Metacognition in addictive behaviors

Addict Behav. 2015 May;44:9-15. doi: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2014.08.002. Epub 2014 Aug 23.


Background: Over the last twenty years metacognitive theory has provided a novel framework, in the form of the Self-Regulatory Executive Function (S-REF) model, for conceptualizing psychological distress (Wells & Matthews, 1994, 1996). The S-REF model proposes that psychological distress persists because of unhelpful coping styles (e.g. extended thinking and thought suppression) which are activated and maintained as a result of metacognitive beliefs.

Objective: This paper describes the S-REF model and its application to addictive behaviors using a triphasic metacognitive formulation.

Discussion: Evidence on the components of the triphasic metacognitive formulation is reviewed and the clinical implications for applying metacognitive therapy to addictive behaviors outlined.

Keywords: Addictive behaviors; Cognitive-attentional syndrome; Metacognition; Metacognitive beliefs; Metacognitive therapy; Self-Regulatory Executive Function model.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Behavior, Addictive / psychology*
  • Cognition*
  • Executive Function
  • Humans
  • Models, Psychological