're worried about asking for help, you can always bring a close friend or family member with you. If that's not a viable option, you can turn to mental health charities for support.

How to prepare for CBT

Before participating in CBT sessions, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, you may need to find your own therapist. In this case, you can find a therapist through a local or state mental health association, or by searching online.

We recommend arranging a few introductory sessions with several different therapists. The relationship between you and your therapist is very important.

(Video) Frank's Experience in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Substance Use Disorders

If you don't feel comfortable with your therapist's methods or feel unable to share things with them, your treatment will be compromised.

Therefore, it is necessary to prepare for the possibility that the chosen therapist will not work. This is normal and okay - there is a wide range of therapists to choose from. Sometimes finding the right thing can be a journey, but it's definitely a journey worth taking.

You also need to be well prepared for the cost of therapy. If you have health insurance, you need to find out what coverage it offers for your treatment. You can also discuss payment options and fees with your chosen therapist.

Finally, it always helps to have some concerns and issues in mind before the first session. We recommend making a list of topics that you would like to discuss with your therapist so that you can discuss them fully in your first session.


Depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and other mental health issues can affect anyone at any time. They can cause serious problems and damage your physical and mental well-being.

Fortunately, there are effective treatments that can help you overcome them. We hope this guide has helped you understand more about cognitive behavioral therapy for addiction and its benefits.

Cognitive behavioral therapy techniques for addiction pdf

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How does cognitive behavioral therapy work for substance abuse? ›

Cognitive behavioral therapy is used widely today in addiction treatment. CBT teaches those in treatment for a substance use disorder (SUD) to find connections between their thoughts, feelings, and actions and increase awareness of how these things impact recovery.

What is Behavioural therapy for substance abuse? ›

Behavioral therapies focus on changing an individual's behaviors concerning substance misuse, in part by teaching life skills that help them to better cope with situations that may lead to substance misuse and relapse.

What are the methods techniques used by CBT in treating addiction? ›

In substance use treatment, this can include CBT techniques for addiction like exploring the negative and positive consequences of continuing to drink or misuse substances, learning to calm your mind and body, and using role-play with a therapist to prepare for difficult situations.

What is the cognitive Behavioural model of addiction? ›

Cognitive behavioural models of substance use

The construct of self-efficacy and outcome expectancies or beliefs associated with the consumption of substances and coping with addiction are the most significant contributions of this theoretical model8.

What is the best psychological treatment for addiction? ›

Behavioral therapy is perhaps the most commonly utilized types of treatment for addiction that is frequently used during substance rehabilitation. A general behavioral therapeutic approach has been adapted into a variety of effective techniques.

What are the three things that cognitive behavioral therapist are advised to do? ›

There are a number of techniques your therapist might use during a session, but some of the most popular involve: setting achievable goals. practicing cognitive restructuring. journaling.

What are some behavioral therapy techniques? ›

Some of the techniques that are most often used with CBT include the following 9 strategies:
  • Cognitive restructuring or reframing. ...
  • Guided discovery. ...
  • Exposure therapy. ...
  • Journaling and thought records. ...
  • Activity scheduling and behavior activation. ...
  • Behavioral experiments. ...
  • Relaxation and stress reduction techniques. ...
  • Role playing.
Dec 12, 2019

What are the four behavior therapy techniques? ›

Behavioral therapy techniques use reinforcement, punishment, shaping, modeling, and related techniques to alter behavior. These methods have the benefit of being highly focused, which means they can produce fast and effective results.

What are the disadvantages of cognitive behavioral therapy? ›

Some of the disadvantages of CBT to consider include:
  • you need to commit yourself to the process to get the most from it – a therapist can help and advise you, but they need your co-operation.
  • attending regular CBT sessions and carrying out any extra work between sessions can take up a lot of your time.

What are the 5 steps of CBT? ›

5 Easy Steps to Changing Your Thinking Using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
  • Step One – Make A List.
  • Step Two – Record Unproductive Thoughts.
  • Step Three – Create Replacement Thoughts.
  • Step Four – Read Your List Often.
  • Step Five – Notice And Replace.
Oct 12, 2017

What is coping strategy in CBT? ›

CBT coping skills involve dealing with negative emotions in a healthy way. They provide strategies for getting through difficult situations with less tension, anxiety, depression, and stress.

What are CBT based interventions? ›

CBT interventions provide a simple way of understanding challenging situations and problematic reactions to them. Cognitive behavioral therapy emphasizes three main components implicated in psychological problems: thoughts, emotions, and behaviors.

What are the 4 theories of addiction? ›

These include Negative Reinforcement (“Pain Avoidance”), Positive Reinforcement (“Pleasure Seeking”), Incentive Salience (“Craving”), Stimulus Response Learning (“Habits”), and Inhibitory Control Dysfunction (“Impulsivity”).

