Dialectical Behavior Therapy

Dialectical Behavior Therapy can instill confidence and stress management skills in recovering addicts with severe mood disorders.

Understanding Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a psychotherapy method developed by psychologist Marsha M. Linehan in the late 1980s. DBT was initially developed to treat patients with borderline personality disorder and suicidal thoughts. One of the core goals of DBT is to help patients build the confidence and coping abilities to effectively handle stressful situations.

Patients suffering from mental illness, such as those prone to intense emotional outbursts, are more likely to engage in substance abuse as a form of self-medication. Addiction treatment centers are increasingly utilizing DBT in their treatment programs.

DBT and Addiction Treatment

Dialectical Behavior Therapy helps recovering addicts learn several skills that are effective at helping addicted people stop using drugs and alcohol. DBT focuses on changing the recovering addict’s behavior and surroundings to make sobriety easier.

Common DBT strategies include:

  • Helping patients seek out environments and peer groups that discourage drug use.
  • Encouraging addicts to remove triggers such as drug paraphernalia or unhealthy relationships from their daily lives.
  • Bolstering self-esteem and confidence to help patients stay sober through stressful periods.

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DBT Therapies and Techniques

Dialectical Behavior Therapy generally includes four core components, including:

  • Skills Training – Group leaders teach communication and coping skills which patients can apply to their daily routines and interactions. Skills training classes last roughly two hours, meeting once per week for about 24 weeks.
  • Individual Therapy – Individual therapy helps recovering addicts learn to apply techniques learned during skills training classes in real-life situations.
    Individual therapy is held weekly for the entire DBT program. Therapy sessions are tailored to a recovering addict’s personality.
  • Phone Coaching – Recovering addicts can call their therapists when difficult situations occur outside of individual therapy or skills training classes. The therapist is able to coach the recovering addict to use emotional regulation and distress tolerance techniques to manage feelings and cope with stress.
  • Team Consultation – Team consultation focuses not on patients, but on therapists and other healthcare providers. Team consultation helps therapists to stay motivated to provide the best care possible for patients that can be difficult to treat.

In addition to these components, recovering addicts will also complete homework assignments such as journaling the behaviors or urges and emotions they experience throughout the day.

DBT is also effective when combined with other behavioral, motivational therapies, including:

Support groups like Narcotics Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous can also help those in recovery integrate into new, drug-free peer groups upon exiting treatment.

Find Complete Treatment for Drug or Alcohol Addiction

Beating drug addiction requires medical expertise, but staying sober requires stress management skills. Addiction treatment centers offer therapy like DBT to support a healthy mind in recovery and prevent relapse. If you or someone you care about is struggling with an addiction, a treatment center specializing in DBT may be able to help you.