Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) for drug addiction, is a therapeutic technique that has been around since the 1950s. It has been a big influence on the world of drug addiction treatment, influencing more modern therapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy, but it is still successfully used as a substance abuse treatment in its own right.

What is Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) For Drug Addiction Treatment?

Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy was developed by Dr. Albert Ellis back in 1957. The eminent doctor based his treatment on the philosophy of stoicism which focuses on the ability of every person to make a difference and the virtues of wisdom, courage, moderation, and justice.

A lot of people believe that REBT was the forerunner of CBT therapy, and there are undeniably a number of similarities between the two. That being said, they are definitely two very distinct therapies.


For instance, Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy for drug addiction treatment focuses on the beliefs people hold and how that can have a great deal of influence on their thoughts and feelings, not to mention their actions in life. This is distinct from CBT which focuses much more on challenging problematic thoughts and transforming negative thoughts and feelings into more positive ones.

REBT practitioners are strong believers that one’s own beliefs can have a significant impact on how one reacts to various situations due to the thoughts and feelings that are associated with certain types of beliefs.  

How does REBT work?

Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy consists of an ABC framework model that enables practitioners to get to the heart of their patients’ beliefs, helping them to reframe those irrational beliefs in a more positive light so that they might lead healthier lives.

The core concepts of the ABC framework in REBT are as follows:

A – The activating event: 

The A, in this case, stands for adversity or the activating event that leads to the patient feeling or behaving in a particular way. Activating events can lead to both healthy and unhealthy reactions.

B – Beliefs:

Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy is all about beliefs and what the patient can do to reframe those beliefs that are irrational. For example, a patient may believe that they cannot live without drugs. A REBT therapist will be able to help them explore that belief and point to various examples showing what is not the case.

C – Consequence: 

Within the REBT framework, consequences refer to the reaction, either behaviorally or emotionally, that the patient has following an activating event. This could include feelings of stress or anxiety or actions like misusing substances or getting violent.

REBT and drug addiction treatment

Behavioral therapies like REBT are most often used when treating substance issues. This is because it is often people’s thoughts and feelings that cause them to turn to drugs when they are struggling. By changing their thought processes and challenging the more problematic beliefs, therapies like REBT therapy can show them that there are better ways to deal with the challenges of life, helping them to get on the path to sobriety.

REBT can be delivered individually one-to-one to outpatients, in group therapy settings, and even in family therapy scenarios, and studies have shown that the therapy can be effective in terms of reducing behavioral and psychological problems that often drive people to abuse substances.

As well as being used to treat drug addictions, Rational and Emotive Behavior Therapy has also been found to help with a number of mental health conditions including obsessive-compulsive disorder and depression, which is why it may be a particularly good choice for people who have various mental health comorbidities alongside their substance misuse.

If you are looking to better understand your behaviors and why you misuse substances. If you want to challenge your unhealthy beliefs and embrace sobriety. If you want to be supported on your journey towards recovery, then embracing the rational Emotive Behavior Therapy technique could be one of the best things you ever do for yourself before, during, and after detoxification and recovery.

The Robert Alexander Center for Recovery in Kentucky

At The Robert Alexander Center for Recovery in Kentucky, our team of substance misuse experts are here to help you every step of the way on your path to recovery. If you would like to know more about Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) for drug addiction treatment or any of our other substance abuse support and recovery services, do not hesitate to get in touch with us today.

Download this article

Call Now Button