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Dialectical Behavioral Therapy

DBT: Dialectical Behavioral Therapy for Addiction Treatment

DBT or Dialectical Behavioral Therapy is a type of cognitive behavioral therapy used in addiction treatment and emphasizing the psychosocial aspects of substance abuse. With a focus on helping addicts to cope with emotional and social issues stemming from and contributing to addiction, including triggers and negative emotional behavior and thought patterns, DBT is highly suitable for persons who are recovering from addiction as well as for those with deeper cooccurring problems relating to depression, anxiety, and trauma.

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DBT tackles addiction by helping users to build coping mechanisms for emotional and social problems, negative emotions, and stress, allowing many to cope in a much healthier way.

What is DBT and How Does It Work in Addiction Treatment?

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy approaches addiction and behavior from the idea that many people understand concepts through their opposites. Dialectics are concepts which are poorly defined on their own, but which can be defined by their opposite. For example, black and white, inhibition and wantonness, self-esteem or ego and the lack of it, courage and cowardice, and so on. Many of these concepts cannot be fully defined without using the opposite or lack of the concept to contrast it. This ties very well into the addiction mindset, where users often self-medicate or try to escape from problems and stress through substance use.

DBT works to help users understand and cope with the social and emotional reasons behind addiction. By approaching why patients respond in a certain way to emotions or actions gives them the tools to build new behaviors and reactions in response to those emotions.

How Does DBT Work?

DBT includes four components:

Individual Therapy – During individual therapy, therapists work in 60-minute sessions to interact with the patient, learn emotional responses, identify self-destructive behavior, and work to identify where responses come from and why.

Group – Group sessions typically include 2.5-hour classes, where groups with similar destructive behaviors work to learn coping mechanisms and correcting skills in a class environment. In most cases, Group is spread out over 24 weeks, with each skill broke into 4 or 6 sessions.

Coaching – Patients receive consistent support and coaching throughout the process, with meetings and interaction with other therapists.

Remote Coaching – Patients can call their therapist at any time to request coaching, discuss issues and emotional responses, and talk about cravings.

DBT also integrates other forms of treatment including mindfulness, distress tolerance, interpersonal effectiveness, and emotional regulation.

DBT for Addiction Treatment with Dual Diagnosis

Unlike many other forms of behavioral therapy, DBT is specifically designed to work for patients who have problems stemming from anxiety, depression, or other disorders. DBT therapists are trained to create a prioritization schedule for each patient, working to tackle the most pressing and dangerous problems first so that the patient can move into a safe place to recover. This typically means that life threatening behaviors (relapse and potential overdose, potential suicide, etc.) are tackled first. Afterwards, therapy-interference behaviors such as anger, aggression, depression, major anxiety, lack of motivation and other emotions which interfere with therapy are approached. From there, DBT shifts focus to improve quality of life and build skills which help the patient to overcome life problems and build a better life for themselves.

As a result, DBT is considered to be more effective than CBT when treating patients with cooccurring disorders such as anxiety and depression.

While DBT is a form of CBT, it is more focused on managing emotions and social behavior, making it highly suitable for treating users with anxiety, depression, and trauma. With a more-intense treatment schedule combining one-on-one therapy with group training and strong counseling, DBT offers more support, more follow-up, and more personalization and customization than most alternatives.

If you or a loved one is suffering from alcohol addiction, we can help. Lighthouse Treatment Center’s rehab in Orange County, California is a safe place to begin your journey to a new life. Call us today at (855) 934-1100 for a free consultation.