Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Addiction

The Role of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Addiction Recovery

Learn more about the benefits of cognitive-behavioral therapy for addiction recovery at Mile High Recovery Center.

Heal From Your Addiction in Denver, CO

Mile High Recovery Center (MHRC) is a top provider of addiction and mental health treatment in Denver, Colorado. Our center is committed to providing personalized and effective care to people who need help with addiction and mental health challenges.

MHRC focuses on treating the whole person, addressing individual needs to support a strong and lasting recovery. A key part of our specialized approach is cognitive-behavioral therapy for addiction recovery.
Known for its success, cognitive-behavioral therapy for addiction recovery helps people understand and change the thought patterns that lead to harmful behaviors. This therapy is a central part of our mission to provide the tools needed for long-term sobriety and improved mental wellness.
Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Addiction

Understanding Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Addiction Recovery

Cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, is a widely used and evidence-based form of psychotherapy. It helps people recognize the connection between their thoughts, feelings, and actions. CBT focuses on identifying and changing negative thought patterns and behaviors that can be contributing to addiction.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy for addiction recovery helps people explore the underlying beliefs and emotions that may be fueling their addictive behaviors.
These beliefs and emotions might include:
  • Low self-esteem: This can lead someone to use substances to feel better about themselves.
  • Stress and anxiety: Substances may be misused as a way to cope with difficult emotions.
  • Negative self-talk: Believing things like “I’m weak” or “I can’t handle this” can make someone more likely to turn to substances.

Through cognitive-behavioral therapy for addiction treatment, clients can learn to challenge these negative thoughts and develop healthier coping mechanisms to manage their emotions and navigate challenging situations without resorting to substance use.

Application of CBT in Addiction Treatment

At Mile High Recovery Center, cognitive-behavioral therapy for addiction is a key part of the treatment programs. This therapy is used in both individual therapy sessions and group counseling to help people overcome addiction.

Individual Therapy Sessions

In individual therapy sessions, clients work one-on-one with a therapist to identify the thoughts and beliefs that lead to addictive behaviors. The therapist helps the client recognize their triggers, which are situations or feelings that make them want to use substances.

Together, they challenge these irrational beliefs and replace them with healthier, more positive thoughts.

Group Counseling

Group counseling is another important part of the CBT program at Mile High Recovery Center. In these sessions, clients share their experiences and support each other in a safe, guided environment.

Group counseling helps people see that they are not alone in their struggles and learn from the experiences of others.

CBT Techniques for Addiction Recovery

Several techniques are used in cognitive-behavioral therapy for addiction treatment to help people achieve recovery.
These techniques include:
  • Identifying triggers: In CBT sessions, clients learn to recognize the people, places, and situations that can trigger cravings for substances. This self-awareness allows them to develop strategies to avoid these triggers or cope with them in a healthy way. 
  • Challenging irrational beliefs: CBT helps people identify negative thought patterns that contribute to addiction. 
  • Developing coping skills: CBT equips people with practical coping skills to manage stress, anxiety, and other emotions that can lead to substance use. These skills might include relaxation techniques, communication tools, and healthy activities to replace addictive behaviors.  
These techniques help clients manage their thoughts and behaviors in a healthier way, reducing the risk of relapse. By focusing on these key areas, cognitive-behavioral therapy for addiction helps people build a strong foundation for long-term recovery.

Targeting Cravings and Triggers

Cognitive-behavioral therapy for addiction recovery plays a crucial role in helping people recognize and manage cravings and triggers linked to addictive behaviors. By understanding these triggers, they learn how to cope with them effectively and reduce the chances of relapse.
CBT teaches specific strategies to manage cravings. Two effective techniques are urge surfing and distraction.

Urge Surfing

Urge surfing involves riding out the craving like a wave, without giving in to it. Clients are taught to observe their craving without trying to fight it. They focus on how the craving feels in their body, noticing the sensations and acknowledging them without acting on them.
The idea is to accept the craving, realizing that it will rise, peak, and eventually subside like a wave. This mindful approach helps people see that cravings are temporary and do not have to control their actions.

