Young woman in therapy speaking to therapist

Can Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) Help Treat Your Addiction?

Implementing cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) into addiction treatment programs has been shown to be one of the most effective therapies available when it comes to getting positive results in a relatively short time. 

  • Why? Because CBT enables you to take your negative thoughts and restructure them, focusing on what you can control instead of dwelling on what you can’t. 

This means you’re less affected by the external events impacting your life and able to move past the peripheral circumstances that had previously dominated your thinking. 

CBT is also set apart from other types of therapy that are regularly incorporated into substance addiction treatment because CBT is intended to be short-term psychotherapy, used to analyze the relationship between your behaviors, thoughts and feelings.

In addition, CBT encourages you to work interactively with your treatment provider to collaboratively address past impulsive decision patterns while working to replace your addictive behaviors with a healthier, happier frame of mind.

Keep reading to learn more about CBT and how it can help as you work through addiction treatment. 

What Is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)?

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a form of talk therapy used for a wide variety of addiction and mental health issues. 

    • The core concept of CBT is based on the notion that your thoughts and behaviors are interconnected, helping you understand and challenge those specific thoughts that negatively impact your behaviors. 
    • CBT typically takes place over a specific number of sessions and is a solution-focused type of treatment.
    • Additionally, cognitive behavioral therapy is based on the idea that your individual thoughts are actually the cause of your feelings and reactions, not external events like people or situations you encounter.1

How Is CBT Different from Other Addiction Therapies?

The main difference between cognitive behavioral therapy and other addiction treatment options is that CBT is broader and tends to discuss a wide range of thoughts, habits, behaviors and patterns.

It helps you solve problems while building the necessary learning skills you need to: 

  • Identify negative behaviors
  • Properly correct them 
  • Incorporate new and healthier coping skills

By contrast, DBT, or dialectical behavior therapy, is a specific form of cognitive behavioral therapy that emphasizes the psychosocial aspects of treatment and how you interact with others in different environments and relationships. 

Someone dealing mostly with addiction triggers, like old friends or stress at work, may benefit from CBT. Whereas a person struggling with mental health problems alongside their addiction would benefit from DBT.

Another difference between CBT and DBT is the role the therapist takes in working with you throughout the therapeutic process. With CBT, the relationship is more instructional and direct, while in a DBT setting the therapist takes on the role of nurturer. 

Another way to think of it can be:

  • In DBT, the therapist works as an ally 
  • In CBT, the therapist is more of a teacher instructing a student(2,3)

How Is CBT Effective in Addiction Treatment?

Cognitive behavioral therapy encourages you to form clear expectations and perspectives around your daily thoughts. In other words, the primary goal of CBT is to help you recognize and change negative thought patterns that are impacting your sobriety. 

During treatment sessions, you learn how to implement effective coping strategies that enable you to develop more positive thinking patterns over time. 

Some of the more effective techniques incorporated during CBT sessions may include:

  • Cognitive Restructuring 

Cognitive restructuring teaches you how to react differently to stressful situations by offsetting negative thoughts and cognitive distortions, like catastrophizing or thinking the worst of every scenario. 

Clinical therapists will typically incorporate self-talk strategies, teaching you how to identify illogical statements and replace them with positive perspectives.(4)

  • Encouraging Positive Activities 

One of the most effective ways to deal with your negative thoughts is to engage your mind in something more pleasant. This technique encourages you to create a weekly list of enjoyable activities to get a healthy break from the daily chores of your life. 

The tasks are simple with a prime objective to induce positive emotions. The positivity can fight negative thoughts and help reduce your urge to relapse.(4)

  • Setting Consistent Personal Goals 

This technique focuses on you and your therapist coming up with specific outcomes that you would like to achieve related to drug abuse and any other problematic behavioral patterns. 

It’s important that your goals are measurable and observable, as well as achievable. That’s because if the goals are set too high, you may become discouraged, which is why it’s important to set realistic goals at first.(4)

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy at Ranch Creek Recovery

At Ranch Creek Recovery, as you begin to address the negative thinking patterns that shape your actions, you’ll also learn how to change your behaviors, developing new skills to avoid substance use altogether. 

Your treatment will focus on exploring your history to find out what has influenced your addiction in the past

Our expert therapists are trained to listen for the maladaptive thoughts you express to help you challenge those concepts and replace them with healthier ideas. 

Regardless of where you are in your recovery, it’s important to remember that when you begin making progress toward smaller goals, the overall objective of sustained sobriety begins to seem a bit more achievable each day — and we’ll be with you every step of the way.

Have questions about CBT? Learn more, or contact us to start your journey toward detox and recovery. We’re here to help in any way we can. 


1 American Psychological Association. What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy? Accessed September 17, 2021.

2 National Center for Biotechnology Information. Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Substance Use Disorders. Accessed September 17, 2021.

3 National Center for Biotechnology Information. Dialectical Behavior Therapy for Substance Abusers. Accessed September 17, 2021.

