Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Relapse is a common theme in addiction recovery. Detox and addiction treatment can help people recover initially,  but it may not stop them from relapsing. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) can help individuals recognize the hidden reasons for why they start abusing substances. Also, CBT for substance abuse helps individuals choose a different action other than using drugs when presented with the opportunity to relapse. 

a person talking to a therapist
Making a conscious effort to change how one thinks is what produces actionable changes in real life.

Identifying harmful thoughts and behavioral patterns that may be subconscious is what makes CBT for substance abuse so effective. In fact, a study found that 60% of addiction treatment patients with a cocaine use disorder were able to maintain sobriety even after 52 weeks after taking CBT. Are you asking yourself “where can I find cognitive-behavioral therapy near me for addiction?” Look no further than Little Creek Recovery

What is Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy? 

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a form of talk therapy that focuses on changing self-destructive thought patterns and behaviors. Since its inception, CBT is scientifically proven to help a wide variety of mental health disorders as well as difficult problems in life as a whole. Examples of problems that CBT for substance abuse can help with include: 

  • Addiction
  • Mood disorders 
  • Overall stress 
  • Anxiety disorders 
  • Eating disorders 
  • Upsetting break-ups 
  • Healing from traumatic events 

Indeed, CBT for substance abuse can help with a range of issues because it’s backed by both clinical practice and copious amounts of research. Tackling behavioral issues without addressing what caused them has made other therapies fail in the past. Making a conscious effort to change how one thinks is what produces actionable changes in real life. 

According to the American Psychological Association (APA), there are several pillars that define the basis of cognitive-behavioral therapy. They are as follows: 

  1. Unhelpful and self-destructive ways of thinking play a part in mental illness. 
  2. Psychological problems partially stem from negative learned behaviors. 
  3. Those who suffer from psychological problems can find healthy ways to cope in order to reduce symptoms of mental illness and live normal lives.

Undoing the harm of negative learned behaviors and changing thought patterns can help individuals overcome a mental illness or other struggles in their lives. Yet, many people don’t realize that specific thought patterns affect how they feel about themselves and the behaviors that they exhibit that don’t benefit them. CBT works to address these subconscious thoughts and change them into more positive ones. 

What is the History of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy? 

Addiction is a complex health condition. Because of this, medical professionals from decades ago didn’t understand how thoughts could transform into behaviors later on. For many years psychologists and behavioral therapists just relied on the work of Sigmund Freud to help their patients overcome mental illness. 

In the 1960s, a psychiatrist at the University of Pennsylvania named Dr. Aaron T. Beck tried to help individuals overcome depression. In the process, he found that the theory developed by Sigmund Freud wasn’t comprehensive. 

Dr. Beck noticed that his patients had subconscious, automatic thoughts that affected the way they felt about themselves and, in turn, their mental health. Eventually, Dr. Beck found that depressed individuals, “experienced streams of negative thoughts that seemed to arise spontaneously.” 

Thus, Dr. Beck developed a theory that would change therapy forever. He grouped these “automatic” thoughts into three categories:


Negative thoughts about themselves 


Negative thoughts about the present world


Negative thoughts about the future

After this observation, Dr. Beck found that he could help depressed patients by helping them identify their subconscious, negative thoughts. Through this process, Dr. Beck was able to show his depressed patients that their automatic, negative thoughts were untrue. As the patients began to think more realistically and, in turn, positively, they were able to stop the vicious cycle of automatically thinking negative thoughts and lead more normal lives. 

Since Dr. Beck created cognitive behavioral therapy, CBT has evolved and adapted. Over 2,000 studies have analyzed the efficacy of CBT and shown how, with CBT, patients can become their own therapists by the end of treatment. CBT has been around for about 60 years and helps thousands of individuals take back their lives. 

How Does CBT for Substance Abuse Work? 

CBT for substance abuse works by helping patients understand every factor that leads up to the act of doing drugs and alcohol. By knowing what factors trigger addiction, rehab patients that are also CBT patients can figure out how to deal with them. Ultimately, therapists who specialize in CBT for addiction show their patients how to deal with painful emotions in a positive way

Often, individuals with substance use disorders also suffer from mental illness. When a person suffers from both a substance use disorder and a mental illness at the same time, that person suffers from a dual diagnosis, or co-occurring, disorder. CBT can help individuals overcome their co-occurring substance use and mental health disorders through the use of the following components. 

Components of CBT for Substance Abuse 

CBT for addiction is different than CBT for other health disorders. That said, CBT for substance abuse still relies on the key cognitive behavioral therapy components. There are two main CBT components that are pillars in the foundation of cognitive-behavioral therapy. They are functional analysis and skills training. 

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Functional Analysis 

Patients must identify the self-destructive thoughts they have about themselves, the world, and the future before treatment can work. It may be difficult at first to realize what thoughts are floating across one’s mind. 

CBT therapists specialize in finding out what’s going on in the heads of their patients. That way the CBT therapists can help their patients identify the unrealistic and negative thoughts that they’re thinking that are causing them to exhibit self-destructive actions. Once these negative thoughts are identified, CBT patients and therapists work together to narrow down these harmful thoughts. 

CBT for addiction not only helps patients realize what thoughts of theirs may lead to self-destructive actions, but also what outside factors may help trigger such actions. Thus, therapists who specialize in CBT may ask their patients if there are any patterns between people, places, and things which may cause them to start to crave substances. 

For instance, someone suffering from a substance use disorder may want to consume substances around friends who are doing it. Therefore, being around friends that are substance users or social environments in which substances are used could be an addiction trigger that leads to harmful thoughts and actions. Once an addiction trigger such as this is identified, CBT therapists and their patients will together figure out ways for the patients to cope with the addiction trigger in a positive manner.

Skills Training 

Skills training is another important component of CBT theory. During CBT skills training, therapists and their patients will work on developing strategies to help the patients regulate stress, maintain mental wellness, and respond positively to addiction triggers. 

The patients that are using CBT for substance abuse will then practice these strategies. CBT therapists ultimately use skills training to teach their patients life skills that they can use to help them face addiction triggers and difficult circumstances without turning to substance use to cope. 

CBT therapists may ask their patients about their hobbies. CBT therapists may also ask their patients how much time they spend outside and if they exercise at all. Cognitive-behavioral therapists will then get their patients to understand the ways that they can improve their mental health through self-care. 

Once this happens, CBT patients suffering from substance use disorders may make lose self-care schedules. Such self-care schedules make sure that CBT patients have healthy bodies and minds. Such self-care schedules plus the other positive life skills that CBT teaches also helps prevent addiction treatment patients from relapsing.  

Achieve Recovery Through CBT for Substance Abuse

Are you still wondering “where can I find cognitive-behavioral therapy near me for addiction?” If so, you’ve found the answer.  Little Creek Recovery provides inpatient CBT for addiction to men and outpatient CBT for addiction to all genders. 

CBT for substance abuse is extremely powerful. This is why we here at Little Creek Recovery integrate it into our addiction treatment programs. If you or a loved one suffers from a substance use disorder, you are not alone. Contact us today to see how we can help you achieve lifetime recovery. 


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