Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) for Substance Abuse

If you have a drug or alcohol addiction, you are probably wondering what you should do to overcome the problem and get your life back on track. Many people try a range of treatments, and they may find it all but impossible to get their lives back on track. Fortunately, dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) for substance abuse can help individuals to move past addiction. This type of therapy takes a close look at the thoughts, behaviors, and feelings of those working to end addiction

DBT for substance abuse looks at the root of a person’s addiction and explores what caused it in the first place. It then explores the individual’s harmful behavioral patterns and finds the best way to change them.

dbt for substance abuse

Understanding the Effects of Addiction and the Need for Therapy

Addiction usually starts small for most people. Most individuals simply don’t see it coming. They may be spending time with friends when someone gets them to try drugs or alcohol for the first time. Once they do, they don’t think much of it. Some individuals view it as something fun they will do once and never try again. Many of them do it because their friends are using drugs or alcohol.

After a while, a person may decide to try drugs again. It gets harder and harder to stop each time they use these substances. Before they know it, the individual’s substance use is out of control. Addiction often causes problems in various areas of a person’s life. It can lead to job loss, broken relationships, physical health problems, mental health challenges, and so much more. Many successful people end up with nothing after addiction takes its toll. 

Substance abuse typically leaves individuals feeling hopeless and alone. Eventually, those who use or abuse alcohol or drugs may find themselves unable to function without these substances. They may not be able to focus on anything else in their lives. This only leads to life-long problems and challenges.

This is why it is vitally important for individuals to seek professional treatment for addiction. While in rehab, people can benefit from therapeutic approaches, including DBT for substance abuse.

What is Dialectical Behavior Therapy

DBT is a type of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). While CBT focuses on identifying and replacing negative cognitive patterns, DBT for substance abuse works to encourage acceptance and problem-solving idealogy in its patients. Individuals who suffer from addiction often struggle to address their behaviors and understand how some of them can be harmful. But, DBT for addiction works to both identify and change those ways of thinking.

This type of therapy has proven to be effective for those who are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, borderline personality disorder, eating disorders, self-harm, and suicidal ideation. Additionally, DBT can help in the treatment of substance use disorders.

DBT for Substance Abuse Helps to Identify Problems More Clearly

During dialectical behavior therapy, therapists and patients can discover and explore the underlying causes of addiction. They can uncover the harmful behaviors, thought patterns, and beliefs that contributed to the development of the individual’s substance use disorder.

In some cases, people have undiagnosed mental health disorders and turn to drugs and alcohol to cope with the emotional distress they feel. This can lead to co-occurring mental health disorders and substance use disorders. As a result, individuals may not know how to properly cope with the symptoms they’re experiencing. 

Fortunately, dialectical behavior therapy can help individuals to get to the root causes of their substance use. DBT for substance abuse assists therapists with this process and helps individuals to better assess their situations.

How DBT for Addiction Helps Those in Treatment

Dialectical behavior therapy for substance abuse can help individuals in various ways. It introduces mindfulness, thought monitoring, emotion regulation, and more. DBT also helps recovering individuals to properly address stress and triggers. This equips people with the skills they need as they prepare for life outside of treatment.


Mindfulness is an important part of your recovery process. Most people go through life without thinking about their thoughts and actions. They react to different situations without asking themselves why they do so, but that is not always the best approach. Therapy can help individuals to practice mindfulness and become more comfortable with analyzing their thoughts and feelings. 

Monitoring Thought Patterns

Monitoring your thoughts is an important part of the process. Some people believe monitoring thoughts is the same as being mindful, but this is not the case. Mindfulness is more like meditation, but you can monitor your thoughts all the time. When you feel like using alcohol or drugs, explore your thoughts and ask yourself where they came from. You can use this process to identify and address problematic or harmful thinking.

Emotion Regulation

Learning to regulate your emotions is another great move in the right direction. Many people turn to drugs or alcohol when they get emotional. If you feel strong emotions, pay attention to them so that you don’t end up using drugs again. Also, find out what triggers your emotions so that you can reduce the risk of relapse.

Stress Tolerance

Increasing stress tolerance is a vital part of the equation. Many people do well in treatment and begin getting their lives back on track, but stress often compels us to go back to old habits if we are not careful. Learning how to manage stress is a smart move in the right direction. Getting stress under control reduces your odds of relapsing. DBT for substance abuse can help people to find healthy ways to manage stress and remain on the right track.

Motivation Enhancement

Motivation enhancement therapy is another positive step in the right direction. It can be extremely difficult to overcome substance abuse. Many people make it a long way and then relapse, which causes discouragement. Becoming discouraged is a pitfall that makes it even harder to remain motivated, and individuals tend to lose momentum when that happens. The way a person approaches this situation impacts their long-term goals. If a person does not maintain motivation, relapse can occur.

Motivation enhancement therapy explores why a person’s motivation is dropping and gets it back on track. This approach helps people to learn to look at their long-term objectives. Also, individuals in therapy can learn to focus on the benefits of staying on the right path.

Communication Skills

As is the case with many other forms of addiction therapy, DBT for substance abuse helps people to develop healthy communication skills. It can be difficult to maintain healthy communication when suffering from addiction. Many individuals who suffer from addiction find themselves struggling to maintain relationships with family members, friends, coworkers, and other individuals due to a lack of communication. Substance use has a way of stripping this ability from people.

Thankfully, individuals can develop healthier ways of speaking with others, communicating with those around them, and expressing themselves. Not only is communication essential outside of treatment, but it’s also a necessity in therapy. Patients must be able to express their experiences with their therapists in order to receive the help they need. Although this may be a challenge at first, therapy can help to make this process much easier.

Setting Short-Term and Long-Term Goals

No matter your situation, getting your life back on track after addiction won’t always be an easy task. Improve your situation and set short- and long-term goals. Take an honest look at your life and decide what you need to improve, and the rest becomes much easier.

When you want to get your life back on track, short-term goals are a good start. They show you that you can make progress, helping you move toward your long-term goals. Your long-term goals are important because they rebuild your life and prevent you from going back.

Receiving Therapy at Harmony Place

If you are looking for a treatment center that has your needs in mind from start to finish, you have come to the right place. We stand by you each step of the way and ensure you make it through your recovery journey without too many unneeded problems. We offer a range of services on which you can depend:

Our residential programs have everything you need to stay on track and keep you moving in the right direction, and you will be thrilled to discover the outcome. We want you to have the best possible experience from start to finish, and you will know you are moving in the right direction.

We care about you and offer the top professionals in the industry. We treat you like a person and make sure you get the care you deserve. If you want help on which you can depend, contact us today.