How Can We Help?
< All Topics

The Use of Therapy to Treat Substance Use Disorder

Therapy to Treat Addiction (CBT, ABT, etc.)


Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

The hypothesis that unproductive or maladaptive thought and behavior is the root cause of the problems is a common underlying premise of these cognitive-behavioral methods.

As a result, the clinician assists the individual in recognizing this and teaches them new cognitive and behavioral skills to help them solve the issue.


Psychologist Albert Ellis developed Rational-Emotive Therapy (RET) and Rational-Emotional Behavior Therapy (REBT) in the early 1950s, partially in response to psychoanalytic treatments, which had been studied for decades before cognitive-behavioral methods became a part of the psychotherapy environment.

Psychiatrist Aaron T. Beck founded cognitive therapy in the 1960s, based on Ellis’ work. At the same time, behavioral psychologists like Nathan Azrin were developing treatments based on operant conditioning – the idea that behavior is shaped by its consequences – and classical conditioning – the idea that neutral cues can become powerfully associated with using a substance (e.g., an individual, a specific time of day, or a specific place) so that certain cues alone (e.g., only the time of day) can become powerfully associated with using a substance.

Cognitive-behavioral interventions became mainstays in the treatment of depressive (e.g., major depressive disorder) and anxiety disorders due to their more time-limited approach relative to other treatments, as well as clinical evidence supporting their effectiveness.

Clinical innovators will integrate these cognitive and behavioral techniques in the treatment of drug use disorder in the coming decades, as well as introduce other hypotheses of how people grow and modify dysfunctional habits. This broad cognitive-behavioral umbrella encompasses many of the psychosocial (non-medication) therapies for drug use disorder that have been established.


Previous Recovery Coaching Information for Sober Living Operators
Table of Contents