Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Substance Use Disorders

Cognitive-behavioral therapy or CBT is a type of psychotherapy that focuses on the relationship between thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. CBT is particularly suitable for those suffering from SUD or substance use disorder. Therapy can help individuals with substance use disorders to change their attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors related to alcohol or drug use. 

CBT can include both individual sessions with a therapist as well as group sessions led by a therapist. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is one of the most effective treatments for addiction because it teaches people skills to cope with cravings and other challenging emotions without using drugs or alcohol. 

Research has shown that cognitive-behavioral therapy helps improve the person’s ability to stay sober and enhances their life’s quality since they are more likely to maintain healthy relationships, obtain employment, and avoid a relapse into addiction. Let’s dig a little deeper into why CBT is so successful.


What is CBT?

Cognitive-behavioral therapy or CBT is a form of psychotherapy that helps individuals recognize and change their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Trained therapists can use it for people with substance use disorders and those who have a significant problem with alcohol or drugs.  

Therapy can reduce cravings, prevent relapse after treatment completion, increase positive life skills such as coping skills and self-efficacy, decrease depression symptoms, including suicidal ideation or attempts at suicide. We know it works, but how does it work?

Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a type of talk therapy that helps people change their thoughts and behaviors towards addictive substances or behaviors. CBT teaches how cognitive functions work together with emotions or emotions learned from past experiences and includes lessons to stop people from repeating those same mistakes. 

The ultimate goal is to lead the addict down more constructive paths towards rehabilitation and find happiness rather than simply removing unwanted symptoms by medicating oneself against unpleasant feelings like anxiety or depression.  

Why do we need CBT for substance use disorders and addiction treatment alone (e.g., 12-step programs, outpatient counseling)?


CBT and Addiction 

Addiction is a challenging subject for many people. It can be hard to understand, difficult to cope with, and even more complex to help someone addicted. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is an evidence-based form of psychotherapy that focuses on changing thought processes, emotions, and behaviors to help people identify why they are addicted and help them to work through the issues that might be triggering them.

CBT will not cure addiction, but it will give hope for those struggling with their addiction or the family members looking on helplessly as their loved one’s life spirals out of control. 

In the past, drug addiction treatment has been based on a model of abstinence. This method is called “disease-centered” or “12-step” recovery. ThereIn recent years, there has been a shift to a new approach that uses cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT for substance use disorders is founded on the idea that people who are addicted may not stop using drugs without help but can learn techniques to manage their cravings and avoid triggers going forward.

The NIDA (National Institute of Drug Abuse) agrees that CBT for substance use disorders can reduce relapse rates by up to 50% compared with standard addiction treatments like 12 step programs alone. The NIDA is also found in studies done across five different countries, including Australia, Canada, and America.


How does CBT work? 

CBT works to help people with substance use disorders stop using substances and stay sober over the long term through a combination of cognitive restructuring and behavioral interventions that focus on changing thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and environmental factors that promote continued drug use.

The key to quitting drugs lies in changing the addict’s thoughts and behaviors. CBT helps by providing a safe space for people struggling with SUD to take advantage of the cognitive restructuring techniques, which will change the way they think about using substances in the long term.

Cognitive-behavioral therapists use this technique to change the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors associated with substance abuse, ultimately leading an addict away from harmful substances. 

Along with changed emotional responses, CBT focuses on physical changes within an individual. Treatment looks at and includes external factors, anything related (or not) around the addict that might distract from decision making. For example, making sure no visible signs promote continued drug consumption. Removing visible signs alone can make all the difference between success and failure.

Examples of CBT in Action

CBT can be applied in clinical settings such as hospitals or clinics to address substance abuse problems among patients with co-occurring psychiatric diagnoses.

In detail – CBT is a type of psychotherapy that helps people identify and change their thinking patterns. A therapist assists the person with cognitive restructuring to help them recognize irrational thoughts and replace them with more balanced or rational thoughts.

CBT aims to teach clients skills to cope better in difficult situations, including stress management, identifying negative thought patterns, and changing behaviors. 

Cognitive-behavioral therapy is often used in conjunction with other treatments such as medication or counseling for a broad approach. No one patient is the same, and therapists tailor therapy to suit each individual’s needs.

One such example is teaching patients how to control their anger by taking deep breaths before reacting when provoked; this is an example of CBT in action. Another example is helping someone overly concerned about a situation learn techniques for calming down to think logically about what they need to do next without feeling overwhelmed by the situation.

Addiction withdrawal can make any form of treatment difficult both for the person receiving treatment and the therapist providing treatment. Healthcare providers will advise the best course of action to ensure that any treatment is as successful as possible.


Make a Sober Choice

Many different types of therapy can be used to treat addiction. Each form of treatment has its strengths and weaknesses – CBT is just one form of therapy that has been proven effective for treating people who struggle with substance use disorders. 

CBT is an ideal choice if you or someone close to you struggles with substance abuse. The therapy helps addicts identify patterns in their thoughts and behaviors even when they’re sober and helps them change these habits over time without using drugs or alcohol as a crutch.


Information courtesy of Addiction Rehab Treatment