Psychology Topics

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy: Reducing Addiction

Cognitive behaviour therapy is based on the assumption that feelings and behaviours (such as gambling or drug dependence) are caused by a person's faulty thought processes. According to cognitive-behavioural therapists, people can change how they think about an addictive substance/behaviour and therefore change how they feel and behave. It can be delivered in a group format or on a one-to-one basis. When used to reduce addiction, the goal of cognitive behavioural therapy is to teach the person to recognise situations in which they are most likely to drink, use drugs, gamble etc. and then train them to avoid these circumstances. A person is also helped to find alternative ways to cope with other problems in their lives which may trigger their addictive behaviour. If the person is being treated for pathological gambling then they would be helped to identify and correct the cognitive biases (e.g. ‘the gamblers fallacy’, ‘illusions of control’) that they use to make decisions when gambling. This should lead to a process of ‘cognitive restructuring’ where the person begins to think differently about their problem behaviour and at this point the therapist would encourage them to practise these changes in their everyday lives.

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