Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a form of cognitive behavioral treatment that is focused on helping patients develop and learn new skills to effectively deal with painful memories and emotions. While it was initially developed to help people suffering from borderline personality disorders (BPD), DBT has also been found to be very effective in treating people with other issues, including substance use disorder.

How Can DBT Help Deal With Substance Use Disorder?

The skills that patients learn throughout DBT sessions may be able to help those battling addiction to make improvements on their ability to appropriately manage their emotions, handle stressful situations, properly communicate with others, and be emotionally present.

Created by Dr. Marsha Linehan in the late 1980s, DBT is a cognitive-behavioral treatment that is based on "dialectics." During DBT sessions, the therapist helps the patient discover better ways to hold two opposite ideas at one time and eliminating a one-or-the-other type of thinking pattern. This premise of change and acceptance is the fundamental basis of DBT.

Those who misuse drugs or alcohol tend to experience highly negative emotions and feelings and reach for drugs or alcohol to help to mask such painful and uncomfortable sensations. Such emotions are more often felt when dealing with other people, be they friends, family members, or spouses. They can also be very tough to deal with on your own without effective treatment for addiction and mental illness.

When developing DBT for addiction treatment, Dr. Linehan found that traditional cognitive behavioral therapy sometimes was not entirely effective. Rather than simply trying to change these negative behaviors – which is what CBT is focused on – Dr. Linehan sought to incorporate acceptance of several components at once.

Balanced rocks

DBT can help those with substance use disorder balance forces that may be opposing, which can play an important role in dealing with addiction.

This notion is associated with validation that helps you balance the need to make a change with acceptance. Dialectics helps to uncover the reasons why you act out in negative ways rather than trying to encourage negative behaviors.

More specifically, dialectics is based on the premise that change is inevitable and constant, and that everything in life is connected. Further, it focuses on the idea that it is possible that to find some level of balance between two opposite forces, no matter how far apart they may be on the spectrum.

People with both mental health issues and substance use disorder develop negative behaviors as a means of coping with a tough situation or trying to solve a problem. Despite these behaviors temporarily helping to deal with specific situations, they can end up being ineffective or even destructive over the long run.

Although you may be trying your best to deal with stressful situations the best way you know how, you can still develop and establish appropriate behaviors and tactics that can help put out the fire in any type of situation, no matter what the context may be. DBT helps you learn the necessary skills needed to properly and effectively resolve situations that happen every day.

Incorporating DBT in Addiction Treatment

There are several ways to treat addiction, and DBT may be one of them. Depending on your specific situation and whether or not you may also be suffering from a mental health disorder, DBT may be an effective component of an overall addiction treatment program.

If you are curious about DBT or any other type of treatment available to those with substance use disorder, the representatives at The Recovery Village can help. Contact us to talk to someone who can help guide you to the right type of care.

What Is DBT and How Is It Used for Addiction Treatment?
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