DBT for substance abuse is considered a highly effective, evidence-based treatment for people with substance use disorders (SUDs) as well as those with poly-substance addictions and/or co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders. A lynchpin of the Pennsylvania Adult & Teen Challenge (PAATC) addiction treatment is our dialectical behavior therapy program.
If you or someone you care about is suffering from an addiction to drugs or alcohol and you would like to know more about addiction treatment, DBT for substance abuse, and the overall benefits of behavioral therapy, reach out to speak to one of our staff. If you complete this online form or call 844.442.8673, you will be connected with someone who can answer your questions.
What Is DBT for Substance Abuse?
Dialectical behavior therapy was developed in the 1970s by psychologist Marsha Lineman and is based on cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). Though it was originally intended for use in the treatment of borderline personality disorder, DBT soon became recognized as highly effective for other mental health conditions, including addiction.
DBT deals with both acceptance and change, seemingly opposing forces that, together, help people in recovery begin to heal. Acceptance helps you find peace with the now so you can stop struggling and start to move forward. Acceptance does not mean acquiescence. It opens the path to a shift toward something healthier while reducing barriers and stress. That shift is the change you seek. In the case of addiction treatment, it means recovery, sobriety, wellness, and mental and physical health.
How DBT Works
DBT is based on a set of established principles and goals that, by shifting behaviors, allow people to change their thinking and outlook in a holistic way without self-recrimination or anxiety.
- Mindfulness allows for full immersion in the present moment, which creates a clarity of focus and a way to end reactivity in the face of stressful situations and feelings. Mindfulness creates a calming effect on the neurological system, helpful in recovery, and life.
- Distress tolerance is an important goal and outcome of DBT. Substance abuse often arises out of someone’s seeking a way to manage mental health symptoms, life challenges, and trauma. DBT helps you develop mechanisms for distress tolerance, so you needn’t rely on drugs or alcohol.
- Interpersonal effectiveness is often a casualty of addiction which makes it difficult to ask for help, talk about feelings, or admit vulnerability. DBT helps people become effective communicators. This skill supports healthy relationships, including openness as well as the setting of healthy boundaries.
- Emotional regulation is central to distress tolerance and interpersonal relationships. It relies on the mindfulness lynchpin of DBT. It is possible to feel your emotions in a healthy range that does not require drugs to manage or leave you drained and anxious.
Mindfulness, honest and compassionate communication, and distress tolerance are all part of DBT. The fundamentals of this therapy modality work in concert to help those with substance addictions change their behaviors as well as their thinking.
Benefits of Behavioral Therapy
Behavioral therapies such as CBT and DBT bring about change from within by helping you realize the thoughts and beliefs you carry with you that steer you in unhealthy directions, and gradually shifting those thought patterns into beliefs and expectations that affect behavior in positive ways.
This process does not have to be traumatic, painful, or draining. DBT offers a multi-faceted approach that amplifies feelings of trust, empowerment, and well-being while helping you shed hopeless, negative feelings that are based on fear rather than facts.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy for Addiction at PAATC
Let one of our staff answer your questions about DBT and its efficacy. We have a great deal of experience with this powerful therapeutic tool and have witnessed countless people begin a successful recovery with its help.