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Dialectical Behavioral Therapy for Addiction Treatment

Dialectical behavior therapy, also referred to as DBT, is a dynamic kind of addiction therapy that aims to help patients accept changes in order to conduct a healthy life without the influence of toxic substances.

The DBT Treatment Approach

Dialectical therapy was initially used as a treatment for borderline personality disorder. However, it can also be applied to substance abuse disorders and mental illnesses.
Although dialectic behavioral therapy is suited for both outpatient and inpatient sessions, a DBT treatment plan usually offers a higher chance of full recovery in inpatient settings.
DBT aims to create a collaborative relationship between the therapist and the patient and, as soon as the DBT for substance abuse begins, the plan calls for full abstinence in order for the therapy to be successful.

However, abstinence can sound threatening to a client that’s new to recovery. For this reason, dialectical behavioral therapy sets smaller objectives that are easy to reach so that the patient can eventually obtain full abstinence in the long run.

How Does DBT Work?

As a client moves on with the program, DBT focuses on several areas of a person’s life in order to offer the chance of a full recovery.

Some of the therapy’s main objectives are:

  • Minimize withdrawal symptoms.
  • Minimize the chances of relapses.
  • Create a social environment that is safe for the client and free of temptations.
  • Help the patient create healthy and safe relationships.
  • Help the client give up thoughts that might lead to substance abuse.

Through these steps, the ultimate goal of dialectical behavior therapy is helping the patient towards what is generally called a ‘clear mind.’ When a person finally reaches this state, they are able to recognize what can possibly threaten their newly acquired healthy lifestyle, and they can then keep focusing on their objectives. 

Ultimately, a patient will know how to avoid relapses and how to deal with trigger situations; Take a look at this article on the NCBI website if you wish to find out additional details on the relationship between DBT and substance abuse.

DBT: The 5 Main Functions

The foundations of DBT drug therapy are five main functions that want to eliminate negative emotions and thoughts from a person’s life.
Here are the main pillars dialectic behavioral therapy is based on:

  • Increase Capabilities: Through group therapy sessions or assignments, DBT wants to teach or improve a person’s necessary life skills that are the starting point of a full recovery and a healthy lifestyle. 
  • Generalizing Capabilities: This part of the dialectical therapy focuses on each individual and tries to help them develop healthy coping methods they can use to deal with the personal events that take place in their life. 
  • Reducing Dysfunctional Behaviors: The ultimate objective of this function is to motivate a client to make positive improvements in their life. 
  • Structuring the Environment: Here, the aim is to cut negative influences from the patient’s life while creating a healthy and safe environment.
  • Maintaining the Capabilities: The therapists stay updated on the best therapeutic methods that can be offered to the client so that they can always provide the best possible treatments.

What Can DBT Therapy Techniques Improve in Addict’s Behavior?

Dialectical behavior therapy can improve several areas of a patient’s life. However, the main four are:

  • Emotion regulation: Helps a client handle emotions in a safe way that doesn’t include drugs.
  • Mindfulness: Keeps the client focused on what is happening in the present rather than being caught in painful memories of the past.
  • Relationships: Helps the patient improve their communication skills.
  • Distress tolerance: Finds healthy ways the client can use to overcome stressful situations by practicing radical acceptance of the current moment. 
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