Medically Reviewed

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Recovery

- 5 sections

Medically Reviewed: September 25, 2019

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Chief Editor


All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

Addiction is a progressive and fatal disease. It is important that you seek comprehensive treatment for you or your loved one to ensure you utilize every tool to promote addiction recovery. Effective comprehensive addiction treatment generally includes a variety of evidence-based therapy options. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is an important and effective therapy option in drug rehab – and may be the right choice for you.


What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?


Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a form of psychotherapy (also called talk therapy). This specific type of therapy is what many people imagine – the cliche patient and therapist sitting in a cozy office discussing thoughts and feelings. All forms of psychotherapy have been proven to be an effective way to encourage addiction recovery and mental health.


The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) explains “psychotherapy can touch on topics such as past or current problems, experiences, thoughts, feelings, or relationships experienced by the person while the therapist helps make connections and provides insight. Studies have found individual psychotherapy to be effective at improving symptoms in a wide array of mental illnesses, making it both a popular and versatile treatment. It can be used for families, couples, or groups.” Psychotherapy is an effective form of therapy in many different settings and appropriate for a variety of situations. The goal of CBT is to be as flexible, customizable, and effective as possible. 


How is CBT Effective for Recovery?


Mental health and substance use disorders are behavioral issues, rooted in thoughts and actions. The American Psychological Association (APA) lists the core principles surrounding CBT:

  • Psychological problems are based, in part, on faulty or unhelpful ways of thinking.
  • Psychological Problems are based, in part, on learned patterns of unhelpful behavior.
  • People suffering from psychological problems can learn better ways of coping with them, thereby relieving their symptoms and becoming more effective in their lives. 


CBT focuses on educating patients on thoughts and behaviors that encourage addiction, or other unhealthy patterns of behaviors. Individuals engaging in CBT will learn new ways of thinking, approaching situations, coping skills, and new helpful tools for staying sober. CBT will help individuals accomplish these goals using a variety of different strategies such as:

  • Educating clients on recognizing distortions in thought patterns while helping him/her reevaluate their perception.
  • Understanding the behaviors and motivations of others
  • Utilizing problem-solving skills to cope with stressful, traumatic, and difficult situations
  • Learning to trust his/her individual decision making skills/abilities
  • Walking through fearful situations, rather than avoiding them
  • Implementing role-playing to better prepare the individual for potentially problematic and stressful interactions with others
  • Practicing mindfulness/meditation to calm the individual’s mind and body


It is important to remember that not all CBT includes these strategies. Rather, each individual client will work in collaboration with the psychologist to develop the best treatment strategy. CBT encourages each individual to become his/her own therapist through exercises during the session as well as “homework” assignments. Clients will develop coping skills, where they can learn to change their thought patterns, problematic emotions, and unhealthy behaviors. 


The Basics Behind CBT and Addiction Recovery


The goal of CBT is to make the connection between an individual’s beliefs and addictions. The primary purpose of CBT is to identify how the way an individual perceives, feels, and reacts to situations that affect all aspects of their life. In addiction recovery, we learn that our beliefs about ourselves and our perceptions of situations often influences our individual experiences. For instance, we may share experiences but our perceptions can vary greatly. CBT works to challenge our beliefs about ourselves and the world around us so that we can work on shifting those beliefs and live in harmony.


Is CBT Right for Me?


CBT is an individualized and flexible method of therapy. This is a huge benefit for individuals seeking recovery or looking to maintain mental health. CBT is designed to adjust and expand with you as your recovery progresses. Your psychologist will encourage you to make plans and set attainable goals as you regularly check and update each of them throughout your treatment plan. ( CBT offers progressive steps, as you reach your goals and you will be able to adjust your treatment plan to propel you to where you’d like to be. Your needs in the first week of recovery will not be the same things you need a month, or a year later. CBT is customized to fit your unique needs and grow with you as you progress. The flexibility and progression of CBT will help your recovery today and long into the future. 


CBT is helpful from the very beginning of recovery as it addresses your negative thought patterns about recovery so that you have the ability to build confidence in your sobriety. If you have experienced a relapse in the past, CBT will help reframe your thoughts about recovery and increase your ability to succeed.


CBT will encourage you to maintain focus and committed to treatment. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) explains the importance of completing treatment: “Good outcomes are contingent on adequate treatment length… Treatment dropout is one of the major problems encountered by treatment programs; therefore, motivational techniques that can keep patients engaged will also improve outcomes.”


CBT at PAX Memphis


CBT is an important component of treatment at Pax Memphis. CBT engages clients in treatment and works to shift their attitudes and therefore their individual actions towards maintaining long term sobriety. CBT offers the tools and necessary skills required to stay committed to treatment. If you are interested in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and a comprehensive approach to addiction in Memphis,TN, reach out to PAX Memphis. Our compassionate staff and patient admissions coordinators will answer any questions you may have about CBT and how we incorporate this therapy into our treatment program. Call us today to begin the journey to recovery.