What is DBT Therapy?
DBT stands for dialectical behavioral therapy, and it is an intensive therapy for people who have high emotional responses that inhibit normal functions. DBT is a form of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), or psychotherapy, that teaches the individual to appreciate their emotions and feelings with acceptance. Originally, it was used for borderline personality disorder treatment (BPD) and developed by Dr. Marsha Linehan. It is now widely used by many therapists, counselors, and psychologists for different types of emotional and mental health disorders. It can be used for almost any condition, including eating disorders, drug addiction, and alcoholism treatment.
Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is a comprehensive mental health and substance abuse treatment program whose ultimate goal is to aid patients in their efforts to build a life worth living. When DBT is successful, the patient learns to envision, articulate, pursue, and sustain goals that are independent of his or her history of out-of-control behavior, including substance abuse, and is better able to grapple with life’s ordinary problems. DBT’s emphasis on building a life worth living is a broader therapeutic goal than the reduction in problem behaviors, symptom management, or palliative care .
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How is DBT Helpful in Drug & Alcohol Addiction Recovery?
DBT is helpful in various situations and has been used for many different mental health conditions, including eating disorders treatment, bipolar disorder treatment, anxiety treatment, depression treatment, PTSD treatment, and substance use disorders treatment.
While DBT has several similarities with CBT, dialectical behavioral therapy includes a level of optimism that is not found in traditional CBT. DBT assumes a few different things:
- People are doing the best that they possibly can in their current situation
- Problems are not always one person’s fault, but they have to try to resolve it
- People want their situation to improve
- Everyone can learn new behaviors that will enhance and change their lives.
By making these assumptions and believing that unwanted thoughts and behaviors are learned and reinforced, DBT works to unlearn these thoughts and behavior patterns through some exercises and coping skills.
There are several methods of change that DBT employs in order to treat drug & alcohol addiction, all of them with the same goal: Equip clients with tools so that they are able to develop a healthier mindset. The basic premise for practicing DBT is that people who are exhibiting self-destructive behaviors and tendencies (substance use, self-harm, eating disorders, etc) do not have the skills to be able to solve the problems that were leading to their behaviors . By replacing those behaviors with skills that have proven to be productive and promote positive change, destructive behaviors will decrease.
Treating Drug & Alcohol Addiction with DBT Methods & Principles
Therapy may be offered in an outpatient or inpatient setting, however, inpatient drug rehab typically offers more intensive therapies and opportunities for healing than does outpatient care. In order for DBT to be successful, the therapist and client must form a collaborative partnership. While this may be hard at first, DBT drug addiction treatment methods help clients form this important relationship.
As soon as treatment begins, DBT drug addiction treatment encourages complete abstinence. For a person newly in recovery, this can be a very intimidating prospect. Because of this, DBT breaks down long-term sobriety into smaller, more easily obtained goals. The therapist may suggest that a person set a small goal, such as being sober for an hour, a day, or a week. Once a person has successfully attained this goal, they renew it and begin again. As a person continues to succeed, they gain stability and move closer to long-term abstinence.
As treatment progresses, the DBT drug addiction approach targets several behaviors that improve a person’s chance of recovery:
- Reducing or alleviating withdrawal symptoms
- Reducing cravings and temptations for relapse
- Removing social and environmental triggers for drug use, such as people, places, or events
- Overcoming behaviors or thoughts that encourage drug use
- Reinforcing healthy relationships, behaviors, and environments that support sobriety
The main goal of DBT drug addiction treatment is to help a person develop what is referred to as a “clear mind.” In this state, a person remains focused on their recovery goals while also being aware of potential threats to their sobriety. With a clear mind, being mindful helps a person avoid relapse triggers and cope with them should they arise.
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DBT Activities for Addiction
Before engaging in DBT activities for addiction, a health care professional generally explains the process of this substance abuse treatment approach. The therapist and client collaborate to develop realistic goals to be achieved during each of the four stages of therapy.
During stage one of DBT activities for addiction, individuals strive to gain control over their reckless behaviors, which could include heavy drinking or drug abuse. Those entering this level of therapy often have a history of self-harming, suicidal thoughts, or mental illness.
Stage one is designed to help people overcome these behaviors and achieve stability. It also aims to decrease behaviors that interfere with therapy. Through this stage, clients learn to increase their ability to manage stress and effectively interact with others.