Distraction Techniques

When cravings hit, people are encouraged to distract themselves with other activities that can shift their focus away from the craving.
This can include engaging in hobbies like:
  • Drawing
  • Playing a musical instrument
  • Reading a book
  • Going for a run
  • Practicing yoga
  • Taking a walk 
Spending time with supportive friends and family, playing a game, or doing a puzzle can also help take the mind off the craving. The goal of these distraction techniques is to occupy the mind and body with something positive. This can reduce the intensity of the cravings and prevent relapse.

Addressing Co-Occurring Disorders

Cognitive-behavioral therapy for addiction can be tailored to address co-occurring mental health disorders, such as depression and anxiety. These conditions are commonly associated with addiction.
Studies show that around 48% of people with a substance use disorder also suffer from a mental health condition. This highlights the importance of treating both issues at the same time for effective recovery.1

Modifying CBT for Dual Diagnosis Treatment

CBT is highly adaptable and can be modified to target the specific symptoms of co-occurring disorders.2
For example, when dealing with depression, CBT focuses on identifying and challenging negative thoughts that contribute to feelings of hopelessness and low self-esteem. For anxiety, CBT techniques help people confront and reduce irrational fears and worries.

Our Integrated Approach to Dual Diagnosis Treatment

At Mile High Recovery Center, the integrated approach to dual diagnosis treatment combines cognitive-behavioral therapy for addiction with other therapeutic modalities.
This combined approach helps to address both addiction and mental health conditions. This ensures that individuals receive comprehensive care tailored to their unique needs.

Other Therapeutic Techniques Used at MHRC

In addition to CBT, other therapeutic modalities at Mile High Recovery Center include:
  • Medication management
  • Mindfulness practices
  • Holistic therapies such as yoga and art therapy
By combining cognitive-behavioral therapy for addiction with these additional treatments, Mile High Recovery Center provides a well-rounded approach to help people overcome both addiction and co-occurring mental health disorders, leading to a more sustainable recovery.

Building Coping Skills and Relapse Prevention Techniques with CBT

Relapse is a risk factor in any addiction recovery journey, with relapse rates between 40-60% of those with a substance use disorder.3
However, cognitive-behavioral therapy for addiction equips people with powerful tools to develop effective coping skills and prevent relapse.

Cognitive Restructuring

CBT teaches people to identify and challenge negative thought patterns that can lead to substance use.
By replacing these thoughts with more realistic and positive ones, clients build resilience and develop a stronger sense of self-efficacy in managing challenges without resorting to drugs or alcohol.

Behavioral Rehearsal

This technique involves practicing healthy coping skills in a safe and controlled environment. For example, someone might role-play how to refuse drugs in a social setting or practice relaxation techniques to manage stress.
By rehearsing these behaviors, people gain confidence in their ability to handle difficult situations without relapse.

Developing a Relapse Prevention Plan

Cognitive-behavioral therapy for addiction also helps people develop a personalized relapse prevention plan.
This plan might include:
  • Identifying high-risk situations
  • Developing coping mechanisms for triggers
  • Building a strong support network
Through these strategies, cognitive-behavioral therapy for addiction empowers people in recovery to take charge of their well-being and navigate challenges with confidence, ultimately reducing their risk of relapse and promoting long-term success.4

Enhancing Motivation and Self-Efficacy Through CBT

Cognitive-behavioral therapy for addiction includes techniques like motivational interviewing and goal setting to enhance motivation and self-efficacy in recovery. These techniques help people believe in their ability to change and stay committed to their recovery journey.

Motivational Interviewing (MI)

This collaborative approach helps clients explore their ambivalence about change and identify their own reasons for wanting to achieve sobriety.

Therapists use motivational interviewing techniques to build:

  • Trust
  • Empathy
  • A sense of empowerment
This can increase a person’s motivation to commit to recovery.5

Goal Setting

Cognitive-behavioral therapy for addiction emphasizes setting realistic and achievable goals throughout the recovery process. As clients accomplish these goals, they experience a sense of accomplishment, which builds confidence and self-efficacy.
This increased self-belief can strengthen their resolve to continue their recovery journey.

