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The Role of Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy in Addiction Recovery

Behavior Therapy

Addiction, also known as substance use disorder (SUD), is a chronic brain disease, and is listed as such in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5). Substance use disorder is defined as a “complex condition in which there is uncontrolled use of substance despite harmful consequence.” Individuals that struggle with addiction will prioritize satisfying drug cravings above all else. This can lead to detrimental consequences, affecting all areas of one’s life. The development of substance use disorder does not occur immediately, nor will recovering from addiction be achieved instantaneously. Further, there is no universal treatment method that proves most effective when it comes to the recovery process from substance use disorder. Every person is unique and will respond distinctly to the array of treatment methods available. For this reason, it is common practice to provide a customized treatment plan that considers an individual’s distinct circumstances and is tailored to address his or her nuanced needs. There are many different types of treatment options and therapeutic modalities that can be incorporated into one’s treatment plan.  

Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy

Rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT) is an action-oriented type of cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) that was created by Dr. Albert Ellis in 1955. REBT is a practical approach that aims to help people learn to effectively regulate their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors through managing cognitive, emotional, and behavioral disturbances. Rational emotive behavior therapy is grounded in the notion that rational thinking comes from within, and that positive and negative feelings do not manifest because of external stimuli, but rather are derived from one’s internal thoughts. REBT believes that emotional dysregulation, which is a term used within the mental health field to denote unreasonable, poorly modulated emotional responses, is a result of irrational belief systems.

The REBT framework focuses on the present moment and current areas of dysfunction to uncover faulty beliefs that may be contributing to one’s substance use and subsequently replace them with rational thinking habits that promote positivity and align with one’s recovery goals. The core of REBT is that thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are interconnected; they can negatively impact one another and lead to dysfunction in many areas of life or they can work together in healthy ways to enhance one’s quality of life. REBT plays a valuable role in addiction recovery as it assists individuals in coping with and overcoming adversity as well as achieving goals, which can directly inform treatment outcome. 

For Information and Support 

Substance abuse and addiction can be incredibly dangerous and can result in severe short and long-term consequences. If you or someone you know is suffering from substance abuse or addiction, please get help as soon as possible. The earlier you seek support, the sooner you and your loved ones can return to leading happy, healthy, and fulfilling lives. There is no reason to go through this alone, and we are here to help. Please feel free to reach out to us for further information or with any questions regarding substance abuse or addiction. We are available anytime via telephone at: 213-389-9964, or you can always email us at:

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