A person dealing with addiction issues often receives the message to quit using. How to actually quit is the tricky part. It’s about doing things differently, living life differently. This is where getting into some kind of recovery program that has behavioral therapies as one of its components can improve the chance of success. Behavior therapy does not require a change in thoughts or feelings in order to implement a different way of doing things. Without going too deep in the beginning, you can build a set of behaviors that are more effective responses to whatever behaviors the addict in your life may indulge in. As you become more comfortable (or at least used to and practiced at) these new behaviors, you can explore the thoughts and emotions you have when the addict does what he/she does.

What Are Behavioral Therapies?

Cognitive-behavioral therapy does not exist as a distinct therapeutic technique, although much literature persists in referring to CBT as a specific therapy. The term “cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)” is a very general term for a group of therapies with similarities. There are several approaches to cognitive-behavioral therapy. Some of the more well-known forms of CBT and their developers are:
  • Cognitive Therapy [Aaron Beck, M.D.]
  • Dialectic Behavior Therapy (DBT) [Marsha Linehan, PhD.]
  • Exposure Therapy [O. Hobart Mowrer, PhD.]
  • Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) [Albert Ellis, M.D.]
  • Rational Behavior Therapy [Maxie C. Maultsby, M.D.]
  • Rational Living [Aldo Pucci, PsyD.]
  • Reality Therapy [William Glasser, M.D.]
Other behavioral therapies include:
  • Skills Training Therapy
  • Motivational Interviewing
  • Matrix Model Therapy
There are three general ways to organize and implement behavior therapy:


This is one-on-one sessions with a counselor or therapist. A therapist’s code of ethics require keeping virtually everything confidential. That makes individual therapy the safest way to delve into whatever issues are on your mind. There is only you and your therapist in a session. You and your therapist can work as a team to put new behaviors into place. Another advantage to individual therapy is you are able to address whatever thoughts and feelings that may come up once you start practicing the new behaviors.


This kind of behavioral therapy focuses on ways to more effectively interact with other family members, especially as it relates to the addict in your life. A therapist can act as a referee between family members who need a little extra help accepting or implementing a new way of acting. Family behavior therapy provides a safe, confidential way to look at how individuals and smaller groups within the family deal with not only the addict, but each other, as well.


Participating in this type of behavior therapy provides a way to get feedback about various actions from others who have the same sorts of backgrounds. A group helps individuals become more authentic (critical to be able to do when dealing with an addict). It helps people stay in the here-and-now when addressing issues relating to the addict.
  1. Kathleen M. Carroll, Ph.D. and Lisa S. Onken, Ph.D., Behavioral Therapies for Drug Abuse, Pub Med Central, 2013 Apr 23. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3633201/