Is cbt effective for substance use disorders?

Cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, is a form of psychotherapy that is effective in treating a variety of mental health problems, including mood disorders, anxiety disorders, and substance use disorders. CBT to treat alcohol and drug addiction involves focusing on thoughts, emotions, and behaviors to challenge unhelpful patterns and teach them new coping skills. As with other treatments for alcohol and drug abuse, including pharmaceutical treatments, cognitive behavioral therapy to treat addiction is more effective in promoting and aiding long-term recovery when combined with other efforts. A meta-analytic review of interventions based on myocardial infarction found that the magnitude of the effects in the studies was in the small to moderate range in the case of alcohol and in the moderate range in the case of drug use, compared to a control group with placebo or without treatment, and an efficacy similar to that of comparisons between active treatments.

When an addicted person understands why they feel or act in a certain way and how those feelings and actions lead to substance use, they are better prepared to overcome their addiction. An important distinction between CBT for drug addiction and other treatment modalities is its ability to help clients learn to anticipate problem scenarios that may result in a relapse. For example, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), together with the Center for Technology Transfer for Addiction (ATTC) and the Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services Administration (SAMHSA), instituted a combined initiative in 2001 to help combine the knowledge and skills of researchers, clinicians, policymakers, and outreach programs to help develop and implement evidence-based treatments that can be used in community settings. When compared to other treatment approaches, there are cases where behavioral therapy for addiction is more effective or provides the same efficacy compared to other treatments.

These disorders are very common: it is estimated that lifetime rates of substance abuse or dependence exceeded 30% in the case of alcohol and more than 10% in the case of other drugs, and last year there were prevalence rates of 8.5% in the case of alcohol and 2% in the case of other drugs. The effects of cannabis treatment were found to be greater, followed by those of cocaine, opioids and, with the smallest effects, polydependence. For example, in a meta-analysis of drug addiction treatments, the combination of cognitive-behavioral therapy and mycotherapy produced the most significant effects (in the wide range) compared to other interventions alone, but only two studies contributed to achieving that magnitude, making confidence in this approach limited. Regarding individual treatment types, there was some evidence pointing to a greater magnitude of the effect of contingency management approaches (see below) compared to relapse prevention or other cognitive-behavioral treatments.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy to treat addiction is one of the most commonly evaluated psychosocial approaches to treat substance use disorders. Thanks to the lasting skills learned during CBT, such as the skills to better cope with stress and manage destructive thoughts and actions, approximately 60% of people who receive treatment with cognitive behavioral therapy to treat addiction can maintain their recovery for a year. This behavioral therapy for treating addiction is based on the idea that it's not really external influences, situations, certain occasions, or the environment that influence your negative feelings, behavior, and substance use disorder, but that it's your own thoughts.