cognitive behavioral therapy for addiction

The Benefits of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Addiction Treatment

The “cognitive revolution” in psychology began in the 1960s. But, cognitive behavioral therapy was not introduced until the 1970s.

Today, many use cognitive behavioral therapy during treatment for substance abuse. It also plays a role in treatment for other common mental health disorders like anxiety and depression, for example.

Cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, may be used along with other therapeutic treatments to achieve the best results. It’s a form of treatment which is beneficial in both individual or group settings.

The primary goal of cognitive behavioral therapy is to understand the connection between thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. CBT aims to give patients other coping skills they can use to resist triggering situations and, in some cases, the event of a relapse.

If you or someone you love is thinking about seeking treatment for addiction, you may have heard about CBT. You may also be wondering what it is.

In this blog, we’ll explore cognitive behavioral therapy for addiction, how the treatment can be used, and some of the benefits. Read on to get started.

What Is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?

Cognitive behavioral therapy is a therapeutic approach to treatments. It focuses on goal setting and aims to correct problematic thought and behavior patterns. CBT also promotes positive changes, the use of coping mechanisms, and improved emotions.

During treatment, a therapist will work closely with the patient (or patients, if in a group setting) to impart a new set of skills. Each patient has a custom treatment plan which depends on the needs of each individual.

Unlike traditional psychotherapy or talk therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy involves more than a simple dialogue between patient and therapist. Instead, the CBT session revolves around the building of skills.

After each session, the patient is usually given homework to complete on his or her own time. As such, therapists who practice CBT act as teachers also.

Before a patient can benefit cognitive behavioral therapy, a strong bond between the therapist and patient must form. This bond encourages the patient to trust the therapist and helps to promote cooperation between both parties.

For this method of treatment to be successful, the patient must feel comfortable with his or her therapist and provide feedback. Then, the patient and therapist can make any necessary modifications.

What Type of Role Does CBT Play in Conjunction with Addiction Treatment?

When they are in an addiction treatment program, patients may utilize several different drug addiction counseling techniques. One of these may be cognitive behavioral therapy.

Because one of the primary goals of CBT is to empower each individual and encourage them to be able to rely on their own skills and abilities, patients learn to depend on themselves as opposed to their therapist.

If the patient completes their treatment program, they should carry the skills they’ve built throughout over to real life. Then, they can use the skills they’ve learned to resist triggering situations and avoid relapsing.

These skills will help them continue to lead a sober, healthy lifestyle outside of the treatment facility.

In an addiction treatment program or facility, CBT focuses on identifying patterns that lead to substance abuse. CBT works to eliminate them wherever possible. Patients learn how to identify situations they may find triggering. In addition, they also learn healthier ways to deal with situations and emotions which may otherwise lead to substance abuse.

CBT: How Does It Work?

At the first meeting, the therapist will ask the patient about their substance abuse history. Then, they will work together to identify negative behaviors to fix. The therapist will then watch the patient and asses their behavior to create a treatment plan.

Setting Goals

In CBT for substance abuse treatment, setting goals is crucial for success.

The therapist works with the patient to determine what outcomes they hope to achieve. When they’re just starting out, goals need to be small. Otherwise, they may discourage the patient if not achieved within the set timeframe.

In addition to the patient, these goals also help the therapist. They can use the patient’s goals as a metric to determine if the treatment is working and how well.

Problem Solving

Patients work with their therapist to identify stressors and learn new problem-solving skills. They also learn coping techniques to overcome them. And then, when a situation arises, they feel capable of working through it using their new skills.


It’s inevitable that patients will face stressful situations within their treatment program. Through using CBT, patients re-learn to relax. They also learn how to decrease stress, tension, and anxiety, making it easier to avoid relapse.

Behavioral Activation

Behavioral activation reintroduces fun activities into the patient’s life. These fun activities provide a way to mitigate negative thoughts and boost mood.


Patients receive homework assignments so they can continue to build skills outside of their CBT sessions.

The Benefits of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Addiction

Of course, for patients in addiction programs, CBT treatment can have a wide range of benefits. To give you an idea, below are a few of the most common ones:

  • CBT patients can apply the skills they learn in their own lives during and after treatment
  • CBT helps patients manage their emotions
  • CBT helps patients learn appropriate coping strategies
  • CBT works to prevent events like relapses

These are the biggest benefits of CBT in a rehab type environment.

A Final Note

Many use cognitive behavioral therapy for addiction because it’s a well-rounded form of therapy. It focuses on and highlights all important aspects of a recovering addict’s journey.

Patients learn problem-solving skills, coping mechanisms, and how to overcome stress. They can then use these skills in real life to avoid triggers and relapse.

If you’re looking for more valuable information, check out the rest of our blog.