Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy or CBT is a type of talk therapy that first emerged in the mid-twentieth century. Today it is the most popular form of therapy and has been found to be helpful in treating a wide range of mental health issues, including depression, anxiety, PTSD, eating disorders, and most importantly here, drug and alcohol dependence. Its wide application across a variety of mental health disorders means CBT is also especially effective at treating addiction patients who struggle with a dual diagnosis, where an underlying mental health condition is intertwined with addiction. Cognitive behavioral therapy posits that people’s actions are downstream from their thoughts, and focuses on changing people’s thought patterns in hopes of altering the way they behave. This is based on three core principles of CBT:


  1. Psychological problems are based at least in part on flawed and unhelpful ways of thinking
  2. Psychological problems are also based in part on learned but ultimately unhelpful behavior
  3. People who suffer from psychological problems can unlearn unhelpful behaviors and replace them with helpful coping mechanisms and strategies.


The goal of cognitive behavioral therapy then is to identify unhealthy coping behaviors and the thought patterns they emerge from, to change the way we think in order to change the way we behave and to replace unhealthy coping mechanisms with more productive ways of coping. Throughout the course of CBT treatment, clients will learn how to recognize distortions in their thinking, and to correct those thoughts to more helpful ways of thinking. 


Where CBT can really shine in regards to treating substance abuse and addiction is changing coping behaviors. For many people who suffer from it, addiction begins with using substances to cope with stresses in their lives. To properly treat addiction, new and effective coping mechanisms need to be introduced to replace substance abuse. What these new coping methods may be will vary with each individual, as CBT is a highly collaborative form of treatment. The therapist and the patient work together and form a relationship to develop an understanding of the patient’s own unique thought patterns and develop an effective treatment strategy. 


Cognitive behavioral therapy isn’t just effective during the initial rehab period but is also effective in maintaining a healthy lifestyle post-treatment and preventing relapse. Because of this, CBT is often a core component of aftercare plans upon release from rehab. Some studies have found that continuing CBT post-treatment cut the relapse rate by 30%, making CBT an extremely effective tool for treating addiction. 


Today, most accredited rehab institutions include cognitive behavioral therapy as a component of addiction treatment, and there is years worth of evidence to back up its efficacy as a treatment for addiction. Sunshine Behavioral Health has found CBT to be a highly effective component of treatment and integrates CBT into their world-class treatment programs at their five locations across the US. To learn more about Sunshine Behavioral Health and how they can help you or your loved ones recover from addiction, visit us at and take the first step towards recovery today.




  1. – Psychotherapy
  2. –  Cognitive-behavioral therapy
  3. – Understanding dual diagnosis
  4. – How Science Has Revolutionized the Understanding of Drug Addiction (Drugs, Brains, and Behavior: The Science of Addiction)
  5. – The brain disease model of addiction: is it supported by the evidence and has it delivered on its promises?
  6. – Facing Addiction in America: The Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health
  7. – Intensive CBT: How fast can I get better?
  8. – Substance Use Disorders
  9. – Treatment Approaches for Drug Addiction
  10. – MAT Medications, Counseling, and Related Conditions
  11. – Contingency management: what it is and why psychiatrists should want to use it
  12. – Treatment and Recovery
  13. basics of CBT – Brief Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (Brief Interventions and Brief Therapies for Substance Use Disorder)
  14. – Cognitive-Behavioral Treatment With Adult Alcohol and Illicit Drug Users: A Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials
  15. – Why Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Is the Current Gold Standard of Psychotherapy
  16. – Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Substance Use Disorders
  17. – Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Substance Use Disorders
  18. healthline.comt – What happens during a CBT session?

Medical disclaimer:

Sunshine Behavioral Health strives to help people who are facing substance abuse, addiction, mental health disorders, or a combination of these conditions. It does this by providing compassionate care and evidence-based content that addresses health, treatment, and recovery.

Licensed medical professionals review material we publish on our site. The material is not a substitute for qualified medical diagnoses, treatment, or advice. It should not be used to replace the suggestions of your personal physician or other health care professionals.

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