Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for substance use disorders has shown efficacy as a monotherapy and as part of combination treatment strategies. This article provides a review of the evidence supporting the use of CBT, clinical elements of its application, novel treatment strategies for improving treatment response, and dissemination efforts. Although CBT for substance abuse is characterized by heterogeneous treatment elements such as operant learning strategies, cognitive and motivational elements, and skills-building interventions, across protocols several core elements emerge that focus on overcoming the powerfully reinforcing effects of psychoactive substances. These elements, and support for their efficacy, are discussed.
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