The Role of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) in Addiction Treatment

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Millions of people in the United States are living with substance abuse and addiction. These conditions are serious and complex. Living with a substance abuse disorder can take a toll on your physical and emotional health. It can drastically impact your quality of life by making it difficult to have healthy relationships or maintain a basic standard of life. I

Addiction can be treated but never cured. Comprehensive treatment that addresses the physical, environmental, and psychological aspects of addiction can help people cope with the effects of addiction and embrace sobriety. High-quality, effective treatment programs utilize a combination of evidence-based therapies and holistic practices.

Counseling is one important aspect of effective addiction treatment. One common form of counseling, called cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), is an effective form of therapy that can be highly effective in a treatment setting. Learning about this common addiction therapy approach can help you know what to expect during treatment.

If you or someone you love requires treatment, reach out to the caring specialists at New Jersey Addiction Interventions for more information about our range of supportive programs.

What is Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)?

Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a form of mental health therapy that is used in a variety of treatment programs and at all levels of care in addiction treatment. This type of individual therapy is used to help people identify thoughts, reactions, and beliefs that contribute to destructive behaviors. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is:

  • Goal-oriented
  • Effective in a short period of time
  • Focused on changing behaviors
  • Used to help people identify destructive patterns, thoughts, and behaviors

Addiction specialists often use CBT because it is effective in the time-limited setting of addiction treatment. Because it is goal-oriented, it gives people realistic, measurable goals to work toward. It can also help people change long-held beliefs and behaviors that contribute to addiction, even if the person is in treatment for only a short period.

Why is Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy used in Addiction Therapy Programs?

Comprehensive treatment for addiction addresses all the causes of addiction. Instead of simply treating the physical aspect of substance abuse and addiction, effective treatment incorporates therapies to treat the whole person. People receive the treatment they need to safely overcome the physical aspects of addiction, the psychological treatment they need to identify the underlying causes of addiction, and the support they need to move forward in a healthy, sober lifestyle.

Therapy, including CBT, helps people learn about their addiction. It can help you think differently about your thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors that contribute to addiction. It can also give you the coping skills you need to manage your reactions to challenges and healthily cope with your emotions.

Used during addiction treatment, cognitive-behavioral therapy is an especially effective form of mental health therapy. Incorporating this type of therapy into treatment lets people set new, recovery-related goals. It gives people better control over their choices and behaviors and provides essential tools that help people better regulate their emotions. Learning these skills helps to prepare people for the lifelong process of addiction recovery.

What to Expect in Substance Abuse Treatment

Addiction treatment generally happens in progressive stages. First, addiction specialists or medical professionals perform an evaluation that determines what kind of treatment the person requires. The evaluation may include questions about the severity of the addiction, treatment history, and medical and mental health history.

For many, the first step of treatment is medically-supervised detox. During detox, people are monitored and treated for uncomfortable or dangerous symptoms of withdrawal. This allows people to have a safe, complete detox.

After completing detox, people move on to a treatment program. Comprehensive addiction treatment uses a combination of evidence-based practices and holistic therapies, including:

  • Individual therapy–including cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Group therapy
  • Education
  • Medications
  • Mental health and medical treatment
  • Holistic therapies–nutrition counseling, art and music therapy, yoga, exercise, mindfulness practices, and other practices that support healing
  • Family therapy

The length of time someone spends in treatment and their required level of care depends on the length and severity of their addiction, their treatment history, medical and mental health needs, and other personal factors.

Aftercare planning is the last stage of recovery. It includes continuing therapy, building a supportive network of professionals and peers, making a plan for active relapse prevention, and other ways of staying engaged in the recovery process.

Learn More About Addiction Treatment at New Jersey Addiction Interventions

If you or someone you love requires addiction treatment or support at any stage of recovery, reach out to the specialists at New Jersey Addiction Interventions for information about our programs. We believe that anyone can recover from addiction if they have the right treatment and enough support.

Our specialists work to make getting the treatment you need as easy as possible. Don’t wait another day for the treatment. Take the first step toward the healthy, fulfilling life you deserve by reaching out to us today.

Medically Reviewed: April 22, 2022

Dr Ashley

Medical Reviewer

Chief Editor


All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

Dr Ashley Murray obtained her MBBCh Cum Laude in 2016. She currently practices in the public domain in South Africa. She has an interest in medical writing and has a keen interest in evidence-based medicine.

All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

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