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Dialectical Behavior Therapy

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When you begin undergoing addiction treatment, the numerous methods and practices that are used can be puzzling to figure out. If you’re suffering from an addiction, dialectical behavior therapy, or DBT, can be highly effective. To learn more about our dialectical behavior therapy program, please contact Vertava Health today at 844.470.0410.

What Is DBT?

a woman speaks to a man about a dialectical behavior therapy programDialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is a dynamic therapy for addiction treatment. Therapy sessions help a person overcome negative, substance-abusing behaviors and negative emotions. In their place, treatment providers help participants create positive behaviors that build a strong foundation for recovery success. Learning healthy ways to cope with stress or other hardships is essential in successful long-term recovery.

Self-destructive behaviors and dysfunctional emotions frequently fuel addiction. The physical, mental, and emotional instability caused by chronic drug or alcohol use can aggravate these patterns even more. This damage can deplete a person’s health, destroy relationships and undermine a person’s career.

Even when faced with this knowledge, it can be hard to change. Further, many people struggle to accept their situations, which can also be a stumbling block to recovery.

Dialectical behavior therapy encourages a balance between change and acceptance to empower a person to take steps towards a drug-free life. As therapy progresses, a person learns how to control urges or cravings, manage unhealthy emotions, develop relapse prevention skills, and set positive and affirming goals. Together, these changes nourish sobriety and create better mind-body-spirit balance.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy in Addiction Treatment

Dr. Marsha M. Linehan originally developed dialectical behavioral therapy to treat borderline personality disorder. It was first introduced to prevent people with borderline personality disorder (BPD) from harming themselves. Since then, DBT is now recognized as an effective therapy for treating various mental health issues, including addiction.

It has since been adapted to treat substance use disorders and other forms of mental illness. Within addiction treatment programs, DBT is beneficial because it promotes acceptance and change, is realistic about abstinence, and motivates engagement in and completion of treatment. This dual application makes it an excellent choice for dual diagnosis treatment programs.

Therapy may be offered in an outpatient or inpatient setting. However, inpatient drug rehab typically offers more intensive therapies and healing opportunities than outpatient care. For DBT to be successful, the therapist and client must form a collaborative partnership. While this may be hard at first, DBT treatment methods help clients develop this critical relationship. As soon as treatment begins, DBT encourages complete abstinence. For a person newly in recovery, this can be a very intimidating prospect. Because of this, DBT breaks down long-term sobriety into smaller, more easily obtained goals. 

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  • As treatment progresses, DBT targets several behaviors that improve a person’s chance of recovery:
  • Reducing or alleviating withdrawal symptoms
  • Reducing cravings and temptations for relapse
  • Removing social and environmental triggers for drug use, such as people, places, or events
  • Overcoming behaviors or thoughts that encourage drug use
  • Reinforcing healthy relationships, behaviors, and environments that support sobriety

The main goal of DBT is to help a person develop a clear mind. In this state, a person remains focused on their recovery goals while also being aware of potential threats to their sobriety. With a clear mind, being mindful helps a person avoid relapse triggers and cope with them should they arise.

How Does Dialectical Behavior Therapy Improve Your Life?

Dialectical behavior therapy focuses on improving four major areas of a person’s life:

  • Emotion regulation skills: Negative and dysfunctional emotions can be triggers for substance use. If a person cannot handle their emotions in a healthy way, they may be tempted to self-medicate with drugs or alcohol and relapse. Therapy sessions teach a person to regulate and relate to their emotions more productively.
  • Mindfulness skills: Mindfulness teaches a person to be more aware and present in the moment instead of getting overwhelmed by thoughts and feelings that focus on the past and future. By paying better attention to these things, a person can better create a more calm and balanced state of mind. This can also help to reduce stress, a trigger for relapse.
  • Interpersonal effectiveness: Relationships can become strained under the weight of addiction. Families, friendships, and work relationships often suffer as a person makes finding and using drugs a priority above almost everything else. Interpersonal effectiveness teaches a person how to improve their communication and relationship skills.
  • Distress tolerance skills: These sessions work to remove or reduce any self-sabotaging behaviors in a person’s life. Under the therapist’s guidance, a person will develop tools that can help them overcome crisis situations. They will also learn how to handle distress better. One way of doing this is by practicing radical acceptance. Radical acceptance encourages people to accept the present moment instead of resisting it or exhausting themselves by fighting to change it.

Benefits of DBT in Addiction Treatment

DBT is beneficial in addiction treatment because it addresses harmful behaviors that act as barriers to improving people’s lives. Within addiction treatment programs, DBT focuses on substance use and how it affects the quality of life while also promoting target behaviors essential for overcoming addiction.

These behavioral targets include:

  • Alleviating physical discomfort associated with withdrawal
  • Avoiding triggers and cues related to substance use
  • Community reinforcement of positive behaviors
  • Decreasing substance use
  • Reducing behaviors conducive to drug use, like momentarily giving up the goal to stop using drugs or alcohol, and instead functioning as if drug use can’t be avoided
  • Reducing cravings and urges to use substances

Within addiction treatment programs, DBT is beneficial because of its unique approach to mental health and wellness, like promoting acceptance and change.

Seek Support at Vertava Health

At Vertava Health, our dialectical behavior therapy program can help you enter long-term recovery. Contact us at 844.470.0410 today for more information on dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) and addiction treatment.