DBT Therapy for Substance Abuse
If you or someone you love is ready to seek help for drug or alcohol abuse, then congratulations are in order. Saying that living with a chemical addiction is difficult is the understatement of the century. Addictions not only wreak havoc on your health and your finances, but they can jeopardize your job and your living situation. They can damage even your closest relationships as well, sometimes beyond repair.
However, it’s important to understand that not all addiction treatment methods are created equally and your recovery depends on your choosing the right one. What helps one person find success and get their life back once and for all might not work as well for someone else. Choose a treatment method that comes attached to a high rate of success and that is easily customized to fit a wide variety of different people, such as dialectical behavior therapy.
What Is Dialectical Behavior Therapy?
Dialectical behavior therapy (also called DBT for short) was first developed by Dr. Marsha Linehan of the University of Washington as an alternative to traditional methods that weren’t always effective for certain patients. It seeks to treat addiction by getting to the root causes behind it, as well as any mental illnesses, behavioral issues, or interpersonal problems that may also be factors.
DBT differs from traditional addiction therapies in a number of different ways. To begin with, it provides the patient with tools designed to boost self-awareness and teach valuable coping skills. It often includes both group therapy and one-on-one counseling sessions as part of the mix. The goal is not just to deal with chemical addiction to alcohol and drugs, but to come out of the process a better, more well-adjusted person fully equipped to live life without the aid of harmful substances.
DBT is effective in reducing treatment dropout, substance abuse, anger etc. Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a form of psychotherapy that was originally developed by Marsha M. Linehan, a psychology researcher at the University of Washington to treat women with histories of suicidal ideations, suicide attempts, or other self-harming behaviors, and those suffering from borderline personality disorder (BPD).
DBT combines standard cognitive-behavioral techniques for emotional regulation and reality–testing with concepts of distress tolerance, acceptance, and mindful awareness largely derived from Buddhist meditative practice. Research has shown DBT to be effective in reducing suicidal behavior, treatment dropout, substance abuse, anger and interpersonal difficulties.
What Are the Benefits of Dialectical Behavior Therapy?
DBT approaches will, of course, vary from facility to facility. Aspects of treatment will also likely be individualized to each patient’s unique needs. However, the approach on the whole comes attached to several major benefits.
Better Control of Emotions
For many people, drug or alcohol addiction develops as a way to deal with uncomfortable emotions and life stress in the absence of healthy coping mechanisms. DBT works to raise the patient’s level of emotional awareness. It also focuses on teaching healthy control of emotions, management of mood changes, and ability to control urges to act on impulse.
In cases where mental illnesses are discovered to be part of the equation, the patient is also counseled in a way that takes their mental condition into consideration. If necessary, immediate family may also be included in treatment.
Treatment for Trauma and Other Issues
In more than 60% of substance abuse addiction cases, underlying emotional trauma is found to be part of the problem. Such trauma can have many causes, including but not limited to childhood abuse, stressful life events, severe relationship problems, and more. If these issues are not addressed as part of treatment, the addict’s chances of experiencing a relapse at some point are drastically increased.
Part of DBT involves coming to terms with difficult traumas through approaches like talk therapy, mental health counseling, medical care for underlying medical issues, and more. When the root causes of addictions are identified and treated, so is the addiction.
Better Interpersonal Relations
A large part of DBT is about developing a better relationship not only with one’s self, but with other people as well. Patients learn how to relate better to beneficial people in their lives like friends, family members, and spouses. However, they are also taught better ways to deal with difficult or toxic people.
DBT also counsels those battling addiction in ways to build healthy boundaries, how to say no to negative relationships with others, and how to identify the difference between healthy relationships and unhealthy ones.
In a nutshell, DBT is about more than just battling addiction. It’s also about replacing unhealthy behavioral patterns with beneficial ones, becoming more self-aware, and learning how to cope with the ups and downs of life.