CBT, Substance Addiction’s Mortal Enemy

Last Updated: Sep 20th 2019

Reviewed by Brittany Polansky, MSW, LCSW

A person recovering from drug or alcohol addiction is very likely going to encounter behavioral therapies in their substance abuse recovery program. It doesn’t matter whether a person is seeking out a South Florida alcohol treatment program or a South Florida drug rehab, Ft. Lauderdale rehab facilities almost all offer cognitive behavioral therapies as a part of their treatment programs.

What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a kind of therapy based on a learning of life skills and operant conditioning, or instrumental conditioning, which is a way of learning that emphasises positive consequence to positive actions. In an article, Behavioral Therapies for Drug Use, in The American Journal of Psychiatry, Dr. Kathleen M. Carroll says that cognitive behavioral therapies are hinged on two key goals(https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3633201/):


  1. Understanding One’s Addiction: A person struggling with addiction to drugs or alcohol must first understand “functionally” the ins and outs of their own addiction in order to heal and thrive. That is to say they must understand both the scientific aspects of their addiction, the substance they are or were chemically dependant upon, and what that substance did and does to their bodies. It also asks that the recovering alcoholic or drug addict assess and understand the context that led them to develop an addiction. The therapy requires the patient to face the struggle, it emphasises a letting go of the shame spiral and guilt built in to addiction. This sort of disarming of addiction allows for a person to learn new life skills that help them to not only successfully get sober, but to rebuild their lives in a way that can support sober living.
  2. Life Skills Training: Learning new coping mechanisms and letting go of those that no longer serve you is a huge aspect of cognitive behavioral therapy. This involves the recovering substance abuser learning how to notice their emotional and behavioral reactions as they arise, especially during difficult situations. This leads to a healthy understanding of high intensity triggers and a solid plan of action when confronted with them.


CBT and 1st Step Substance Recovery Treatment


CBT is often used as a focus in relapse prevention treatment, but is such a potent weapon against drug and alcohol addiction that cognitive behavioral therapy is usually offered throughout a treatment program, depending on the individual needs of the patient. At 1st Step Behavioral Health we offer CBT as well as many other types of therapy and will help patients create recovery programs that work specifically for them. Call today to understand more about CBT and our programs at large.


Reviewed for Medical & Clinical Accuracy by Brittany Polansky, MSW, LCSW

Brittany has been working in behavioral health since 2012 and is the Assistant Clinical Director at our facility. She is an LCSW and holds a master’s degree in social work. She has great experience with chemical dependency and co-occurring mental health diagnoses as well as various therapeutic techniques. Brittany is passionate about treating all clients with dignity and respect, and providing a safe environment where clients can begin their healing journey in recovery.