Behavioral therapies for addiction treatment (e.g. cognitive behavioral therapy, contingency management)


There are many different types of addiction treatment available, but there are a few commonalities among them. A good addiction therapist will have training in all of these approaches to therapy and can help you find the best fit for your needs.

Cognitive behavioral therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy is a type of psychotherapy that focuses on helping people change their thoughts and behaviors. It helps patients identify the thoughts and behaviors that lead to addiction, as well as learn new ways of thinking about their triggers. CBT can help people avoid triggers by identifying the situations they’re most likely to get into trouble in, like bars or parties with alcohol present; then asking questions like: “What do I want out of this situation?” or “What am I doing right now that could make me more likely to engage in risky behavior?”

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Contingency management

In this therapy, you are given a task and then rewarded for completing it. For example, you might be told that if you attend the 12-step meeting that day, then your friend will buy you a soda. If not, he’ll give it to someone else instead.

Many people with addiction have trouble making good choices in their life because they don’t have enough energy or motivation to think about what’s best for them—so when people offer them an alternative solution, like having free soda instead of paying $5 at the store because they didn’t show up at group last night (or other reasons), it can make all the difference!

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Motivational interviewing

Motivational interviewing is a type of therapy that helps people change their behavior. The goal is to engage in a structured conversation with the person being treated, who has an addiction problem, in order to help them address their urges and/or thoughts about using substances or engaging in other activities that result from their addiction.

Motivational interviewing follows these steps:

  • Identify specific goals for therapy (e.g., reduce drug use)
  • Develop a plan for how you’ll achieve those goals (e.g., avoid triggers)
  • Schedule regular follow-up appointments

Family-based treatment

Family-based treatment is a form of psychotherapy that helps families cope with addiction. It’s not for everyone, but it can be effective in helping some people get sober. Families may be in recovery or not, including the entire family and just one member. Sometimes families meet together at the same time (group therapy) or separately (individual counseling).

Twelve-step facilitation therapy

Twelve-step facilitation therapy is a form of behavioral therapy that uses the principles of Alcoholics Anonymous to treat addiction. The goal of this type of treatment is for patients to develop the skills they need to stay sober and avoid relapse, so it can be used in conjunction with other types of treatment such as cognitive behavioral therapy or contingency management.

In order for twelve-step facilitation therapy to work effectively, there must be a strong commitment on behalf of both patient and therapist; otherwise, there will be no progress made toward achieving sobriety over time.

Addiction is a complex disease that requires treatment beyond detoxification.

Addiction is a complex disease that requires treatment beyond detoxification. It’s not a moral failing, but rather an illness of the brain that can be treated with medication and behavioral therapy.

Addiction is not something you choose; it’s not something you’re weak or flawed in some way; it’s not something that will stop just because you want it to. You can choose to recover from addiction—and you should!


We hope this article has helped you understand addiction and how to best treat it. Remember that addiction is a serious disease, but with treatment and support, you can overcome your struggles.


Scarlett Watson

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