Seeking correct and directed treatment for addiction is often the most crucial part of the recovery process. Once you have decided to live on a sober life path, the first step is to choose a suitable treatment plan that offers a countermeasure for the symptoms you may experience early on. There are so many options available, however, not every option can be beneficial for everyone with a substance abuse disorder. Different people have a different level of addiction, with some even suffering from mental health issues along with addiction. The most common type of therapy often used by medical professionals to help patients in their battle against addiction is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). This therapy approach is extremely beneficial for the patients as it incorporates several methods, all of which are combined to get the best results. Therefore, it is crucial to know more about this therapy so that if you can help someone unsure about the right treatment to seek.

What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or CBT?

The therapy was initially developed to prevent relapse in patients suffering from drinking issues. Later, CBT was adapted for cocaine addiction and it was found to be helpful. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy focuses on the idea that in the development of addictive traits, the learning process has a crucial role to play. CBT focuses on these negative thoughts and corrects the problematic behaviors by applying different skills that can be used to stop substance abuse.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy uses two therapeutic approaches viz, cognitive, and behavioral therapy to target the thought processes that thrive the addictive traits. This is also known as talk therapy since the therapist uses talking as an alliance to promote healing and incite healthy behaviors. This therapy is often carried out by psychotherapists such as psychologists, psychiatrists, licensed social workers, and licensed professional counselors.

CBT is not heavily focused on the past as opposed to psychoanalysis. Instead, this approach is problem-oriented which helps a patient identify a pattern within their current life. While past events are also given the correct attention, the therapy revolves around identifying and changing current thoughts from which the addiction is sourcing from. In this process, the emotional reactions and damaging behaviors are also identified and altered to help the individual feel fewer cravings for substances.

How Does It Help In Addiction?

Addiction disorder targets the healthy functioning of the brain and alters its natural chemistry to make it depend on the harmful substances. This can create negative thoughts, emotional triggers, and unusual cravings for drug abuse. Also, any underlying mental illness or traumatic event can worsen this imbalance and drive a person more towards addiction. When clubbed together, these feelings can completely change the way a person views their substance abuse.

To help calm the mind and get rid of any negative thoughts or feelings that may fuel addiction, professional help and guidance are required to deal with the issue. Since the problems lie deep within our minds, leaving these untreated would evolve into something more destructive and can become even hard to manage afterward.

This is where cognitive behavioral therapy comes in. This approach breaks the cycle of negative thoughts and unhealthy emotions through therapy and helps the patient succeed in their fight against addiction. CBT also builds a solid foundation for recovery as it removes the negative thoughts that are causing addiction.

Techniques Used In Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

There are specific exercises that are used in addiction recovery. Some of the examples of such techniques are:

Thought Process

When you are suffering from addiction, it is important to have a healthy thought process to stop the cravings. In this technique, addicts examine the negative thoughts and either disprove or completely replace these with positive thoughts. The goal here is to help addicts think rationally and have a balanced approach in situations that can possibly push them to addiction.

Behavioral Therapy

CBT is more inclined towards comparing positive thoughts with the negative ones to see which is more impactful to bring behavioral change. Some patients have a good response to self-kindness, whereas others respond better to self-criticism. This technique is all about experimenting to figure out what works best for an individual.

Imagery Based Exposure

Sometimes, cravings are caused by a particular life event or a negative memory. In this technique, addicts think of a memory that incites powerful negative feelings. They note everything related to that memory and revisit the same moment repeatedly. These frequent revisits to the painful memories can reduce the anxieties and also the cravings.

Pleasant Activities

One of the best ways to deal with negative thoughts is to engage our minds in something more pleasant and happy. In this technique, a weekly list of fun activities is formed to get a healthy break from the daily chores of life. The tasks are kept simple and east with a prime objective to induce positive emotions. The positivity can fight negative thoughts and also reduce the urge to drink or consume.

Benefits of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Every addict struggling from addiction has a life event that is responsible for pushing them into addiction. The treatment programs are focused on identifying the source of addiction and work towards eliminating it so that the urge to consume is completely eradicated. Cognitive-behavioral therapy serves the same propose as it reduces self-destructive behaviors.

The following are the benefits of CBT:

  • Helps build coping skills to reduce the impact of stress.
  • Makes a person strong enough to deal with emotions more healthily.
  • Helps build resolving skills to fix relationships.
  • Improves a person’s communication skills so that they can talk when they need help.
  • Helps to deal with trauma.
  • Reduces symptoms of mental disorders.
  • Helps a person to be able to cope with a personal loss.
  • Prevents relapse.
  • Lends a helping hand to treat mental illnesses when medications are risky to be used.
  • Helps cope with chronic medical illnesses.

Since CBT targets the thought process, it has benefits that are far more than other psychological treatments like psychoanalysis.


Today, numerous treatment programs include cognitive behavioral therapy as their core part of the treatment process. It can either be used as a standalone therapy to cure addiction disorder or even better, can be used alongside the standard treatment procedures to elevate their benefits. Either way, the therapy is extremely beneficial to curb the negative thoughts and develop a positive approach towards life.

Talk to Someone Who’s Been There. Talk to Someone Who Can Help. Scottsdale Recovery Center® holds the highest accreditation (Joint Commission) and is Arizona’s premier rehab facility since 2009. Call 602-346-9142.