All About CBT for Addiction Problems, How it Works and What’s Involved


CBT for Addiction

CBT for Addiction is one of the most effective ways of overcoming the emotional distress caused by this condition.

An addiction is any behaviour that you perform over and over again which you believe you cannot stop using your own willpower, for example drinking alcohol or smoking cigrarettes.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy was developed by Aaron Beck in the 1960’s who recognised that people’s inner-thoughts were often more significant than the things that they said out loud during therapy sessions.

He called these inner-thoughts cognition and argued that the way that people think about their experiences links directly to the emotions that they feel.

In other words our emotional experiences are the outcomes of what we think and believe rather than being caused by external events.

These ideas form the central concept of CBT which states that:

The way people think determines the way that they feel.

In the case of Addiction the emotions that we feel are the direct result of what we think or believe our experiences mean.

Common symptoms of addiction

Symptoms & Behaviours linked to Addictions

The symptoms of addiction can vary depending on the substance or behaviour involved, but some common signs and symptoms of addiction include:

  • Compulsion: The strong urge to use a substance or engage in a behaviour despite negative consequences.
  • Loss of control: The inability to limit the use of a substance or behaviour.
  • Diminishing Tolerance: Needing increasing amounts of the substance or behaviour to achieve the desired effect.
  • Withdrawal: Physical or emotional symptoms that occur when the substance or behaviour is discontinued.
  • Continued use despite negative consequences: Using the substance or engaging in the behaviour despite experiencing negative consequences in areas such as relationships, work, or health.
  • Neglecting responsibilities: Failing to fulfill obligations at work, school, or home.
  • Changes in behaviour: Changes in mood, appetite, sleep, or energy level.
  • Secrecy and isolation: Hiding the extent of substance use or behaviour from others and withdrawing from social activities.
  • Financial problems: Spending money on the substance or behaviour despite financial difficulties.

Addiction is a complex problem and so you may have all or only some of these symptoms or behaviours.

Drug Addiction Woman on Sofa

How does CBT for Addiction work?

Normally a programme of CBT for Addiction takes place over a period of 10 to 20 weeks with an hour long session once per week.

Firstly, because the way you think about your day-to-day experiences is determined by your core beliefs, the early sessions of CBT for Addiction involve exploring and measuring these beliefs.

Secondly, once you are able to uncover your core beliefs, your thoughts about certain experiences will make more sense.

Thirdly, by understanding how you have made sense of your experiences in the past you can then begin to make changes to your thoughts and beliefs in order to create new, and more useful, emotional outcomes.

CBT for Addiction builds upon the 5 core CBT principles developed by Aaron Beck and are used extensively in our CORE Programme.

CORE CBT for addiction programme on Mac

How many sessions of CBT will I need?

Whilst this is a difficult question to be precise about, most people will be able to overcome their Addiction problems in around 10 – 20 sessions.

However, because CBT for Addiction is always tailored to your own individual needs and circumstances, getting the outcome that you want may sometimes require more sessions.

If you have been suffering Addiction problems for many years then in all likelihood, you can reasonably expect to take a bit longer to get where you want to be.

Our CBT for Addiction programme is based on 12 sessions delivered over approximately 12 weeks and uses an online learning platform for you to develop greater self-awareness and knowledge in the days between sessions.

The behaviour change framework

The Behaviour Change Framework

All of our counselling sessions and programmes for addiction use the Behaviour Change Framework (BCF).

This scientifically proven protocol defines the stages of behaviour change that you need to go through in order to achieve long lasting and sustainable change.

The framework provides a roadmap that indicates if more change is required before entering the next phase of mental health therapy.

In this way, we are able to ensure that you get the best possible level of support in overcoming your mental health problems as well preventing early termination of therapy.

You can read more about the Science of Change here.

Free initial consultations for cbt for addiction problems

Arrange your FREE initial consultation here.

If you’d like to find out more about CBT for Addiction or recovering from any of your mental health problems then why not arrange a free initial consultation with us.

During this consultation we will discuss your particular issues and the different types of mental health counselling we offer without you having to commit to any counselling going forward.

The consultation lasts around 50 minutes and is a great opportunity to meet with either Paul or Joan and decide if you would like to proceed with any support.

Paul Lee BSc. MSc. Psych.

Psychologist Paul Lee in Clinic

You can contact Paul by e-mail on:

Tel: 07434 776125

Not Ready to Commit to Therapy Quite Yet?

Then why not see if you can solve your addiction problems using our comprehensive, Online Self-Help CBT course.


Written especially for people who prefer not to engage with a therapist before doing everything they can to overcome their problems.

Mirroring our in-house course of CBT, it contains everything that you need to know to tackle mental health challenges for only £149.

Counselling Locations

We offer cbt for addiction problems for people living in:

  • Wombourne
  • Wolverhampton
  • West Midlands
  • Shropshire
  • South Staffordshire
  • Telford
  • Shrewsbury

You can also access our services around the World using online therapy with Paul.