Dialectical behavior therapy, or DBT, for addiction teaches clients new techniques for managing uncomfortable emotions and reducing relationship conflict. That way people can accept their negative thoughts and emotions so that they don’t have the power to cause them to exhibit negative behaviors such as abusing substances to cope.
Mindfulness tends to improve a person’s ability to accept things and be in the present moment. DBT allows individuals to increase their level of mindfulness. It also allows individuals to increase their level of distress tolerance.
Emotion regulation refers to the ability to manage one’s emotions so that they don’t cause people to exhibit problematic behaviors. By learning to accept one’s thoughts and emotions through DBT, individuals are essentially also practicing the useful addiction therapy tool of emotion regulation.
By allowing people to better manage their negative thoughts, emotions, and behaviors, DBT even helps people practice interpersonal effectiveness. Interpersonal effectiveness refers to the skills that enable a person to communicate with others in a confident, self-respecting, and relationship-building manner.
Thus, DBT for substance abuse at Florida Center for Recovery can especially help you if you are one of the following types of individuals:
- You have a difficult time dealing with your feelings.
- Your emotions are strong or explosive, and as a consequence, you have mood swings regularly.
- You feel like you’re on a roller coaster with your relationships.
- You’re feeling depressed, and as a result, you are hopeless.
- You’ve tried completing various other addiction treatment programs and have failed.
- Your life is out of control.
- You’re coping with stress or overwhelming emotions, using narcotics, and/or having unprotected sex, all of which can be harmful to your health.
Skills That DBT Teaches
Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) is the foundation of dialectical behavior therapy, or DBT. Both CBT and DBT have a long history of success with hundreds of studies demonstrating their efficacies.
CBT helps individuals discover objectives that are important to them. It also helps individuals overcome obstacles that stop them from achieving sobriety. In fact, many people that make use of CBT gain the ability to alter their unwanted ideas and habits.
The same is true for DBT for substance abuse. DBT teaches individuals the following core skills:
Core mindfulness skills, adapted from Eastern meditation practices, teach people how to become more aware of the present moment. Furthermore, core mindfulness helps individuals learn how to focus on one thing at a time, without judging themselves or others.
When a person faces different problems, distress tolerance teaches that person how to accept the fact that he or she is facing those problems. This is better than being locked in negative and emotional ways of thinking (such as thinking “this isn’t fair!”), that don’t assist people in better understanding their situations.
When people accept things that they have no control over, it helps them solve their problems quicker. This, in turn, helps improve people’s moods.
Interpersonal effectiveness teaches individuals how to build healthy relationships while also taking care of themselves. Working through conflict, listening properly, and explicitly asking for what one needs are all examples of interpersonal effectiveness.
Emotion regulation assists individuals in both identifying and labeling their feelings without judging them. Through emotion regulation, individuals can discover how their different emotions can influence their behaviors.
Emotion regulation also helps individuals learn what roadblocks stand in the way of them managing their emotions. Through emotion regulation, people even learn to avoid future situations that may elicit powerful, negative emotions in them.
Because DBT helps individuals accept their negative thoughts and emotions, it is no surprise that it helps foster emotion regulation. Through acceptance, people can learn how to avoid impulsive or self-harming behavior, such as abusing substances to cope.
Purpose of DBT for Substance Abuse
The purpose of DBT is to provide individuals with the tools they need to regulate their negative thoughts and emotions so that they don’t start abusing substances to cope. Hopefully, through DBT for addiction, individuals will not only be able to avoid abusing substances, but they’ll also be able to avoid exhibiting other negative behaviors that prevent them from living their best lives.
Another important purpose of DBT for substance abuse is to prevent negative behaviors that put people’s lives at risk. This is because when people don’t accept their negative thoughts and emotions, it can cause them to develop suicidal ideations.
This can then cause people to exhibit life-threatening behaviors such as self-harming and attempting suicide. Through DBT, people can prevent themselves from exhibiting behaviors that would block them from progressing in their recovery journeys, or worse, cause them to relapse.
When receiving different forms of addiction therapy here at Florida Center for Recovery such as DBT, incoming addiction treatment patients get the help that they need to identify negative behaviors that they need to reduce to maintain sobriety. Through forms of addiction therapy like DBT, individuals will also get the opportunity to identify positive behaviors that would help them maintain sobriety. Addiction treatment patients can even use DBT for addiction to help them treat any co-occurring mental illnesses that they may be suffering from.
DBT Core Components and Techniques
There are different methods by which people can use DBT. Below are the four core components of DBT and the four techniques by which a person can use DBT.
During one-on-one DBT therapy sessions, a single person meets with a single therapist. The therapist and patient will work together to identify the patient’s addiction triggers and the negative thoughts and emotions that arise within the patient because of his or her addiction triggers.
During one-on-one DBT therapy sessions, the therapist will then teach the patient methods to help them accept their negative thoughts and emotions before it causes them to want to abuse substances. Therapists during one-on-one DBT sessions may even make patients perform homework assignments to ensure that they are practicing the skills that they are learning in therapy.
An example of the type of homework assignment that a person may receive during DBT for addiction treatment is filling out daily “diary cards.” Diary cards track a person’s feelings, thoughts, and behaviors. By keeping track of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, people can gain a better understanding of what negative thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that they need to accept and change to prevent themselves from misusing substances.
