Using CBT for Alcohol Use Disorder Treatment

Entering an inpatient rehab facility for alcohol detox, prescription drug rehabilitation, or some other detox for substance use disorder is an excellent first step in taking you down the right path headed to your recovery. The road to abstinence isn't easy, but it isn't that hard with the proper support.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy, or CBT, is one of the most widely used therapeutic mediums in drug and alcohol rehabs. As it relates to alcohol use disorder or AUD, it is empirically one of the most effective approaches to psychotherapy with a structure that practically guarantees a patient's successfully sustained sobriety once leaving an alcohol rehab center. 

AUD Vs. Psychological Tools, CBT Groups, and Co-Occurring Mental Health Conditions 

A person's recovery from alcohol use disorder doesn't occur with alcohol detox alone. At inpatient rehab facilities like Wish Rehab, therapists teach alcohol misusers that, with the appropriate use of psychological tools, they can handle themselves well and maintain abstinence in real-life situations involving peer pressure or triggers of maladaptive behaviors. 


Knowing the root cause of specific behavior, the patient and therapist have the fundamental grounds for their work together while at rehab. In therapy, using this foundation, they begin to create new thoughts and neurological passageways for the patient by coming up with more progressive and healthier ideas. They can also challenge thoughts or core beliefs by searching for evidence supporting or discrediting those thoughts' validity. One of the mantras of CBT is, "Beliefs are not facts." 


The use of CBT as an AUD treatment has repeatedly proven to be vital as a therapeutic option to prevent relapse. It is helpful for clients in sustaining their long-term sobriety upon leaving the rehabilitative environment. In many cases, individuals diagnosed with alcohol use disorder also have a co-occurring mental health condition. 

Inpatient rehab centers can optimize clients' responses to CBT's restructuring of core beliefs and automatic and conditioned thoughts with CBT groups in conjunction with one-on-one sessions with therapists. There's priceless value in group therapy, as it allows people to share their experiences. 


Often, group members find out they aren't alone and have gone through the same things as others in their substance use. Other times a member can offer a different experience, which can be different from most members in the group but manages to widen the group's perception of an issue, general thought, or feeling. Groups help dissolve those feelings one might have of being the only one with a particular experience. Group therapy is also a way to make new friends who share similar struggles and respect each other's addiction recovery goals.

Three Fundamental Propositions of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Thoughts are not facts, and we may choose not to accept them. By challenging negative beliefs and replacing them with more positive, realistic, and useful ones, we may change how we feel and the outcomes of our actions. There are three cornerstone principles of CBT:

Core beliefs 

The beliefs we experienced when we were children shape our foundation. They originate in how we conceptualize ourselves, our world, the future, and our ideas about these things. 

Automatic negative thinking 

Automatic negative thoughts are habitual, uncontrollable unfavorable interpretations of the world around us. Due to their fleeting nature and the bad feelings they evoke, they are not always easy to see. How you feel about something is directly related to how you think about it and react to it.

Faulty assumptions 

Our species has a propensity to dwell on the bad rather than the good. But these cognitive distortions are illogical ways of thinking that warp our worldviews. 

Common Cognitive Distortions

On rare occasions, we all suffer from cognitive distortions. It's natural to have them sometimes, although you could feel them more with alcohol abuse or when experiencing strong emotions. The following are some of the most common:

Always right 

When this desire outweighs facts and other people's sentiments, it's a cognitive distortion. You mistake your own beliefs for facts. This is why you'll do everything to be correct.


Mental filtering drains a situation's strengths and focuses on its downsides. You concentrate on negatives even if a situation or person has more positives. 

Global labels 

Labeling turns a single attribute into an absolute; w When you identify yourself or others based on a single incident. This is a sort of overgeneralization that ignores context. This leads to inaccurate self- and other perceptions. Labels affect how you interact with people. This may strain relationships. When you label yourself, you may feel uneasy and worried. 

All-or-nothing thinking 

Polarized thinking is "all-or-nothing" thinking. This cognitive distortion leads to black-and-white thinking without grays. All-or-nothing thinking leads to unreasonable expectations for yourself and others, affecting relationships and motivation. Polarized thinking is "either/or" This might make you overlook people's and circumstances' intricacy. 

Fallacy of change 

The fallacy of change is expecting others to change to meet your wants or expectations, especially under duress. 


When you overgeneralize, you convert a single loss into a never-ending trend. Overgeneralization uses terms like "always," "never," "everything," and "nothing." Overgeneralization might also occur in your worldview.

