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Behavioral Therapy in Addiction Treatment

October 15, 2019

Comprehensive addiction treatment utilizes a variety of behavioral therapies to treat substance use disorders. In order to make this treatment most effective, they are held in different treatment settings. These include group therapy, individual therapy, and family therapy. After all, addiction affects people’s minds, their interpersonal relationships, their families, and more. 


Addiction is a compulsive disorder that leads to obsessive thinking and habitual drug or alcohol abuse. Since negative behaviors are so ingrained in the minds of addicts, it’s important to address and change these behaviors. Treatment is most successful when a person learns how to cope in healthy ways using positive behaviors. The sole purpose of behavioral therapy is to help people change their self-destructive behaviors, enabling them to achieve lasting sobriety. 


What Behavioral Therapy Does

Behavioral therapy works best when it is tailored to meet an individual’s specific needs and preferences. Before treatment can begin, each client will have access to an individualized treatment plan that is agreed to between the client and his or her therapist. Regardless of the specific treatment plan that is designed, behavioral therapy does many things for people suffering from addiction.[1]


Some ways that behavioral therapy works include: 

-Keeps individuals engaged in their treatment plan

-Creates incentives to stay sober for

-Promotes changes in behaviors and attitudes that are beneficial to sobriety

-Helps clients gain self-awareness

-Allows clients to accurately evaluate their thoughts, ideas, behaviors, beliefs, and attitudes about themselves and others

-Helps clients develop new ways of thinking about their past, present, and future

-Arms individuals with life skills and relapse prevention techniques to combat stress and cope with anxiety


There are a number of behavioral therapies that have proven effective in treating substance use disorders. 


Types of Behavioral Therapies

At Truth Recovery Center in South Florida, we actively engage our clients in behavioral therapies while they are in treatment. These therapies can help clients identify and change their behaviors to improve their chances of long-term sobriety. 


Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) 

CBT strategies are based on the theory that learning processes and negative behaviors as a result of substance abuse play an important role in a person’s life. Therefore, in CBT, individuals learn how to identify and change mal-adaptive behaviors. Clients learn skills that can put an end to drug or alcohol abuse as well as other problems that occur with substance abuse. In addition, CBT requires patients to look at the negative consequences of their substance use, recognize triggers, deal with cravings, and develop coping strategies.[2]


Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

DBT teaches patients healthy life skills to cope with unpleasant emotions and help with conflict resolution within their relationships.[3] This type of therapy focuses on four key areas, including:


-Distress tolerance

-Emotion regulation

-Interpersonal effectiveness

In addition to substance use disorders, DBT is effective in treating depression, eating disorders, bipolar disorder, and PTSD as well. Overall, DBT helps patients gain balance within their lives. 


Contingency Management

Contingency management involves giving clients tangible rewards that reinforce positive behaviors. Humans naturally pursue behaviors that create a feeling of reward or accomplishment. When a reward is given for a behavior, a person feels encouraged to repeat those behaviors in the future. Similarly, when drugs and alcohol are abused, the pleasure or reward centers in the brain are triggered. This can lead to an addictive lifestyle. However, contingency management treatment focuses on placed rewards on sobriety rather than drug or alcohol abuse. It helps people learn positive behaviors and change their actions in order to receive a reward.[4]


Family Therapy

Family behavioral therapy involves the patient and at least one significant other or family member. A therapist will engage both participants to help the relationship heal from addiction, learn new behaviors, and learn how both parties can help one another. Having a family who understands addiction and the recovery process is critical. After all, families can provide immeasurable support to a recovering addict. 


12-Step Facilitation

Many people are introduced to 12-step fellowships through the addiction treatment center they attend. In rehab, many therapists will encourage patients to begin practicing some of these principles in their daily lives. In addition, they are encouraged to join a 12-step fellowship after completing their treatment program. 


Behavioral Addiction Treatment in West Palm, FL

Behavioral therapy is a critical component of any sustainable addiction treatment plan. Learning how to let go of old behaviors and replace them with new, healthy ones is crucial for individuals to achieve lasting sobriety. Integrating different types of behavioral therapies into rehab facilities is a common, effective practice across the nation. 


“At Truth Recovery Center, we offer a variety of evidence-based and fully customizable treatment methods for each client. We’ll create an addiction treatment program to fit your needs. Our individualized and integrated treatment plans are designed with each client in mind to build a solid and lasting foundation for independent and substance-free living.”



  1. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-drug-addiction-treatment/evidence-based-approaches-to-drug-addiction-treatment/behavioral-therapies
  2. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-drug-addiction-treatment-research-based-guide-third-edition/evidence-based-approaches-to-drug-addiction-treatment/behavioral
  3. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/therapy-types/dialectical-behavior-therapy
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3083448/