Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) for Substance Abuse

You’re struggling with addiction and looking for help. Dialectical behavior therapy, or DBT, could provide some real solutions. At the Wisconsin Recovery Institute in Fond Du Lac, WI, each session is dedicated to imparting expertise in four essential skill sets: mindfulness, distress tolerance, emotion regulation, and interpersonal effectiveness.

Together, these give you new tools to manage cravings, control impulsive behaviors, regulate your emotions in healthy ways, and build supportive relationships. DBT can reduce addiction and relapse rates by teaching coping strategies to deal with triggers and stress. By learning these skills, you’ll be better equipped to overcome addiction.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a therapeutic approach that combines cognitive-behavioral techniques with mindfulness strategies. Developed by Dr. Marsha M. Linehan, DBT initially emerged as a treatment for individuals with borderline personality disorder (BPD). Over time, its effectiveness has been recognized in addressing various mental health issues, such as

  • Bipolar disorder
  • Various eating disorders (like anorexia nervosa, binge eating disorder, and bulimia nervosa)
  • Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
  • Major depressive disorder (covering treatment-resistant major depression and chronic depression)
  • Non-suicidal self-harm
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Substance use disorder
  • Suicidal tendencies
man with addiction undergoing DBT

While cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) focuses on behavior change, dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) places a stronger emphasis on acceptance and validation. In DBT, dialectics extends further by asserting that everything is interconnected, life is always changing and opposing forces can achieve balance. This approach is often applied in various settings, including:

  • Group Therapy: In this setting, patients learn behavioral skills collectively within a group, fostering a supportive environment for skill acquisition.
  • Individual Therapy: Conducted by a trained professional, this one-on-one therapy adapts the acquired behavioral skills to address the specific personal challenges faced by the patient.
  • Phone Coaching: This aspect of DBT allows patients to reach out to their therapist between sessions, seeking guidance on navigating challenging situations they may be currently experiencing.

Understanding DBT Skills Training

DBT skills training teaches you coping strategies to help deal with difficult emotions and situations. The skills are separated into four modalities: mindfulness, distress tolerance, emotion regulation, and interpersonal effectiveness.

Mindfulness skills focus on awareness and acceptance of the present moment. We practice techniques like meditation, yoga, and deep breathing to increase awareness of our thoughts and feelings without judgment. Mindfulness helps reduce negative thoughts and cravings, decrease distressing emotions, and increase self-control.

Distress tolerance skills teach you how to cope with painful emotions and situations in healthy ways. We learn strategies to accept and tolerate distress rather than avoid it through substance use. Skills include distraction, self-soothing, and thinking of the pros and cons of tolerating distress. The goal is to avoid impulsive behaviors and buy time until intense emotions pass.

Emotion regulation skills help you manage emotional reactions flexibly and functionally. We work to understand the relationship between our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Then we can choose how we want to respond, rather than reacting impulsively. Skills involve learning to identify emotions, understand their effects, and modify them. The goal is to decrease emotional vulnerability and reactivity.

Interpersonal effectiveness skills focus on building and maintaining healthy relationships. We practice assertiveness, setting boundaries, and resolving conflicts constructively. The skills teach you how to meet your own needs while also respecting the needs of others. Strong relationships are key to recovery, so interpersonal effectiveness is an important part of DBT.

Implementing DBT for Substance Abuse Treatment

When dealing with addiction, the challenges can feel overwhelming. But dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) provides concrete skills and tools to help you better cope with cravings and stay committed to your recovery.

The main goals of DBT for substance abuse treatment are:

Dialectical Behavior Therapy in Wisconsin
  • Learn coping strategies to avoid relapse. DBT teaches skills like distraction, self-soothing, and thinking through the consequences of using.
  • Healthily manage emotions. DBT helps you identify emotions, understand their causes, and regulate emotional intensity. This can help prevent emotional distress from triggering substance use.
  • Improve relationships. DBT focuses on interpersonal effectiveness by teaching assertiveness, conflict resolution, and other relationship skills. Healthy relationships are key to overcoming addiction.
  • Develop mindfulness. DBT cultivates awareness and acceptance of the present moment. This helps reduce cravings and negative thoughts while increasing self-control and peace of mind.

What are the Benefits of DBT?