Emotional reasoning 

Emotional reasoning assumes your feelings mirror reality. Cognitive distortion: "I feel this way. Thus it must be true." This cognitive distortion may make you think future occurrences rely on how you feel. You may also judge a situation by how you feel. If someone upsets you, you assume they're mistreating you. 


Minimizing positives is like mental filtering. The fundamental distinction is that you discount it when you see positive elements of a situation. 


"Should" statements are subjective standards you make for yourself and others without considering the context. You insist on things being a specific way. You tell yourself, "Be better." You feel guilty, dissatisfied, let down, or upset when these things don't happen. 


Jumping to conclusions is interpreting a situation negatively without proof. After assuming, you act. Jumping to conclusions or "mind-reading" typically responds to a persistent idea or anxiety. 


Blaming is attributing your feelings to others. "You made me sad" is a cognitive distortion. Even when people offend you, you can usually influence how you feel. The misperception is thinking others have more power than you do.


Jumping to conclusions is like catastrophizing. You assume the worst in every event, no matter how unlikely. "What if" thoughts cause this cognitive distortion. What if he had an accident? What if they betray or desert me? One event may prompt several catastrophizing conclusions. 

Fallacy of fairness 

This cognitive distortion involves judging every conduct and scenario for fairness. Finding that others don't see an incident as right makes you bitter. You know what's fair, and it bothers you when others disagree. The illusion of fairness can lead to conflict with some individuals and circumstances because you want everything to be "fair" Fairness is uncommon and sometimes self-serving. 


Personalization makes you feel you're accountable for circumstances you can't control. This cognitive distortion causes shame or blame without considering all variables involved. With personalizing, you take things personally. 

Control fallacies 

Fallacy means delusion, misunderstanding, or wrong. With a control fallacy, you either feel accountable or in charge of everything in your and others' lives or believe you have no control over anything. In this case, you let someone or something else influence your conduct. The external control fallacy is another control assumption, believing your acts and presence control others' lives. 

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Techniques

CBT is a goal-oriented therapy. If you struggle with alcohol use disorder, you and your therapist will work together to set and achieve specific goals for your recovery. There are several techniques used in CBT. 

Successive approximation

The process of gradually approaching the desired goal. This process can help people change thoughts and behaviors, especially those that trigger alcohol use. 

Cognitive Restructuring

Cognitive restructuring is a process of learning to identify and challenge negative thoughts and replace them with more realistic and positive ones. People can learn how to better understand and manage their thoughts and emotions through cognitive restructuring.


This technique involves identifying and exploring the options available for dealing with your drinking problem. You will look past experiences when you would consume alcohol. Then you and your therapist will brainstorm possible solutions for averting triggers and the pros and cons of new behavioral responses to various options.

Behavioral Assignments

These assignments help people identify and change the thoughts and behaviors contributing to their drinking. Behavioral assignments may include keeping a drinking diary, attending self-help groups, and practicing coping skills. These assignments help people to become more aware of their drinking patterns and the situations that trigger their drinking. They also help people to develop new skills for dealing with difficult situations.

Stress reduction and relaxation techniques

You might be shown many progressive stress-reduction methods like deep breathing exercises, mental imagery, and muscle relaxation. You will also get actionable knowledge and skills for stress reduction and improving your sense of control in particularly triggering or difficult situations. 

Combining CBT with Other Therapeutic Options

Cognitive behavioral therapy works well alongside other treatments such as support groups, medication-assisted therapies, and complementary medicine. CBT is successful for most people when used in conjunction with these modalities in their treatment plan. 

While in CBT treatment, patients learn the following and more:

  • How to excuse themselves from a situation where others may be consuming alcohol 
  • Set time aside for participation doing non-alcohol indulgent behavior
  • Identify internal and external triggers that stir up emotions or bring on compulsive behaviors or cravings
  • Coping strategies for an expansive range of substance abuse issues
  • Relapse prevention techniques and complete comprehension of what a relapse entails


If you or your loved one is ready to take their life back from alcohol use disorder and live on your terms, it's time to discover Wish Rehab. Our luxurious inpatient rehab facility for alcohol detox has a staff of skillful experts who treat alcohol problems with holistic treatment approaches. Patients can explore CBT and other types of talk therapy or modalities like dialectical behavioral therapy, hypnotherapy, experiential therapy, and more. Our approach to recovery is personalized, holistic care. So, contact us today for a confidential consultation at 844-222-8808.

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