Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Substance Abuse

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a form of treatment that is used to treat substance abuse disorders. CBT for substance abuse will help you discover the underlying problems that led you or your loved one to become addicted to drugs or alcohol. The staff at Chapel Hill Detox is dedicated to creating a plan to start you or your loved one on the path to sobriety. Cognitive behavioral therapy is a treatment option offered on our campus at Chapel Hill Detox.

What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for Substance Abuse?

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a method that is used to treat many types of disorders. Substance use disorder is one such condition. Some of the other disorders include:

  • Eating disorders
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Depression
  • Schizophrenia
  • Sleep disorders
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Anxiety

Cognitive behavioral therapy is a form of “talk therapy.” It encourages you to recognize the destructive thought patterns and/or actions that initiated your need to escape everyday life. This need for escape was taken care of through the use of drugs or alcohol. With the help from cognitive behavioral therapy sessions, you will learn to form healthier habits. These new habits will motivate you to stop relying on drugs or alcohol.

The purpose of using CBT for substance abuse is to remove any negative thoughts and behavior patterns. It is these negative thoughts and behaviors that may have steered someone to become addicted. They could have turned to drugs and alcohol as a coping mechanism. It is the goal to make positive thoughts and behaviors the “new normal.”

Strategies Used In CBT for Substance Abuse

There are various strategies that are used in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Each of these strategies works through the process that is used when evaluating and treating each patient. These steps include:

Studying Your Negative Thought Patterns

Is it normal for you to always think the worst or have a “glass half full” attitude? This negative pattern of thinking can override anything positive about a situation. This pattern can lead to a life of negativity. The goal of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is to evaluate circumstances with an open mind. The focus is placed on the positive rather than the negative in each situation.

Broadening Your Thinking

You will be challenged to view things in different ways. You may find that you have a habit of forming quick opinions and not looking into the facts of a situation. If you’re challenged to see things in a different light, you can break out of old habits and form a new perspective and way of thinking.

Exposure Therapy

This therapy allows you to face your fears or phobias head-on. Questions will be asked that force you to consider what life events have prompted any issues that have caused you to have anxiety. You will be given guidance on how to handle these situations so that you can manage things in a more calm and level-headed manner.


Writing down your thoughts is a therapeutic form of self-evaluation and self-expression. Writing allows you to express your true feelings and emotions. There is no form of outside judgment when expressing yourself on paper. These journal entries can then be evaluated by your therapist and can help guide you to overcome your struggles.

Stress Reduction Techniques

You should find that lowering your level of stress will lessen your anxiety. This lessened anxiety will relieve you of the need to use drugs or alcohol as your escape mechanism. Such techniques as deep breathing exercises and muscle relaxation may be offered as tools to reduce stress.


This technique can provide skills that will teach you how to handle specific situations. Some of the skills that may be covered in role-playing include problem-solving, social skills, communication skills, and how to show confidence. You also may cover how to appropriately handle being assertive in a variety of circumstances.

What Are the Benefits of CBT for Substance Abuse?

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There are many benefits of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). It is a short-term therapy that is used to treat various types of disorders including substance abuse. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can be intense in nature. It is a form of therapy that is very structured. This structure is an important benefit in the therapy process for those who thrive on routine.

Other benefits of CBT for substance abuse include:

  • Investigating the reasons for the self destructive behaviors that have led you or your loved one to their addiction to alcohol or drugs.
  • Working through negative thought patterns and forcing you or your loved one to view situations in new ways and with an open mind.
  • Providing life skill tools that can be applied outside of therapy sessions. These life skills promote ways to handle everyday situations and thoughts and behaviors.
  • Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) sessions can be handled either in a group or on an individual basis.
  • Applying life skills that are necessary in order to maintain a life of sobriety.
  • Coping strategies are taught so that stressful events don’t trigger a relapse.
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What to Expect During A Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) Session

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A cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) session is a hands-on therapy approach that will require your involvement as much as the involvement of your therapist. Upon starting CBT sessions, you will need to work with your therapist so that they can form an approach that works best with your needs. Honest, open discussions with your therapist are important. It is important that you find a therapist with whom you’re comfortable. 

The first session will involve discussing your situation surrounding your addiction and defining your specific needs. Subsequent sessions will focus on defining your specific problems and focusing on strategies that will help meet your final goals. This is also a time when you may be given tasks to do outside of your time in therapy sessions.

It is important to remember that consistency and patience are key in any therapy treatment. Results will come, but it does take time and work. Becoming sober and staying sober are goals that are worth your time and commitment. 

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Are You A Good Candidate for CBT for Substance Abuse?

Cognitive behavioral therapy is an intense form of treatment, but it may not be the right type of treatment for everyone. If you have this type of mindset, then CBT may be right for you: 

  • Are you or your loved one willing to put in the work?
  • Are you or your loved one ready to have open, honest conversations?
  • Are you or your loved one prepared to have an open mind?
  • Are you or your loved one capable of being self-disciplined?

Chapel Hill Detox will provide you with information to help you decide if this form of therapy suits the needs of you or your loved one. This hands-on approach to treatment offers life-changing benefits. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) will encourage you to make changes to your thought process and behavior habits that can last a lifetime.

How Can Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) Be Used to Overcome Addiction?

Your addiction to drugs or alcohol may stem from many triggers from your past or present life. CBT for substance abuse can offer a process to help you discover what your triggers are. It is possible to overcome the self-medication that takes place when you use drugs or alcohol to combat your problems.

The steps that are taken in a cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) session will allow you to see where your insecurities are. Once you have discovered those insecurities you will see how that created your need for drugs or alcohol. The next step is seeing how the drugs or alcohol then became a crutch to get you through day-to-day events.

At this point, you start to learn how to view life from a different perspective. You will be provided with a new set of life skills so that you can better manage your thoughts and behaviors. These skills will help you lead a new life of sobriety.

Get the Most Out of CBT for Substance Abuse at Chapel Hill

It is our goal at Chapel Hill Medical Detox to provide you or your loved one with a treatment program designed specifically for your needs. Our facility, located in West Palm Beach, Florida offers a relaxing, comfortable environment. The dedicated staff at Chapel Hill Detox are prepared to work with you or your loved one on the journey towards maintaining a sober life. 

Take the first step and contact us today. We are ready to answer your questions concerning cognitive behavioral therapy and how it can be used to treat substance abuse. We look forward to hearing from you!