Those in stage two of DBT activities for addiction have learned to manage their behaviors, but their emotional health remains an issue. They often suffer in silence. Upon entering this level of therapy, people may experience drug or alcohol abuse, have symptoms of an eating disorder, or engage in non-suicidal self-injury.
During the second stage, clients develop goals to be achieved during therapy. These targets are contingent on the severity of existing problems and their relationships. Individuals also learn self-validation techniques and maintain focus and control emotional stress.
Stage two aims to relieve traumatic stress. For example, a therapist may help someone with post-traumatic stress disorder and alcohol dependence through interventions that involve behavioral analyses, exposure therapy, and techniques to improve self-validation and mindfulness.
People in stage three of DBT activities for addiction often have problems with achieving happiness. In response, therapists help clients increase self-respect and self-esteem, identify life goals, and recognize an average balance of happiness and unhappiness.
Many people have trouble achieving a sense of connectedness, joy, and freedom. Stage four of DBT activities for addiction uses long-term psychotherapy to help individuals overcome these feelings and live a life of spiritual fulfillment.
DBT Skills for Addiction
Every recovery addict will respond differently to DBT methods depending on their own unique circumstances. However, these specific DBT methods have been beneficial for people struggling with substance abuse disorders and co-occurring conditions:
Managing emotions is a key component of emotional regulation. This method involves developing an understanding of one’s own emotions, how those emotions can make one feel vulnerable, and how to reduce emotional suffering.
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Interpersonal effectiveness helps develop skills for effective and positive communications with others. It also teaches us how to balance our priorities, nurture our relationships, and live fuller and happier lives.
Everyone faces distressing situations in their life. For the addict, the way they deal with these situations is by turning to alcohol or drugs. Distress tolerance helps to recover addicts learn how to deal with these situations in a more manageable manner while reaching a tolerable emotional state rather than turning to alcohol or drugs.
Mindfulness refers to teaching the person in recovery how to become more aware of their environment to be more engaged. The purpose is to get the addict to focus on what is occurring now rather than drifting off and concentrating on their past or worrying about tomorrow. It also helps them learn how to view their feelings and thoughts more impartially and unbiased.
Benefits Of DBT In Addiction Treatment
DBT is beneficial in addiction treatment because it addresses harmful behaviors that act as barriers to improving people’s lives. Within addiction treatment programs, DBT focuses on substance use and how it affects the quality of life, while also promoting target behaviors essential for overcoming addiction.
These behavioral targets include:
- Alleviating physical discomfort associated with withdrawal
- Avoiding triggers and cues related to substance use
- Community reinforcement of positive behaviors
- Decreasing substance use
- Reducing behaviors conducive to drug use, like momentarily giving up the goal to stop using drugs or alcohol, and instead functioning as if drug use can’t be avoided
- Reducing cravings and urges to use substances
Problematic behaviors often occur as a way to cope with a bad situation or feeling, like using substances to deal with depression, anxiety, or other mental health issues. DBT can help tRehab Center in New Jerseyhose those suffering from addiction develop effective ways to manage stress, regulate emotion, and be mindful of themselves and others. Within addiction treatment programs , the DBT drug addiction treatment approach is beneficial because of its unique approach to mental health and wellness, like promoting acceptance and change.
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DBT in Dual Diagnosis Programs in New Jersey
Many individuals struggling with addiction also have another underlying mental health condition. When someone is diagnosed with other disorders along with addiction is it referred to as dual diagnosis or co-occurring disorders. Co-occurring disorders with addiction must be treated simultaneously. If the underlying condition led to substance abuse and is left untreated, the person will go back to drugs or alcohol because the original trigger was not handled. Finding success in sobriety can be more difficult for those with a dual diagnosis but the right therapies can help get them on that path. DBT provides the skills and methods to sustain long-term recovery from the New Jersey rehab center.
DBT drug addiction treatment method allows a person to develop skills to handle intense emotions, stressful situations, and maintain healthy relationships. These skills can help someone maintain a balance of their emotions and state of mind to prevent damaging behaviors. According to Addiction Campuses, along with treatment for borderline personality disorder, DBT has shown positive results in treating conditions such as ADHD, bipolar disorder, bulimia, binge-eating disorder, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder. These conditions occur frequently in people that are also struggling with addiction. DBT provides the opportunity to learn to handle emotions that may have led to substance abuse or other damaging actions in the past.
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