Managing Thoughts & Behaviors During Addiction Treatment

Managing Thoughts & Behaviors During Addiction Treatment

In addiction treatment, cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) is an intervention often used to help individuals manage thoughts and behaviors.

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In addiction treatment, cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) is an intervention often used to help individuals manage thoughts and behaviors.

Cognitive behavioral therapy is talk therapy with a substance abuse counselor that encourages individuals to connect how their thoughts and feelings impact their behavior. Negative thought patterns can lead to unhealthy behaviors such as substance abuse. Cognitive behavior therapy helps the individuals evaluate thoughts to create healthy behaviors.

Many different models and techniques have been developed for treatments under the umbrella of CBT. The most important concept that all techniques utilize is helping the individual recognize that thoughts, feelings, and behaviors create reciprocal effects. For example, if a person relapses this behavior creates negative thoughts and feelings of self; retaliative negative thoughts and feelings may contribute to the relapse creating an endless cycle.

Breaking negative thought and behavior patterns involves helping the individual increase self-awareness by being critical and honest about feelings and behaviors.

For those in recovery, one easy to remember model of CBT is the ABC model:

A - Activating Event

In recovery reflecting back to what events preceded substance use. This is commonly known as triggers. Triggers can be anything that precipitates using substances. It is very important to make a list of individual triggers for the future. Examples of triggers can be stress, smells, driving by the store/place you bought or used substances, past trauma, conflicts, relationship issues, parties/social events and negative or positive thoughts and feelings.

B - Belief

Your own perception, thoughts and feeling about the activating event that precipitated using substances. Individuals are encouraged to evaluate their interpretation of the situation, assess cognitive distortions and individual perception of events with emphasis on one's own thoughts and emotions/feelings. Before a relapse occurs, understand what your beliefs are and challenge them by asking yourself the following questions: Are my thoughts correct? What would a friend or loved one say? What could I have done differently in this situation?

C - Consequence

Is the action of using substances a result of an individual's negative or positive thoughts or feelings. If a relapse occurs it is not too late, reflection of the activating events and recognition of your own beliefs is key in preventing a future relapse. Creating an individualized relapse prevention plan will help guide you when triggers and negative thoughts jeopardize your sobriety.


Activating Event:

Disagreement with my spouse about not putting dishes away last night.


“What does it matter if I'm sober, I can’t do anything right.”


Going to the bar and drinking.

Activating Event : Looking back on the Activating event, one may ask themselves, what could I have done differently? Was my spouse just having a bad day?

Beliefs : Are my thoughts correct? If I asked my spouse would they say I don’t do anything right? Try making a list of all the things you do right. Noting sobriety on the top of your list.

Consequence : What can I do next time to avoid using substances? Try talking to a trusted friend, professional or loved one. Have a relapse prevention plan in place for when triggers arise.

If you or a loved one need help for an addiction and want to talk to participate in substance abuse counseling, or want to schedule an evaluation, feel free to contact us: (630) 402-0144