What are the cognitive factors of addiction? ›

From a psychological and neurological perspective, addiction is a disorder of altered cognition. The brain regions and processes that underlie addiction overlap extensively with those that are involved in essential cognitive functions, including learning, memory, attention, reasoning, and impulse control.

What are the three parts of the cognitive behavioral model? ›

There are threee main components of cognitive behavioral therapy: cognitive therapy, behavioral therapy, and mindfulness-based therapies.

What is a good treatment plan for substance abuse? ›

Example treatment objectives include:

To journal daily. To attend weekly counseling sessions with a therapist. To attend weekly support group meetings. To complete 12-Step Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous program.

What are some interventions for substance abuse? ›

Non-Medication Interventions
  • Counseling. Counseling is a general term to describe talk therapy with a professional whose chief aim is to help the patient stop their drug use. ...
  • Group Therapy. ...
  • Family and Couples Counseling. ...
  • Methadone. ...
  • Buprenorphine. ...
  • Oral Naltrexone. ...
  • Injectable Naltrexone. ...
  • Disulfiram.

What are the three main psychological theories of addiction? ›

There are several theories that model addiction: genetic theories, exposure theories (both biological and conditioning), and adaptation theories.

Who does CBT not work for? ›

2. In some cases cognitive behavior therapy stresses the therapy technique over the relationship between therapist and patient. If you are an individual who is sensitive, emotional, and desires rapport with your therapist, CBT may not deliver in some cases.

What disorder responds best to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy? ›

Mental health disorders that may improve with CBT include:
  • Depression.
  • Anxiety disorders.
  • Phobias.
  • PTSD.
  • Sleep disorders.
  • Eating disorders.
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Substance use disorders.
Mar 16, 2019

What is the difference between behavioral therapy and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy? ›

Cognitive Therapy – This type of therapy challenges thoughts, , which leads to better behavior and mood. Behavioral Therapy – This type of therapy uses behavioral approaches to change or alter behaviors for improved outcomes.

Can I do CBT on my own? ›

If you've wanted to try CBT for anxiety or depression but aren't able to see a CBT therapist, you may not need to. Many studies have found that self-directed CBT can be very effective.

What are examples of CBT skills? ›

The nine techniques and tools listed below are some of the most common and effective CBT practices.
  • Journaling. ...
  • Unraveling cognitive distortions. ...
  • Cognitive restructuring. ...
  • Exposure and response prevention. ...
  • Interoceptive exposure. ...
  • Nightmare exposure and rescripting. ...
  • Play the script until the end. ...
  • Progressive muscle relaxation.
Mar 20, 2017

What are examples of CBT goals? ›

An example of a CBT SMART goal in action

Specific: I want to walk in the park next to my house every day for 30 minutes. Measurable: I can make a diary to record how often I have been out for and for how long. Achievable: I can take the dog with me so that I have to go out.

Which therapy works well for compulsive and obsessive behavior fears phobias and addictions? ›

Behavioural therapy.

Behavioural therapy often works well for compulsive and obsessive behaviours, fears, phobias and addictions.

What is another name for cognitive behavioral therapy? ›

Some forms of Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) you may encounter include: Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) Cognitive Therapy (CT) Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

What is the most common type of behavioral therapy? ›

Cognitive behavioral therapy is extremely popular. It combines behavioral therapy, which focuses on patterns of action, with cognitive therapy, which focuses on patterns of thought. Treatment is centered around how your thoughts and beliefs influence your actions and moods.

Is cognitive behavioral therapy good for trauma? ›

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is the most effective treatment for PTSD. CBT usually involves meeting with a therapist weekly for up to four months. The two most effective types of CBT for PTSD are Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) and Prolonged Exposure (PE).

Is CBT Gaslighting? ›

CBT as a modality is based around gaslighting. It's all about telling a patient that the world is safe, bad feelings are temporary, and that pain (emotional or physical) is a “faulty or unhelpful” distortion of thinking. That's literally in CBT's definition on the APA website.

Why is CBT not helpful? ›

First, the sort of issues CBT draws attention to – bias, false beliefs, poor inferences – are all relatively common, even in mentally healthy people. As a great deal of psychological research has shown, we are all prone to poor reasoning.

How can I practice CBT at home? ›

How to Practice CBT at Home
  1. Fully Focus on Your Thoughts. CBT requires an intense focus on the thoughts that come to mind throughout the day. ...
  2. Schedule Your Day with Manageable Tasks. ...
  3. Relaxation Techniques. ...
  4. Reframe Your Thought Patterns.

How do you structure a CBT session? ›

The components of a typical CBT session include:
  1. A brief mood check.
  2. A bridge from the previous session.
  3. The setting of an agenda.
  4. A review of the previous session's homework assignment.
  5. A discussion of agenda items.
  6. A homework assignment.
  7. A final summary.
Jun 24, 2015

How long does it take for CBT to work? ›

A highly effective psychotherapy called cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) focuses on how our thoughts, beliefs, and attitudes can affect our feelings and behavior. Traditional CBT treatment usually requires weekly 30- to 60-minute sessions over 12 to 20 weeks.

