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What is CBT and how it helps in the Treatment for Addiction?

Cognitive behavior therapy is based on the idea that feelings and behaviors are caused by a person’s thoughts, not on outside stimuli like people, situations, and events. While you may not be able to change your circumstances, you can change how you think about them. In the treatment of alcohol and drug dependence, CBT can help to (NIDA, 2020):

  • Develop coping strategies that will help when they are faced with situations that trigger cravings.
  • Improve self-control.
  • Recognize situations in which they are most likely to drink or use drugs.
  • Avoid trigging circumstances if possible.
  • Cope with other problems and behaviors which may lead to their substance abuse.

CBT can be very helpful in the treatment of drugs addiction. However, it has two basic functions including Functional Analysis and Skills Training;

Functional Analysis

When doing functional analysis, a therapist might ask the individual questions designed to elicit insight into how a person was thinking or feeling before the behaviors. They might ask the client to recall the last time they used a substance and then ask:

  • What were you doing before you used the substance?
  • How were you feeling?
  • What happened right before?
  • Did anything positive happen as a result of the behavior?
  • What were the negative consequences of your actions?

Skills Training

The goal of CBT is to get the person to unlearn maladaptive behaviors and learn or relearn better-coping skills. By learning such skills, they can then start working to apply them in situations that would typically trigger drug or alcohol use. Skills training works by:

  • Helping individuals unlearn old habits and learn to develop healthier skills and habits.
  • Educating people about ways to change how they think about their substance abuse.
  • Learning new ways to cope with the situations and circumstances that led to their drinking or drugging episodes in the past.

The therapy itself seems quite fulfilling however, there is a need for an expert to deal with the situation and get the person out of any addiction in a healthy and proper manner considering individual problem and circumstances.

Serene Retreat is one of the leading Addiction and Mental Health Treatment provider based in Malaysia with its branches locally and abroad. For more information about our treatment programs you can reach us via Call/Whatsapp +60 14-687 2268 or visit our website


National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). Cognitive-behavioral therapy (alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine, Nicotine). Updated June 1, 2020.

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