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How Can Dialectical Behavior Therapy Help With Addiction?

dialectical behavior therapy helps a man overcome addiction

Addiction recovery is different for everybody who goes through it. Some people require medication to ensure a safe and quick recovery. For some, specific types of therapies work better than others. One therapy proven highly beneficial for those struggling with addiction is dialectical behavior therapy (DBT). If you have questions about DBT or our other therapy options, contact one of Northpoint Seattle’s medical professionals today at 888.483.6031 or online to have them answered.

What Is Dialectical Behavior Therapy?

Before discovering how DBT can help with addiction, you may first want to know what exactly it is and how it works.

DBT is an evidence-based form of psychotherapy often used to treat patients with multiple mental health conditions. DBT was designed based on the already-established cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and was initially used to treat patients with chronic suicidal ideation and other intense mental illnesses. The main difference between CBT and DBT is that DBT encourages validating and accepting uncomfortable thoughts rather than finding ways to work around them or ignore them. Now, both individual and group treatments use DBT for several conditions, such as:

  • Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Substance use disorder (SUD)

DBT consists of four key components:

  • Individual therapy – Through weekly one-on-one sessions, patients learn to apply the skills they’ve learned through DBT and addiction treatment to real-life situations. Counselors encourage the continued practice of these newly discovered skills outside of therapy through homework assignments.
  • Group skills training – Patients can actively practice new healthy coping skills during group skills sessions.
  • Phone coaching – When a difficult situation arises between sessions, patients can contact their therapist for help when they need it most.
  • Consultation team for therapists – Consultation teams are available for therapists to feel supported and validated. If a therapist has a difficult time with one patient, their consultation team can help them.

DBT can be highly effective in treating addiction.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy and Addiction Treatment

The DBT approach relies mainly on learning coping skills to change negative thoughts and behaviors. When being treated with DBT, your therapist will teach you critical behavioral skills through modeling, providing instructions, telling anecdotes, practicing skills, giving feedback, and general coaching. There are many techniques and strategies utilized in DBT, such as:

  • Mindfulness – All of the other skills in DBT revolve around mindfulness. Patients learn to bring awareness into the moment and what exactly that means. By being able to master observation of their feelings, thoughts, senses, and impulses, patients can take a moment to slow down and focus on healthy coping skills during their more painful moments.
  • Interpersonal effectiveness – Many patients struggling with addiction also experience challenges within their relationships. Interpersonal effectiveness works by repairing, maintaining, and establishing healthy relationship behaviors. This practice helps patients learn assertiveness and enforce their boundaries by communicating effectively.
  • Emotional regulation – This technique focuses on identifying, naming, and changing the adverse effects of an emotional response. Your therapist will help you have more positive emotional experiences by helping you recognize and cope with intense negative emotions and create an opposite action.
  • Distress tolerance – This is one of the unique aspects of DBT and addiction treatment. It helps to teach patients to accept discomfort and negative emotions as part of the human experience. Many patients struggling with addiction often experience distress or crises. By implementing learned techniques such as healthy distractions and self-soothing skills, patients feel empowered to cope with intense emotions with more favorable long-term outlooks.

How could DBT improve your chances for a successful recovery?

How Can Dialectical Behavior Therapy Help with Addiction?

When applied to addiction treatment, dialectical behavior therapy can help individuals better understand their own thoughts and feelings, as well as those of other people. It can also provide individuals with the skills needed to cope with cravings and triggers in healthier ways than before. Through DBT, individuals learn how to create a lifestyle that is better suited for recovery rather than relapse.

One valuable tool used in DBT is the “dialectical abstention commitment.” This technique helps individuals abstain from drugs or alcohol in situations when it would be easy to use them. By committing to abstention, an individual can develop a better understanding of their addiction and how to manage it more effectively.

DBT also emphasizes the importance of self-acceptance and recognizing that change is both inevitable and necessary for long-term recovery. This is done by using mindfulness practices to help individuals become more aware of their thoughts and feelings and learn how to deal with them in healthier ways.

In addition, DBT teaches problem-solving skills that can be used when faced with difficult situations or cravings. These techniques can help individuals make better decisions and create a better lifestyle for long-term recovery.

Learn More About DBT and Addiction Treatment at Northpoint Seattle

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, you know what it can do to a person’s self-esteem. Northpoint Recovery in Seattle offers dialectical-behavior therapy for patients to learn the necessary coping skills to overcome their addiction. Reach out today to discuss our DBT treatment options. Call us at 888.483.6031 or contact us online.