4 Mayo Clinic. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Accessed September 17, 2021.  

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy vs Dialectical Behavior Therapy

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy vs. Dialectical Behavior Therapy

Coming to grips with your addiction is no small task. The disease can impact various aspects of your life, from your physical wellbeing to your mental health, leaving you feeling lost, alone, broken and defeated. It can cloud your ability to make healthy choices and drive you to turn on those who love you most.

Making the decision to face your addiction with the help and guidance of a qualified treatment facility is the first step toward achieving sobriety and attaining a happier and healthier life.

While the intricacies of rehab are typically explained in detail when you begin the process, understanding the various types of therapy available can better prepare you for the road ahead.

In particular, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) are two of the leading therapeutic approaches implemented in treatment settings due to their success rates and the overall positive impact they have on participants’ lives.

While both treatment interventions are forms of psychotherapy, or more commonly titled “talk therapy,” the topics that are focused on can be quite different. Understanding the variations in these two treatment approaches is an excellent way to better prepare yourself for the ins-and-outs of the recovery process.

What’s the Difference Between Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Dialectical Behavior Therapy?

Cognitive behavioral therapy is a treatment approach that teaches you how your thoughts, feelings and behaviors influence and interact with each other. Treatment sessions are focused on restructuring and changing the way you think and behave from day to day.

The primary concept of cognitive behavioral therapy emphasizes the idea that much of how you feel is determined by how you think. For example, if you believe that people in your life do not like you (the thought), you may avoid social interactions (the behavior) and end up lonely and isolated (the feeling).

Dialectical behavior therapy is a modified form of cognitive behavioral therapy with greater focus on social and emotional aspects of your life. It was initially developed to help people deal with unstable emotions and behaviors through increased focus on skills like:

  • Improved mindfulness
  • Regulating emotional experiences
  • Tolerating experienced distress
  • Effectively managing your relationships with others

Overall, DBT theory suggests that some people’s arousal levels in certain situations can increase much faster than the average person’s. This can lead to higher emotional stimulation and the need to implement treatment techniques to decrease those excessive negative feelings.

What You Should Know about CBT and DBT

Both CBT and DBT are forms of talk therapy, focusing on the participant’s personal experiences and emotional state of mind. Where CBT generally implements individual treatment sessions that address past experiences, DBT builds upon that therapeutic approach and typically includes a group therapy component, in addition to individual therapy.

This integrated or mixed approach to the overall therapeutic experience of DBT can also include options, such as:

  • Skill training to better manage personal emotions
  • A specific focus on building relationships with others
  • Methods on how to cope with personal moments of distress
  • Skill building to embrace the concept of acceptance

Add to this the important element of mindfulness training and you have the distinct differences between cognitive behavioral therapy and dialectical behavior therapy. However, to fully understand the distinction between the two forms of therapy, it is best to consider that:

  • CBT focuses on how your thoughts, feelings and behaviors influence each other
  • DBT does incorporate these components, but the emphasis is given more towards regulating emotions, being mindful and learning to accept pain
  • CBT seeks to give patients the ability to recognize when their thoughts might become troublesome and gives them techniques to redirect those problematic thoughts
  • DBT helps patients find ways to accept themselves, feel safe and manage their emotions to help regulate potentially destructive or harmful behaviors

These differences separate the two forms of therapy and enable the two approaches to help an individual experience rehabilitation and personal growth in distinctively different ways.

Choosing the best one to suit your needs requires a consultation with a clinical professional in order to recognize your specific areas of behavioral concern and identify the best approach to helping you achieve sobriety and personal growth.

CBT vs. DBT: Find Your Right Approach at the Right Recovery Center

Regardless of your personal history or current addiction, beginning your recovery journey under the guidance of a qualified clinical professional is essential to achieving long-term success and happiness.

Finding a fully licensed facility to initiate your rehabilitation is the first step toward a sober mindset and healthier existence. When facing the disease of addiction, it is the clinician’s responsibility to identify whether cognitive behavioral therapy or dialectical behavior therapy is the best fit for your recovery.

Doing the necessary research to find the right facility is your responsibility, so take the process seriously and do your homework before deciding where your recovery journey will begin.

Life-Changing Holistic Addiction Recovery and Relapse Prevention at Ranch Creek Recovery

Offering both cognitive behavioral therapy and dialectical behavior therapy – both from an individualized approach with world-renowned licensed therapists and addiction recovery experts, Ranch Creek Recovery is a luxury, non-12-step rehab and holistic treatment center where a large component of our treatment programs is rooted in cognitive behavioral therapy and dialectical behavior therapy.

At Ranch Creek Recovery, our team of treatment experts will work one-on-one with you to create a custom treatment plan that will include customized therapy sessions and holistic, experiential treatment that will help you center your mind, body and spirit as you begin to forge your new, sober life.

Learn more about Ranch Creek Recovery, including what we offer and what we treat.

Have questions? We’re here to help in any way we can. Contact us today.

CALL NOW: (877) 293-8607