How Does Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy Help Addiction Recovery?

When you decide to start your recovery journey in a treatment facility, you will probably hear about all of the different treatment modalities offered. One common treatment method is cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). The majority of facilities use this form of therapy because of its versatility -- it can be used in individual and group sessions. CBT helps with distorted thinking patterns and benefits most people that undergo it. By understanding the benefits of CBT in addiction recovery, individuals may be more likely to try it in their own recovery journeys.

What is CBT?

First and foremost, it is essential to define CBT. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a psychological treatment that specifically helps individuals address various emotions, thoughts, and behaviors. The therapy can be given through structured sessions or as materials for self-help. It is most commonly used to help individuals struggling with depression, anxiety, addiction, eating disorders, and marital problems. Different types of CBT can be used for various needs in recovery. 

Types of CBT

Understanding the different types of CBT can help you and your therapist pinpoint which is best for your personal recovery needs. There are several different types that you may come across in treatment programs. However, some of the most common types include cognitive therapy, dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), and rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT).

Cognitive Therapy

This form of CBT helps individuals recognize and acknowledge current distorted thinking patterns, behaviors, and emotional responses that they may be experiencing. They can begin working through these with their therapist to change them and help their overall recovery.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy 

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) differs from cognitive therapy in that it uses emotional regulation and mindfulness strategies to help individuals cope with negative thoughts and behaviors. It teaches patients to be present, regulate their emotions, improve interpersonal relationships, and healthily cope with stress.

Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy

Rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT) is a short-term form of CBT that helps patients identify self-criticizing thoughts and feelings. It does this by challenging the rationality of the thoughts and feelings and then replacing them with healthier ones.

CBT Techniques and Methods

During each CBT session, various exercises are used to help patients recognize negative thoughts and behaviors to change them into more positive ones. The following are standard methods used during CBT sessions:

  • Imagery-Based Exposure: Imagery-based exposure involves the patient recalling a memory that causes negative thoughts and feelings. The person may be asked to frequently revisit the memory to help them become desensitized to it.
  • Thought Records: Patients are asked to examine their consistent negative thoughts to look for inconsistencies. Doing this helps them rationalize the thoughts and move towards positive thinking that will help them change their way of thinking.
  • Behavioral Experiments: By practicing self-kindness and self-criticism, the person can begin to learn which one they respond more positively to. The therapist will facilitate this to help find which method works best for the patient.

How CBT Helps Addiction Recovery

Most addiction treatment facilities use CBT to help individuals heal from negative thoughts and behaviors that played a role in their addiction. It is used because of its ability to help patients identify negative thoughts and then challenge them into changing them to more positive ones. 

One example of this is all-or-nothing thinking, which commonly occurs in recovery in the forms of “I should be coping with this better” or “I need to be the best one here.” By engaging in all-or-nothing thinking, you are not allowing yourself to be human and make mistakes. CBT can help challenge this by putting things into perspective and rationalizing your current thoughts. You can begin to understand that you don’t need to be the best and instead cope at your own pace -- recovery is not a race. You can also challenge the need to cope better by reminding yourself that you are doing the best you can. By consistently challenging negative thoughts, you can begin to break the patterns that enabled your addiction in the first place.

Is CBT Right For Me?

It is essential to understand that while CBT is used for most individuals recovering from addiction, not everyone will find it helpful. If CBT doesn’t work for you, it doesn’t mean that you are broken or a hopeless case. Instead, you need to find something else that does address your needs in recovery. When considering CBT, ask yourself the following questions. The answers will help you know if you should try CBT for yourself.

  • Am I comfortable thinking and discussing my feelings?
  • Do I have a clear goal I want to reach in my recovery regarding my thoughts and behaviors?
  • Can I thrive in short-term therapy?
  • Do I have the time to undergo CBT and its activities outside of sessions?

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a common therapeutic modality used in addiction treatment facilities across the United States; it highly benefits those healing from addiction. The therapy helps patients identify and break out of negative thoughts and behavior patterns. Facilities such as NorthStar Transitions use CBT in conjunction with other treatment methods to address individual needs in recovery. We utilize CBT alongside experiential and holistic treatment methods to ensure you are getting the help you need to maintain sobriety for the long term. We strongly believe in helping our clients navigate real-life recovery to prepare for sobriety on their own. If you or someone you know is currently struggling, contact us today. We will work with you to ensure you get the best care available and find the healing you need. To discover the NorthStar difference, call us today at (303) 558-6400. Remember, healing begins with NorthStar. Take the first step today.

Search Blog Posts
Back to blog
Call 866-407-2240
Verify Insurance