Cognitive-behavioral therapy for substance use disorders

Share this article:
Table of Contents
    Add a header to begin generating the table of contents

    Cognitive-behavioral approach is commonly used in various facilities in today’s addiction treatment. CBT encourages people in recovery from a drug abuse disorder to connect their emotions, ideas, and behaviors and be more aware of how these aspects affect their recovery. Cognitive-behavioral therapy helps patients confront troublesome beliefs and emotions to treat addiction. For people battling substance abuse disorders and mental health issues, CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) remains one of the most promising therapeutic options.

    Also, cognitive behavioral therapy is ideal for:

    • Eating and bipolar disorders
    • Anxiety and PTSD
    • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
    • ADD (attention deficit disorder)

    How cognitive behavioral therapy works

    Depression and anxiety disorders, which are typical co-occurring illnesses with addiction, are often caused by automatic negative thinking. This implies that automatic thinking may increase the likelihood of drug and alcohol abuse.

    According to cognitive behavioral therapy, many detrimental acts and feelings are neither rational nor logical. Past events or environmental factors may have influenced these behaviors and feelings. When a person who is addicted understands why they feel or behave the way they do and how those emotions and behaviors lead to drug abuse, they are more able to overcome their addiction.

    Therapists specializing in cognitive behavioral therapy work with recovering addicts to uncover their undesirable “automatic thinking.” Spontaneous thought is formed and is often spurred by misunderstandings and internalized emotions of self-doubt and dread.
    People often use drugs to self-medicate their unpleasant feelings and thoughts. Those in recovery might lessen the distress caused by terrible memories by revisiting them often. They may then replace their drug or alcohol usage with new, beneficial activities.
    Anticipating potential issues and strengthening patients’ self-control by assisting them in developing appropriate coping mechanisms is a critical component of CBT. Exploring the positive and negative effects of persistent drug abuse, self-monitoring to detect cravings early and identify circumstances that can put one at risk for use, and building skills for dealing with cravings and avoiding high-risk situations are some of the techniques employed.

    Benefits of cognitive-behavioral therapy for addiction

    Negative feelings and ideas might make a recovery more challenging for those who suffer from a drug or alcohol abuse problem. CBT may improve a person’s attitude and develop skills that support long-term rehabilitation since it focuses on recognizing and correcting such thinking patterns with more adaptive ones.

    CBT may help individuals who have a substance addiction in a variety of ways, including:

    • Identifying self-destructive thoughts and behaviors
    • Finding techniques to keep track of such thinking patterns.
    • Learning new, more adaptable thinking techniques
    • Using previously taught abilities in new settings and situations
    • Exploring new approaches to dealing with difficulties and stress

    According to research, the abilities learned during CBT are long-lasting and may be applied to various aspects of one’s life. Approximately 60% of patients who are treated for a drug abuse issue using cognitive behavioral therapy are able to maintain their recovery for a year.


    Overcoming substance use disorders involves multiple individuals and approaches. Drug addiction treatment centers usually help a recovering addict to be sober and prevent relapse. Professional therapists in these holistic treatment facilities teach all life skills necessary for a successful recovery. CBT can be used independently or combined with other strategies that have the potential to support long-term recovery from substance abuse.