Seven Ways Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Helps Addiction Recovery

By March 5, 2018 No Comments
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What is cognitive behavioral therapy and how can cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) help addiction recovery? In CBT, therapists work with clients to change the way they think and act. Working with a therapist, people suffering from addiction learn to identify patterns of thought that drive them to resort to their addiction. Once you have identified these patterns, you learn how to predict and interrupt them, replacing them with healthier patterns. Let’s take a look at seven things that you will learn to do in CBT that show how cognitive behavioral therapy helps addiction recovery.

hands with pen writing in journal for CBT

Writing In A Journal For CBT

Examine And Understand Harmful Beliefs

Most people struggling with addiction suffer from some kind of harmful beliefs. These beliefs can lead to unpleasant emotions and destructive or irrational action. CBT teaches us to take a close look at our beliefs and assumptions and ask “is that really right?” You will learn to listen to yourself and dig deep and question your beliefs.

Identify Cognitive Distortions And Unhealthy Thinking Patterns

Cognitive distortions are unhealthy habits of thinking that lead you to an inaccurate perception of the world. Here are a few common cognitive distortions. All-or-nothing thinking limits your choices by leading to you perceive only extreme black and white categories. Over-generalization results in extrapolating from one setback to complete, utter and permanent defeat. It simply isn’t so. You may have developed a mental filter that blocks any good things and keeps you focused on the bad stuff. If you jump to conclusions, you may rely on negative assumptions. You can come to an inaccurate belief despite abundant helpful evidence. Disqualifying the positive is a common habit of finding a way to believe that anything good is more than offset by something bad. Some people have more complex patterns, moving from one misperception through a series of inaccurate and discouraging conclusions.

trigger mechanism diagram

Spot Triggers That Create A Predictable Reaction

Discover Triggers

While you work to catalog your inventory of bad habits of thinking, you will also investigate the triggers that set them off. You will discover certain feelings, thoughts, places, people or situations that send you into a tailspin of out of control destructive thought patterns and possible consequent action patterns. When you know what the trigger is, you can interrupt the circuit. Before that negative thought can build up steam and turn into action, you recognize the trigger and actively lead your thoughts in a new, better direction. You will learn powerful techniques to retrain your brain and put them into action.

Develop Positive Thought Patterns

While you identify negative thought patterns that limit you, induce feelings of helplessness, and drive you back to addiction, you’ll work on developing healthier habitual ways of thinking. Focusing on positive things will allow you to combat feelings of despair that lead back to addiction. When you have a positive way to look at things, day to day challenges won’t seem so overwhelming, and you’ll find it easier to say no to addiction. You will learn to create simple habits of thought – like looking for things to be grateful for – that will support you on the road of recovery.

Learn To Set Healthy, Reasonable Goals

CBT is very practical, focusing on identifying problems, figuring out ways to solve them, and then taking action. The principal purpose is to identify harmful thoughts and then change or manage them. You will learn to set modest, incremental goals to guide you in your steady progress and keep you on the road to freedom. You can use your practical goal setting skills that you develop in CBT for other life goals outside therapy too, planning a healthy, achievable series of steps instead of reaching for the stars from the start and coming up disappointingly short.

Create A Habit Of Taking Action

Some modes of therapy put a lot of focus on examining your history to understand the source of your problems. But CBT focuses much more on the present and urges you to ask “What can I do today?” You will consider that step first, and then ask “What can I work towards doing tomorrow.” You don’t ever have to take more than one step at a time, but you will learn to keep walking forward.

CBT is very action focused and your therapist will work with you to help you plan specific actions. For instance, if you have identified a pattern of thought of focusing only on things that make you unhappy, you might resolve to answer every thought about an unhappy thing by remembering something that you are grateful for (mental action counts, a lot!) or even taking physical action – maybe taking three deep breaths and smiling. A good CBT therapist may also suggest actions that people who want to support your recovery can take to help you along the way.

feet walking into sunset

Moving Forward One Step At A Time

Make Steady Progress Through Gradual Steps

Getting free from addiction takes time. You’ll need to work through a lot of deep realizations that take a while to sink in. A good therapist will understand you can’t figure it all out at once, and it takes practice to put what you learn to work for you. One day at a time, you will learn more and more about yourself. You will do your homework and slowly, your bad habits of thinking will drop away and the new habits that you work to build will begin to stick. The steady gradual progress of CBT reflects the broader process of recovery. Both require persistence and patience. Take a deep breath and just keep going. You can do it!

Increase Self Esteem

Low self-esteem is often one of the causes of addiction. If you did not start out with low self-esteem, the descent into the trap of addiction will often come with an ample serving of it. With CBT, you will learn to see yourself honestly and compassionately as a deserving human being, with some problems to work on, sure, but just as worthy of care as anyone else. Creating or restoring your sense of self-worth will help you realize that you deserve a better life and you can make one for yourself.

Take The First Step Towards Recovery Today

You deserve better than what addiction can offer. Take the first step on the road to better life. Learn more about our Rehab Program in Bali that includes cognitive behavioral therapy for recovering from addiction and make a plan.

If you or someone you care about has a problem with drugs or alcohol or any other form of addiction, call one of our experts today on (toll-free Australia) 1800 288 348 or +61 398045757 or email us at [email protected] and we will call you.



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