Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), adapted from a similar treatment modality known as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), is one of the most effective techniques for addressing substance abuse and addiction. Originally used to treat borderline personality disorder, addiction treatment professionals have embraced the benefits of dialectical behavior therapy for substance abuse since the 1980s. Let’s take an in-depth look at DBT and how it can be beneficial for someone that is suffering from substance abuse and addiction.
DBT is an outcropping of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). In fact, in the 1980s, a psychologist recognized that an adjustment to CBT would better serve clients with a mental health disorder. Rather than tossing out the entire treatment model, dialectical behavioral therapy allows for updates to its protocol. Today, therapists rely on both forms of psychotherapy as appropriate for working with people struggling to overcome substance abuse.
Consider that two people might react differently to an emotionally charged situation. In CBT, a therapist would ask you to evaluate the patterns of your thoughts, feelings, and actions. When you see room for improvement, you work with the professional on making the changes. In DBT, however, you acknowledge that you might be reacting more strongly to the situation than someone else would.
Rather than merely evaluating patterns, you learn how to cope with the strong feelings you have. When you’re able to control your emotional response, it’s more likely for you to recognize patterns in need of change. In addition, you learn why you react the way you do. Clinicians refer to the treatment model as one that actively pursues change while encouraging acceptance.
DBT’s basic premise is similar to CBT in that it changes faulty thinking, or at least one’s relationship to his or her thoughts, and leads to changes in behavior. Dr. Marsha Linehan was the first behavioral health expert to take CBT’s principles and add the concept of dialectics to the cognitive brew. As a result, the newly invented dialectical behavior therapy enabled practitioners and their clients to focus on behavioral change while still accepting themselves for who they are. The therapy works to change negative acts, thoughts, and feelings that can get in the way of progress.
When dealing with an addict, it can be difficult to have them undergo even the most basic of therapy. In most cases, they are in denial that they either have a problem or that their problem is affecting those around them. If someone doesn’t think that there is anything wrong with them, they aren’t likely to just willingly go to therapy. While therapy is ultimately an excellent way to get them to open up and change their actions, attitude, and even the way they think, oftentimes it can lead to the person either getting combative or shutting the therapist out. DBT was created specifically for these types of patients.
DBT utilizes three mechanisms to assist clients in synthesizing their conflicting issues with changing certain behaviors and with the acceptance of reality.
Dialectical behavior therapy consists of four main components. They include:
Dialectical behavior therapy for substance abuse uses several approaches to address the challenges of addiction. These include:
Specifically, substance abuse crowds your life. It shuts down relationships and pursuits of goals and dreams. In its wake, it leaves loneliness, pain, and disappointments over missed opportunities. However, when you decide that it’s time to quit using, rehab offers you the help you need to enter recovery.
Nonetheless, getting well doesn’t mean that you get everything back you lost. For example, relationships may not heal the way you want them to. There will be new challenges as you rebuild your life. Therapists understand this process and use dialectical behavioral therapy to prepare you for the road ahead. During counseling sessions, you learn to embrace where you’re at right now. Moreover, you learn to look at the positives even as it appears the negatives outweigh them.
During the treatment, you set goals for sobriety and life beyond the rehab facility. Next, you break down the steps you need to take to achieve the goals. Built into these processes is the ability to accept occasional setbacks and not see them as a final outcome. For this reason, you develop the ability to handle potential trigger situations in a positive way.
Of course, DBT is only one aspect of addiction therapy services. Furthermore, it can’t stand alone as the only form of treatment. Other modalities include:
When you combine these treatments, you can see how they all connect in one way or another. Regulating your emotions and learning to deal with distress is another significant step toward disarming trigger events. Over a short period, you learn how to handle life without reaching for a mind or mood-altering substance.
If you or someone you love is struggling under the heavy burden of substance abuse, dialectical behavior therapy for substance abuse has proven to be one of the most effective ways to turn your life around in a positive, long-lasting way.
Located in the beautiful mountains near Asheville, NC, Crest View Recovery Center is one of the premier substance abuse programs in the country. Because we know that every person is unique, we tailor your therapy to suit your own particular needs. We use DBT in numerous addiction therapy settings, including:
Our individual and group therapists will partner with you to explore the origins of your destructive behaviors, identify the thoughts that cement them into habits, and then work to change your responses to those thoughts in a positive, self-affirming way. At Crest View, our substance abuse treatment programs can help you overcome dependence on alcohol, heroin, meth or opioids. We understand the heavy toll that drug or alcohol dependency takes on your life, your relationships, your finances, and your future, and we’re committed to helping you redefine your life as a sober, healthy person.
Many centers make wild claims of success, but we have the alumni to prove how effective our addiction treatment strategies are. You’ll never be alone on your journey. Your success is our success.
Are you ready to live without the need for a chemical crutch? The friendly therapists at Crest View Recovery Center are here to help provide dialectical behavior therapy for substance abuse. Call (866) 327-2505 today and connect with an intake counselor to learn more about our addiction treatment programs.