Can DBT Help with Substance Abuse?
Treatment for drug and alcohol addiction has come a long way over the last 50 years.
With so many individuals addicted to substances in the U.S. alone, addiction professionals have had their hands full. Fortunately, new ideas have been developed to try to help those addicted to drugs and alcohol. One of these treatment methods is Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). This treatment method was originally developed in the 1980s by a psychologist to help treat individuals with a mental condition called Borderline Personality Disorder.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy is a form of cognitive-behavioral therapy, which is used to change patterns of thinking or behavior that are behind the difficulties a person is experiencing and, in doing so, change the way they feel. DBT is support-oriented, cognitive-based, and collaborative. DBT treatment helps individuals gain an understanding of themselves while building confidence. Clients also begin learning how to interact within social situations and relationships.
DBT, when used in addiction treatment, identifies the addiction problem as a symptom of emotion dysregulation.
Often people who abuse addictive substances are doing so to cope with intense feelings (emotions). DBT might be most beneficial to individuals who use drugs and alcohol in an attempt to manage their thoughts and emotions. In the use of DBT, the relationship between the client and their therapist is crucial. The therapist helps the individual address and ultimately find maximum recovery from their difficulty, which in this case is drug or alcohol addiction. This model of therapy often utilizes individual sessions as well as group sessions. DBT treatment is relatively intense work. DBT works by decreasing abuse of the substance, alleviating physical discomfort, diminishing cravings/urges, avoiding opportunities to cue abuse, reducing behaviors conducive to drug addiction, and increasing community reinforcement of healthy behaviors.
Can DBT help with substance abuse? In some cases, it most certainly can.
It is important to seek licensed, professional help when addressing a mental health condition and substance abuse issue. Recovery truly is possible, with the right treatment.
Dimeff, L. A., & Linehan, M. M. (2008). Dialectical Behavior Therapy for Substance Abusers. Addiction Science & Clinical Practice, 4(2), 39–47.
Psych Central. (2016). An Overview of Dialectical Behavior Therapy. Psych Central. Retrieved on January 13, 2017.