Cognitive Behavioral Interventions for Alcohol and Drug Use Disorders

Cognitive Behavioral Interventions for Alcohol and Drug use Disorders
Psychology of Addictive Behaviors

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is widely utilized and recognized as an effective approach in treating alcohol and drug use disorders. Since its inception, cognitive-behavioral approaches have played a crucial role in understanding and addressing addictive behaviors. Over the years, these approaches have undergone extensive examination and have been prominently featured in practice guidelines and treatment recommendations (U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, 2016; American Society of Addiction Medicine, 2015).

Meta-analyses conducted over three decades consistently show the effectiveness of CBT across different substances, particularly emphasizing alcohol and drug use disorders. These analyses demonstrate a statistically significant treatment effect in favor of CBT compared to control conditions, with effect sizes varying depending on the type of comparison condition.

Moreover, the efficacy of CBT extends beyond alcohol and drug use disorders, showing promising results in treating marijuana use specifically. Although research on CBT for marijuana use is limited, studies suggest moderate effect sizes, indicating its potential effectiveness in addressing this particular substance use disorder. Reconnecting CBT with recent advancements in neuroscience holds the potential to refine its effectiveness in addressing the core features of addiction, offering hope for individuals seeking recovery. 


Highlights from the Meta-Analysis

"Another key component of CBT, while not necessarily specific to it, is emphasis on extrasession practice assignments (hereafter referred to as homework) as a means of facilitating the generalization and maintenance of adaptive behavioral and cognitive skills."

“The study touches on the challenges of disseminating evidence-based treatments like CBT to wider populations and healthcare settings, highlighting the importance of addressing barriers to implementation and ensuring access to effective treatments for individuals with substance use disorders.”

“Unlike many other therapies, CBT seeks to convey strategies for achieving and maintaining cognitive and behavioral control, and new technologies may help us do so more effectively.”

At Feeling Good Institute, our therapists specialize in evidence-based Cognitive Behavioral Interventions for many concerns, including alcohol and drug use disorders. We're dedicated to supporting clients on their recovery journey, improving their quality of life through our tailored approach for achieving lasting results.

Research Brief Author: Shiveta Gandotra Ph.D. LMFT


American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM). (2015). ASAM National Practice Guideline for the use of medications in the treatment of addiction involving opioid use. Chevy Chase, MD: ASAM.

Carroll, K. M., & Kiluk, B. D. (2017). Cognitive Behavioral Interventions for Alcohol and Drug Use Disorders: Through the Stage Model and Back Again. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 31(8), 847–861.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Office of the Surgeon General. (2016). Facing addiction in America: The Surgeon General’s report on alcohol, drugs, and health. Washington, DC: HHS.

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