Dialectical Behavioral Therapy.

Dialectical behavioral therapy, or DBT, is a method of therapy that was first developed to help individuals diagnosed with severe or several mental disorders. Since a vast majority of individuals diagnosed with substance use disorder have concurring mental health issues, DBT is an essential tool in dual diagnosis techniques. But, what is dialectical behavioral therapy as it applies to drug addiction and alcoholism and can it help you or a loved one during time spent in treatment?


Dialectical Behavioral Therapy for Addiction.

DBT is meant to help individuals struggling with multiple mental health issues. When individuals are struggling with the effects of mental health issues, they are at a higher risk of using drugs or alcohol to ease symptoms. Often, these individuals eventually become dependent on substances to manage negative symptoms of their mental health conditions. And, develop unhealthy thought patterns that can result in self-harming behaviors.

The idea of DBT is that thought patterns, and self-harming behaviors are learned. And, that these negative thoughts and behaviors can be a result of underlying conditions which can be confronted and maintained. DBT can help individuals in treatment for addiction who are also struggling with the effects of:

  • Chronic depression
  • Generalized anxiety
  • Bipolar disorders
  • PTSD
  • Eating disorders
  • Suicidal thoughts or actions
  • Anger and other negative emotions

DBT VS. CBT for Addiction.

Essentially, DBT is a kind of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). This means it incorporates methods of identifying thought patterns that result in self-harming behaviors. All in all, DBT is often utilized in addition to CBT sessions to further address specific thought patterns and fine-tune behaviors as they relate to psychological disorders. While CBT can be effective in helping mostly all individuals in treatment, DBT can work to address specifics in thought patterns and behaviors as they relate to psychological conditions. Also, DBT utilizes a four-module method for therapy that includes:

Interpersonal Effectiveness: During active addiction, individuals may develop unhealthy relationship boundaries and expectations. DBT works to establish a healthy balance in relationships by building and practicing certain social skills.

Distress Tolerance/Acceptance: Experiencing specific situations during addiction recovery can be a trigger for relapse. Distress tolerance is the building of coping skills in the event of these negative situations.

Emotion Management: Many individuals dealing with negative emotions as a result of psychological conditions may self-medicate with drugs and alcohol. So, these negative emotions may be a trigger to relapse once treatment concludes. Learning skills to manage emotions is imperative for these individuals.

Mindfulness: Worrying about the past or future can be debilitating to a person’s recovery success. Mindfulness is the ability to remain in the present moment. This allows an individual to work on acceptance and continuously remain dedicated to sobriety efforts.

Establishing Positive Change with DBT.

In conclusion, DBT is a helpful tool to establish healthy change for individuals struggling with both mental health and substance abuse disorders. Without establishing healthy thought patterns, individuals will continue to maintain a self-harming lifestyle. But, with the help of therapies like DBT and CBT that work to establish new thought patterns, beliefs, and behaviors, individuals can have the healing and education they need to establish true and lasting recovery. Do you think you or a loved one may benefit from DBT during treatment? Contact Mountainview Recovery today to speak with an addiction specialist about how treatment infused with DBT sessions may be the help you need.