In the realm of addiction treatment, the goals of dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) offer significant benefits:

DBT helps individuals improve emotional regulation, reducing their reliance on substances for emotional relief.

By promoting behavioral change and mindfulness, DBT fosters resilience in challenging situations, reducing the likelihood of relapse.

The focus on enhancing emotional regulation and mindfulness in DBT contributes to reducing impulsive actions, a key factor in addiction recovery.

Self-validation, a core aspect of DBT, encourages a positive self-image, which is crucial for sustaining long-term recovery from addiction.

DBT addresses problematic behaviors, aiding individuals in developing adaptive and healthier habits as they navigate the challenges of recovery.

Through enhancing interpersonal effectiveness, individuals in DBT learn communication and relationship skills, which are vital for building a supportive network during recovery.

The mindfulness training in DBT cultivates awareness, helping individuals gain better control over their thoughts and feelings, thereby fostering self-awareness.

DBT emphasizes validation, creating a supportive environment where individuals’ experiences are acknowledged. This contributes to a sense of acceptance that is crucial for recovery.

The dialectical approach of DBT encourages individuals to accept their current circumstances while actively working towards positive changes, facilitating a balanced approach to recovery.

DBT equips individuals with skills to cope with distress and high-stress situations without resorting to destructive behaviors, a fundamental aspect of addiction recovery.

Through the acquisition of skills and behavioral change, individuals in DBT work towards building greater self-respect and confidence in their ability to navigate life’s challenges.

The comprehensive nature of DBT, incorporating individual therapy, group skills training, and supportive elements, provides a holistic approach for individuals seeking recovery from addiction.

How to Get Started With DBT for Substance Abuse Treatment

To get started with Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), consider the following steps:

Familiarize yourself with the principles and techniques of DBT. Read relevant books, articles, or online resources to gain a basic understanding of the approach.

Locate a therapist who is trained and experienced in delivering DBT. Look for mental health professionals, psychologists, or counselors with specific expertise in this therapeutic modality.

Schedule an initial assessment with a qualified DBT therapist. During this session, discuss your mental health concerns, goals, and expectations. The therapist will assess whether DBT is a suitable approach for your needs.

Engage in individual therapy sessions with your DBT therapist. These sessions typically focus on addressing specific issues, building skills, and exploring personal challenges.

Participate in DBT group skills training sessions. These group sessions provide a structured environment to learn and practice the key skills emphasized in DBT, such as mindfulness, distress tolerance, emotion regulation, and interpersonal effectiveness.

Commit to regular attendance at both individual and group sessions. Consistency is crucial for the effectiveness of DBT, as it involves ongoing skill-building and therapeutic support.

Expect to receive homework assignments and practice DBT skills between sessions. Application of these skills in daily life is a fundamental aspect of therapy.

Some DBT therapists offer phone coaching between sessions for additional support during challenging moments. Discuss the availability of phone coaching with your therapist.

Collaborate with your therapist to set realistic and achievable goals. Establish short-term and long-term objectives to guide your progress in therapy.

Approach DBT with an open mind and a willingness to collaborate with your therapist. Active participation and communication are essential for the success of the therapeutic process.

Periodically, review your progress with your therapist. Adjust goals and strategies as needed to ensure that the therapy remains effective and aligned with your evolving needs.

Remember that dialectical behavior therapy is a structured and comprehensive approach, and progress often takes time. Stay committed to the process, and communicate openly with your therapist to make the most of your DBT experience.

Comprehensive Care with DBT at Wisconsin Recovery Institute

If you or your loved one is struggling with addiction, reach out to us today and embark on a journey towards lasting recovery. Our dedicated team at Wisconsin Recovery Institute is committed to providing compassionate and evidence-based care, utilizing the power of dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) alongside a range of services such as detox, residential treatment, and outpatient addiction services.

We understand that each individual’s path to recovery is unique, and our personalized treatment plans reflect that understanding. Our supervised drug and alcohol detox program ensures a safe and monitored detoxification process, guided by experienced medical professionals specializing in addiction medicine.

woman happy after therapy

By integrating DBT into our comprehensive approach, we empower individuals to acquire essential skills for emotional regulation, enhanced relationships, and effective coping mechanisms in the face of distress, ultimately breaking free from the cycle of substance misuse. Take the first step towards a healthier, addiction-free life. Contact us today for support and guidance on your recovery journey.

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