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An individual’s thoughts strongly influence their emotions and behaviors. If a person has negative or irrational thought patterns, for example, they might develop behavioral or emotional problems in response. One such problem might be turning to unhealthy coping mechanisms like drugs or alcohol after a triggering situation or event.

Individuals struggling with substance abuse or addiction can learn to approach situations and issues logically and with better emotional regulation. In turn, they can re-think and analyze the behaviors and mindset underlying their destructive lifestyle.

Assessing and identifying negative thoughts and replacing them with a healthier mindset is known as rational emotive therapy or REBT.

REBT gives a person tools to push a reset button on their perspective. This is critical because it helps avoid the thought patterns that may trigger emotional and behavioral issues, including addiction.


What is REBT?

When Albert Ellis introduced REBT in 1955, it was a significant change in how therapy was practiced over the years. He saw a gap in the standard treatments.

Psychoanalysis focused on the unconscious mind. Behaviorism centered on the client’s behavior vs. inner experience. Ellis believed thoughts and how individuals think are vital for understanding and treating emotional and behavioral problems. Since its introduction, REBT therapy has become a leading psychological treatment approach. Today, there is a robust body of evidence that REBT is effective at treating addiction.

REBT treats drug and alcohol dependency by reversing negative, irrational thoughts and emotions that lead to addictive behaviors. REBT works to help individuals unlearn conditioned habits, including using drugs and alcohol.

REBT treats drug and alcohol dependency by reversing negative, irrational thoughts and emotions that lead to addictive behaviors. REBT believes we can unlearn conditioned habits, including using drugs and alcohol.


REBT Focuses on the Present

While the past can have a considerable impact on someone’s life, REBT works to allow those struggling to move on from their past history. REBT can help pave a healthier path forward.


REBT Challenges Irrational Beliefs

REBT questions irrational and dysfunctional beliefs and replaces those with functional, productive views. This reframes thought patterns and can encourage more rational, healthy choices.


REBT Resets Unhealthy Thoughts

REBT helps people combatting drug and alcohol addiction, focusing on learning ways to be less reactive to irrational thoughts. REBT also teaches individuals to be mindful of the difference between what can and can’t be controlled in life. This therapy empowers patients to control and modulate their reactions to situations and events instead of falling back on irrational thought patterns.


The ABCDE Model of Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy

The ABC model explains how beliefs about an event cause an emotional response. It’s not the event itself that causes the reaction.

A – Activating event: An event happens that triggers a negative response. For example, a person’s boss doesn’t respond to their email requesting time off.

B – Beliefs: An individual holds certain beliefs or illogical thoughts about that event. The person believes they’re in trouble with their boss for their email.

C – Consequence: Because of the individual’s beliefs, he or she has an emotional response. The person experiences distress in the form of feelings of worthlessness, anxiety, or panic.


REBT looks at how changing B (beliefs) results in a different C (emotional response or consequence). D and E are how REBT challenges irrational thoughts and replaces those with productive ones to result in a healthy emotional response.

D – Dispute: An individual questions and argues against the irrational belief that is causing problems. The individual might brainstorm a series of reasonable possibilities like the boss is busy or is taking her time with a reply.

E – Effect: The individual successfully counters the irrational belief and realizes a new, healthy consequence. The person in this example might cope with their irrational beliefs by taking the time to write down their feelings, go for a walk to relax, and then send a follow-up email at the end of the day.