Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Addiction

How Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Works

According to the National Association for Mental Illness, cognitive-behavioral therapy differs from other therapy forms because the patient and therapist can actively work together to set and accomplish goals that are geared towards helping them recover from their mental illness.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a common type of psychotherapy (talk therapy) that is frequently used in treatment facilities to help patients overcome addictions to both drugs and alcohol. It requires you to structurally work with a certified mental illness counselor and attending a limited number of sessions where coping strategies and other skills can be learned.


This growing form of research-based treatment helps you become more aware of negative emotions and thought patterns. This is beneficial because, then, stressful situations can be processed and responded to in a much more effective and positive way. There are many cases where CBT has been seen to be most effective when combined with other treatment methods or medications.


The realization of how many adverse decisions, such as fueling a substance use disorder or other addictive behaviors, is not a rational or logical action, is one of the many things that are learned during cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) sessions.

Who Needs CBT Treatment?

Cognitive-behavioral therapy is an excellent addition to an individual’s drug addiction treatment plan because of the wide variety of issues that can be pointed out. Since CBT treatment programs are particular and structured, rehab centers typically recommend fewer sessions than the other types of therapy that are available.

The ability to address any re-occurring disorders and dual diagnosis symptoms is what makes this therapy unique. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is known to help individuals struggling with tricky emotional issues such as:

Grief and coping the loss of a close friend or family member

Managing chronic physical or psychological symptoms

Avoiding the negative thoughts of a possible mental health condition relapse

The need to treat for a mental illness when the use of medications is a bad option

Recognizing and controlling specific emotions

Wanting to overcome any abuse-related emotional trauma

The need to develop coping skills to manage the more stressful life situations

Finding ways to resolve relationship issues while learning a variety of communication skills

CBT has also been an effective form of treatment for those who want to lessen the burdens of their mental health disorders. A couple of the mental health conditions CBT is frequently recommended to treat for include:

Eating disorder

Substance abbuse disorders

OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder)

Anxiety disorder


Sleeping disorders

Bipolar disorder



Benefits of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy

As a research-based treatment process, CBT has proven to show most effective when treating for drug or alcohol addictions, and for specific diagnosed mental health complications. It is entirely reasonable for those who struggle with substance abuse and addiction to exhibit negative thoughts and actions. Not recognizing these patterns can quickly become harmful and often require treatments such as CBT to combat and eliminate those negative external influences.

When stating that CBT is very well structured, few other therapies are as problem-focused, goal-directed, and present-orientated than proper cognitive-behavioral therapy has proven to be. The strong foundation and organization of this treatment are capable of providing a vast number of benefits, most notably to include the following:

  • CBT sessions can be customized depending on the patient’s needs and can be provided in both group and individual therapy settings
  • CBT provides the necessary help and coaching that is needed to develop and implement coping strategies that the patient will be able to use throughout the rest of their lives
  • CBT gives each patient a comfortable setting where they can establish healthy relationships with their therapist so that working closely to improve on their issues is possible. Also, you are able to work to accomplish goals that have been set collectively
  • CBT methods can explore the behavior and thought patterns that may lead to self-harming or destructive behaviors.

Getting Started

Many people have done their own research and made the decision without the help of others to begin treatment in the form of cognitive-behavioral therapy. Recommendations from doctors are also commonly seen as the primary reason why people choose to explore this form of treatment. Getting started with CBT treatment is a nearly effortless and painless process. The main three steps to get the ball rolling include:

1. Finding a Therapist

Getting a referral from your doctor, health care provider, family member, or other friends you trust are useful resources when searching for a therapist best suited for you. Many employers also provide counseling services and the ability to get referrals through employee assistance programs, or EAP’s. Of course, you can also find a therapist to work with yourself.

2. Understand the costs

You should first find out what type of coverage is available through your insurance provider for psychotherapy treatment. There are a number of healthcare plans that only cover a specific amount of these sessions each calendar year. Talking with the therapist about the fees and payment options is also a credible source where you can get this information.

3. Review your concerns

To ensure the best possible outcomes are obtained, potential patients are encouraged to think about some specific issues that would like to be improved. While this process of identifying the most critical issues can be done with your therapist, having some sense and time to ponder them may provide a more accurate and useful starting point.

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