Collaborative Approach

CBT therapists work collaboratively with clients throughout treatment. Therapists act as guides and facilitators, but clients in recovery play an active role in:
  • Setting goals
  • Identifying triggers
  • Practicing coping skills
This collaborative approach empowers people to take ownership of their recovery and fosters a sense of self-efficacy that is essential for long-term success.

Empowering Change and Long-Term Recovery with CBT

Through cognitive-behavioral therapy for addiction recovery, people in recovery gain valuable insights into how their thinking patterns and emotions influence their actions.
This newfound self-awareness allows them to make conscious choices and break free from the cycle of addiction.

Sustaining Long-Term Recovery

Building long-term recovery requires continued practice and reinforcement of the skills learned in CBT. Mile High Recovery Center offers ongoing support groups and alumni programs. These provide a safe space for people to practice their skills and connect with others on a similar path.
Through continued effort and a commitment to healthy living, clients can achieve lasting sobriety and build a fulfilling life.
CBT is a valuable component of addiction treatment at MHRC. By equipping people with the tools and strategies to manage cravings, triggers, and negative thought patterns, cognitive-behavioral therapy for addiction empowers them to reclaim control over their lives.

Integrating Holistic Approaches

At MHRC, cognitive-behavioral therapy for addiction is complemented by holistic therapies, fostering healing and well-being. This integrated approach ensures that clients receive comprehensive care addressing their mental, emotional, and physical needs.
They include:
  • Mindfulness practices
  • Yoga
  • Music therapy
  • Equine therapy
  • Recreational therapy
These modalities support the principles of CBT in addiction treatment. These therapies enhance the benefits of CBT by promoting relaxation, self-awareness, and emotional balance.

Mindfulness Practices

Mindfulness involves paying attention to the present moment without judgment. It helps people become more aware of their thoughts and feelings, which is crucial in CBT.
Mindfulness practices, such as meditation and deep-breathing exercises, help clients manage stress and reduce cravings by staying focused on the present.


Yoga combines physical postures, breathing exercises, and meditation to promote physical and mental well-being.

It helps people:
  • Develop bodily awareness
  • Reduce stress
  • Improve emotional regulation
Yoga supports CBT by enhancing self-discipline and providing a healthy outlet for managing stress.

Music Therapy

Music therapy uses music to address emotional and psychological needs. It can help people:

  • Express their feelings
  • Improve their mood
  • Reduce anxiety
Music therapy complements CBT by providing a creative and therapeutic way to process emotions and cope with challenges.

Equine Therapy

Equine therapy involves interactions with horses to promote emotional growth and healing. Working with horses helps clients develop trust, patience, and empathy.

This therapy supports CBT by encouraging positive social interactions and building self-confidence.

Recreational Therapy

Recreational therapy includes activities such as sports, games, and outdoor adventures. These activities help people develop healthy hobbies and improve physical health. It complements CBT by providing positive and enjoyable ways to cope with stress and prevent relapse.

By integrating holistic therapies with cognitive-behavioral therapy for addiction, Mile High Recovery Center offers a well-rounded treatment program that addresses all aspects of recovery.
These holistic modalities support the principles of CBT, helping people achieve lasting recovery and a balanced, healthy life.
Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Addiction

Embracing Growth Through CBT at MHRC

At Mile High Recovery Center, we believe that cognitive-behavioral therapy for addiction treatment is a powerful tool for achieving long-term recovery. Through CBT, people learn to take control of their thoughts, behaviors, and ultimately, their lives.
Our CBT-based programs offer a comprehensive approach to healing, integrating CBT with holistic therapies like mindfulness practices, yoga, and various expressive therapies.
This holistic approach addresses the mind, body, and spirit. In doing so, it promotes long-term well-being and a life free from the grip of addiction.

Contact Mile High Recovery Center Today

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction and seeking evidence-based, holistic treatment approaches, we encourage you to reach out to Mile High Recovery Center today by calling 303-268-2144 or sending us a message.

Our compassionate team is here to answer your questions and guide you toward a brighter future. Don’t wait, take control of your addiction with us today.

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