Group Skills Training
During group skills training for DBT, individuals will learn the four skills that were discussed earlier in this article. Group skills training gives individuals the opportunity to connect with others and role-play new abilities. This is because the training is done in a group setting. Outside of standard group skills training, we here at Florida Center for Recovery also provide coping skills training during family intensive therapy.
Unlike most other therapies, DBT for addiction allows individuals to contact their therapists through phone for immediate help. Thus, individuals that are struggling to exhibit healthy coping skills while in recovery can call their addiction treatment therapists.
DBT therapists collaborate with consultation teams because helping individuals with life-threatening behaviors can be difficult. A DBT consultation team is a group of DBT practitioners who meet regularly to support one another. Such practitioners support one another by navigating various stressors, staying motivated, and providing effective therapy.
Other Skills DBT Teaches
Five usual DBT for addiction skills that people use to tolerate distress include:
- Improving the Moment
- Utilizing Pros and Cons
- Turning the Mind
Self-soothing is a DBT for substance abuse skill, found in the module Distress Tolerance. This important skill involves employing one’s five senses to regain one’s sense of peace. When not in a crisis, visualize the things or activities that make you happy. Activating the senses related to such happy memories can improve behavior.
Examples of self-soothing coping mechanisms for some senses include:
- Sight – Staring at nature, watching a relaxing film. looking at joyful photographs, visiting a museum, people-watching
- Smell – Utilizing essential oils, baking cookies, smelling items that remind you of happy times, lighting a candle, smelling nature
- Touch – Touching anything soft, petting an animal, feeling different temperatures, getting a massage, applying lotion to one’s body, hugging someone
Another DBT for addiction skill in the distress tolerance module is improving the moment. When emotions become too intense to tolerate, the goal is to minimize their intensity by improving the moment.
People can improve the moment through:
- Imagery: To picture a situation being resolved positively; to have joyful and positive thoughts, as a result, to consider the desired conclusion.
- Finding purpose in a painful circumstance, such as understanding that the experience can be utilized to help others, might make it easier to bear.
- Prayer- It can take numerous forms, such as reciting the serenity prayer or simply tuning in to a higher level of consciousness; it is not always religious.
- Relaxation: Calming the mind can be as simple as focusing on one’s breathing or going for a walk; there are guided relaxation films online and on apps to assist.
3. Using Pros and Cons
All people employ pros and cons while making decisions. People in addiction recovery should be deliberate while using DBT to create pros and cons for engaging in certain thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.
Some people can apply the ability to use pros and cons in their heads or out loud. Many people though find that writing or typing their pros and cons out helps them envision them better.
The following is a description of the process of using pros and cons during:
- Describe the type of crisis behavior you want to avoid.
- Examine the benefits and drawbacks of crisis behavior and acting on your impulses.
- Examine the pros and cons of each alternative.
4. Turning The Mind
The internal, mental work required to make a decision is the subject of this DBT skill. It’s about shifting your mindset from one of helplessness to one of personal empowerment. Consider it as though you’re approaching a fork in the road. You consider your two choices: one may not be ideal for you, but it is comfortable, and the other may push you out of your comfort zone, but you know it will be the greatest option in the end.
TIPP is an acronym for “time is of the essence,” and it’s a skill that’s frequently used during a crisis. “ A person can deal with overpowering emotions by utilizing this skill. This skill will assist individuals in managing their emotions when they feel a strong wave of emotions coming over them. Below are some examples of how to put TIPP to use:
- Immerse the face in cold water, place an ice cube on the eyes or cheek, or apply a cold or hot pack to one’s body
- Run, row, swim, or conduct other forms of intense activity, even if it’s just for short periods of time. It can help clear negative energy.
- Breathing peacefully
What Are the Benefits of DBT?
One of the most important advantages of DBT for substance abuse is that it allows patients to assess their feelings and respond more calmly to what is going on. Thus, addiction treatment patients that take advantage of DBT are less prone to participate in detrimental behaviors.
Other advantages of using DBT include its ability to help patients become less judgmental. DBT can also reduce suicidal thoughts and behaviors. DBT can even help addiction treatment patients develop stronger relationships.
Addiction treatment patients that make use of DBT are less likely to experience hospitalization for their mental health. As a result, living a more stable life becomes possible.
Receive DBT Here At Florida Center for Recovery
DBT for substance abuse is a treatment approach that incorporates group therapy, individual therapy, and phone sessions during a crisis and normally lasts two 24-week periods. Our goal here at Florida Center for Recovery is to assist patients in appreciating and accepting the current life moments while also helping them develop effective addiction coping mechanisms.
Successful DBT patients are less likely to have significant emotional reactions to addiction triggers or participate in self-destructive behaviors like relapsing to abuse substances. However, it’s important to note that the results of DBT depend on the patient and his or her relationship with a DBT therapist. Luckily, Florida Center for Recovery is a nationally renowned addiction treatment center that only uses highly qualified addiction therapists.
Don’t waste your life away by continuing to suffer from addiction. Receive the help you need through addiction therapy services like DBT. To learn more about DBT and any of the other addiction treatment therapies and programs that we offer here at Florida Center for Recovery, contact us today! We will be there for you.