What questions are asked in cognitive behavioral therapy? ›

20 CBT Therapy Question to ask Clients
  • What were you feeling right before you did that? (Affective)
  • What happens to you physically before this happens? ...
  • How do you normally act right before this happens? (Behavioral)
  • What thoughts go through your mind before this happens? (Cognitive)
Feb 7, 2020

What are 5 good coping strategies? ›

Healthy Ways to Cope with Stress
  • Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including those on social media. ...
  • Take care of yourself. ...
  • Take care of your body. ...
  • Make time to unwind. ...
  • Talk to others. ...
  • Connect with your community- or faith-based organizations.
  • Avoid drugs and alcohol.

What are the 5 types of coping skills? ›

There are five main types of coping skills: problem-focused strategies, emotion-focused strategies, meaning making, social support, and religious coping.

How to do CBT with a client? ›

Conducting Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) seems pretty straightforward: you explain to the client how thoughts lead to feelings. You examine the client's beliefs. You show them how they are distorting their thoughts, leading to negative feelings. You help the client change their thoughts.

Why is CBT good for substance use? ›

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Substance Abuse

Some of the primary goals of CBT are to help bring awareness to and correct maladaptive behavioral patterns, enhance motivation for change, and develop healthy coping skills, all of which can be beneficial in substance use treatment.

Is cognitive-behavioral therapy as effective as drugs? ›

Cognitive-behavioral therapy, interpersonal psychotherapy and antidepressant medications have all been shown to be helpful, and some evidence suggests that combining psychotherapy and medications may be more effective than either treatment alone.

What is the advantage of cognitive therapy over drugs when treating depression? ›

In addition to effectively managing acute episodes of unipolar major depression, cognitive therapy also can prevent relapse. One study4 showed that cognitive therapy significantly reduced the risk of relapse compared with discontinuation of medication.

Does CBT reduce relapse? ›

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can improve symptoms of anxiety and depression, but also reduces the risk of future relapse after therapy completion. However, current CBT relapse prevention methods are resource-intensive and can be limited in clinical practice.

Why is CBT better than drug therapy? ›

Meta-analytic reviews in general find that CBT and medication both work similarly well in the short-term, but that after treatment ends CBT tends to yield better results. This is because the skills people learn during a course of CBT can enable them to maintain the progress made after the treatment ends.

What are five types of therapy that can be used to treat alcoholism? ›

We may receive advertising fees if you follow links to promoted online therapy websites.
  • Talk Therapy. ...
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) ...
  • Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) ...
  • Motivational Interviewing. ...
  • 12-Step Facilitation. ...
  • Yoga And Meditation. ...
  • Art And Music Therapy. ...
  • Online Therapy.
Jan 3, 2023

What is CBT most effective for? ›

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a talking therapy that can help you manage your problems by changing the way you think and behave. It's most commonly used to treat anxiety and depression, but can be useful for other mental and physical health problems.

What are the negative effects of CBT? ›

You may cry, get upset or feel angry during a challenging session. You may also feel physically drained. Some forms of CBT, such as exposure therapy, may require you to confront situations you'd rather avoid — such as airplanes if you have a fear of flying. This can lead to temporary stress or anxiety.

What is the success rate of cognitive behavioral therapy? ›

How Effective is CBT? Research shows that CBT is the most effective form of treatment for those coping with depression and anxiety. CBT alone is 50-75% effective for overcoming depression and anxiety after 5 – 15 modules.

Why is CBT ineffective? ›

First, the sort of issues CBT draws attention to – bias, false beliefs, poor inferences – are all relatively common, even in mentally healthy people. As a great deal of psychological research has shown, we are all prone to poor reasoning.

Can CBT heal trauma? ›

CBT has been found to be a safe and effective therapy for both acute and chronic PTSD after a variety of traumatic experiences, in adults and children, and across many cultures.

Does CBT rewire your brain? ›

CBT works by basically coaching your brain through a different reaction process, which can be either thoughts or behaviors, and therefore rewiring the brain and changing those neural pathways over time.

Why do people relapse after CBT? ›

On average, 23.8% of patients experienced relapse following completion of CBT. A total of 21 predictors were identified and grouped into seven categories: residual symptoms; personality disorders; medication; clinical features; stressful life-events; degree of improvement; and demographics.


1. Cognitive Therapy for Addictions Video
2. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) Skills and Counseling Techniques with Dr. Dawn-Elise "Doc" Snipes
(Doc Snipes)
3. CBT Role-Play - Treating Heroin Use
(Dr. Todd Grande)
4. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for Substance Abuse
(ChoicePoint Health)
5. What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?
(Psych Hub)
6. Couples Therapy for Addictions: A Cognitive-Behavioral Approach


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