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Learn About Proven Treatments for Substance Use

Let's take a look at a proven treatment for alcohol and other drug use, called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Substance Use Disorders, or CBT-SUD.

What is CBT for Substance Use Disorders?

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Substance Use Disorders (CBT-SUD) is an evidence-based "talk therapy," or counseling treatment, proven effective in treating alcohol and other drug use. CBT-SUD helps people make and maintain changes in their substance use, better cope with cravings and urges, and improve skills related to alcohol and other drug use, including skills for managing mood, improving communication, and solving problems.

Watch this video to learn more about CBT for Substance Use Disorders treatment. And, explore the tabs at the bottom of this page to learn about the specific parts of treatment!


Many years of research have shown that CBT-SUD is an effective treatment for many people with substance use disorders.

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Overall, Veterans who participate in CBT-SUD report reduced alcohol and other drug use and improved quality of life.

Illustration of series of alcohol cans declining in size as substance use decline  followed by series of ascending blocks with woman ascending as improved quality of life

CBT-SUD is effective for treating problems related to substance use, like problems with feeling down or on edge, relating to others, and solving problems or making decisions.

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CBT-SUD is recommended by experts as a treatment option for many Veterans with substance use disorders.

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CBT-SUD is effective for people of many different backgrounds and for different types of substances.

What happens in Treatment

CBT-SUD helps people learn new skills so they can cope better with urges and cravings and make changes in their substance use. It also teaches proven skills for improving communication, better managing mood, and increasing social support.

Click on an item on below to learn about the different steps of CBT-SUD!

Manage Urges and Cravings

A key part of reducing substance use is learning how to deal with urges and cravings to use alcohol or other drugs. During treatment, you will learn to identify cues (people, places, situations) that increase your desire to use alcohol or other drugs. You will also develop a Coping Plan that includes effective strategies to manage urges and cravings you have.

Improve Communication Skills

Certain situations, settings, and people can make it hard to resist alcohol or other drugs. Treatment involves learning effective strategies for saying no and getting your needs met. It also involves learning listening skills for improving communication and relationships.

Learn to Better Manage Mood

Some people use substances to cope with difficult emotions. These emotions are often connected to negative thoughts and to spending little time doing things that bring joy or meaning. When this is the case, treatment includes learning proven skills for changing negative thoughts and spending more time doing things that make you feel good about life.

Improve Social Support

Having people you care about and can count on is important for feeling good and managing life challenges. For some people, treatment may involve learning skills to improve or increase relationships and support. You and your therapist may choose to invite someone close to you to join one or more sessions to discuss how they can best support you.


Let's look a bit closer at what CBT for Substance Use Disorders looks like.

  1. Learn about
    Proven Treatment You are here
  2. View the
    Treatment Process Up Close You are here
  3. Explore Your Goals You are here
  4. Find Treatment You are here

View the treatment process up close

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Questions or problems? Contact Rocky Mountain MIRECC.


Contact Information


Rocky Mountain Regional VAMC (RMR VAMC)
1700 N Wheeling St, BLDG A2
Aurora, CO 80045


VA Salt Lake City Health Care System
500 Foothill DR
Salt Lake City, UT 84148
801-582-1565 x2821