Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Drug and Alcohol Addiction

Effective addition treatment involves healing the whole person – mind, body and spirit. It’s not enough to simply treat the physical addiction. At Reflections Recovery Center, we combine our holistic treatment methods with tried-and-true clinical techniques such as cognitive behavioral therapy that are designed to get to the source of the addiction.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of individual treatment that examines the relationship between a person’s thoughts, feelings, behaviors and core beliefs. The practice helps the client learn techniques for managing his own internal dialog in a healthy and proactive manner.

The Relationship Between Behaviors, Thoughts, Feelings and Beliefs

Emotions, thoughts, beliefs and behaviors all influence one another. Some addiction treatment approaches, such as meditation and yoga, help the client feel more emotionally centered, which in turn help clarify thinking and beliefs.

CBT works the other way around: It helps clients adjust their thoughts and attitude, which eventually leads to greater emotional stability.

When clients are able to prevent negative thought patterns from spiraling out of control and replace them with positive thought patterns, they increase their ability to control their behaviors instead of reacting rashly to stressful situations.

How Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Differs from Other Types of Therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy is an evidence-based practice that was originally developed to help people with mental disorders, and has since been proven to be extremely effective for those recovering from drug and alcohol addiction as well.

CBT involves a combination of techniques from the traditional fields of psychotherapy, behavioral psychology and cognitive psychology. Here’s a brief summary of each type of therapy:


Psychotherapy looks at the meaning we place on things, starting with patterns of thought that began in childhood. It’s very introspective and interpretive, with the therapist looking for the hidden, unconscious meaning behind experiences in the client’s life and how those created the present patterns of thinking and acting.

This is the type of therapy most often depicted in movies with a patient laying on a couch and talking about their childhood and the therapist telling them what it all means.

Behavioral Psychology

This therapy looks at the relationship between our behavior, our thoughts and our problems. These behaviors have likely developed as a result of reward and punishment, positive and negative reinforcement.

Cognitive Psychology

Cognitive psychology looks at mental processes like memory, perception, creativity, problem solving, patterns of thinking, etc. and examines human behavior through a brain-based model.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

CBT is problem focused and action oriented, with the aim of achieving certain behavioral goals by discovering and modifying the thought processes that stand in the way of a patient achieving his or her goals. CBT looks at the meaning that the patient places on events, and the therapist will examine those meanings to see if they are helping or hurting the patient in reaching his or her goals.

The Benefits of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

We all have an internal dialog running through our minds that we usually aren’t aware of. When something happens in our lives, epic or mundane, it triggers a cascade of questions and assumptions.

In CBT sessions at Reflections, our therapist works with the client to examine this automatic internal dialog, identify habits of thought that may be contributing to his unhappiness, and create new habits of thought that build him up inside, instead of tearing him down.

CBT is highly effective because it:

  • Can provide results in a relatively short period of time – months instead of years
  • Targets a specific problem with a goal-oriented approach
  • Helps the client identify patterns of thought that can lead to a downward spiral of negative thinking
  • Instills new patterns of thought that allow the client to better cope with difficult situations when they arise
  • Teaches the client to take over managing his own cognitive habits after therapy ends
  • Gives the client skills he can use throughout his life, whenever he needs them

What to Expect in CBT Sessions

Cognitive behavioral therapy sessions are typically 50 minutes long. Unlike psychotherapy, which can take years, CBT can be effective in as few as 20 sessions.

At our Prescott, Arizona treatment center, a therapist begins by finding out what the client wants out of life and then works with him to set specific goals. Next, the client and therapist work one-on-one to discover and address whatever thoughts and behaviors are tied up in the client’s substance abuse.

The client may be given homework to complete, such as consciously changing his reaction in a certain situation, implementing a new habit, etc.

By identifying the patterns of thought (which the client is often unaware of at first) that are contributing to substance abuse, then helping the client change them, the therapist empowers the client to manage his thoughts, emotions and behavior in healthy ways going forward.

To learn more about CBT and the other therapies we use in our men’s addiction treatment program in Prescott, give us a call to get in touch with our admissions counselors today.

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