Addiction to an activity or substance often develops as a result of a need to temporarily feel good or escape emotional or physical pain. Addictions commonly take the form of alcohol or drug abuse, but addictions may also present in the form of gambling, shopping, internet use or sexual addiction.

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A study released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ National Study of Mental Health and Wellbeing in 2023 (5,500 people aged 16 to 85 years old during 2020-2021) showed that more than two in five Australians experience a mental health issue in their lifetime. In 2020–21 more than 3.4 million Australians sought help from a health care professional for their mental health.

The study is published at

We all have habit forming tendencies, but some people are more vulnerable to developing an addiction because of their family history, exposure to an environment of substance abuse or mental health issues.

Most people with an addiction require some form of treatment to help break their addictive behaviour. This is where therapy can help.

Types of addictions include:

Alcohol Addiction

Porn Addiction

Drug Addiction

Sex Addiction

Gambling Addiction

Internet Addiction

Shopping Addiction

Food Addiction

Video Game Addiction


All addictions over time can become problematic.

Symptoms of an addiction can include:

  • You are neglecting responsibilities at work or home
  • Your relationships are deteriorating as a result of the addictive behaviour
  • Attempts to cut down or stop the addiction have been unsuccessful

Substance Addictions

When dealing with substance addiction, additional signs can include:

  • You need increasing doses of the substance to achieve the same effect
  • You have an inability to cope with everyday life unless you take the substance
  • You feel unwell or moody without the substance (withdrawal) and feel normal when you resume use
  • You are organising events and appointments around the timing of use

Therapy | Treatment


Addictions often occur as a result of unresolved emotional problems. By not dealing with these emotional problems, addictions can often worsen over time, destroying your life and relationships.

During the therapy process, a psychologist will aim to uncover the cause of your addiction and discover the trigger points for addictive behaviour.

They will also take the relevant steps in helping you to control the addiction so it doesn’t control you. This includes breaking addictive patterns, learning coping strategies to manage day to day stresses and changing negative thinking patterns.


Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for addictions examines the way our behavior is connected with our cognition, so in terms of a substance abuse or addiction problem, a CBT therapist would look for the ways in which thoughts and beliefs influence their client’s addictive behavior. As addiction involves using a substance or taking other actions compulsively, often in spite of negative consequences, according to CBT addictive behaviors are the result of inaccurate thoughts and subsequent negative feelings.

While someone who is trying to overcome addictive behaviours will often say they want to change—and they may genuinely want to—they find it extremely difficult to do so.

CBT may help people change their substance usage habits. This is because CBT is focused on helping people learn how to identify and challenge the negative, irrational thought patterns that lead to substance use. CBT also teaches new coping skills to help people deal with stress, cravings, and relapses.

When used to treat addictions, CBT focuses on systematically recording thoughts, associated feelings, and the events that trigger those thoughts and feelings. Once we understand where the addictive behaviour comes from, we can begin to change the automatic processes that sabotage our efforts at changing our behaviors.

CBT helps people look at patterns of thoughts and feelings that they repeatedly experience. Over time, they can begin to change those thoughts by taking a more realistic point of view that does not automatically lead to negative emotions and resulting cycles of harmful behaviors.

By rewarding ourselves for healthier behaviours, over time, the healthier behaviours become associated with more positive emotions and become more automatic.


CBT may be used alone or together with medication. A doctor may prescribe various medications to someone with an addiction ranging from anxiety management medication, mood management medication and sometimes specific medications that function as aversive therapies, for example making alcohol very unpleasant to drink for people with an alcohol addiction.