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Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) for Addiction

Fighting addiction is a real-time struggle that no one can understand except the addict. Immediately, the brain is in fight-or-flight mode, and a craving for a drug is a physical need that must be satisfied. With treatment, the body and brain learn to live in a state of well-being, so the urge to take drugs is reduced or eliminated. 


But, the question is, what is the best treatment for addiction? The answer is Dialectical Behavior Therapy, which has been proven effective in various habits. The reason why it works is that it treats both the cognitive and emotional side of the addiction.

What Is Dialectical Behavior Therapy?

It is an adaptable cure for addiction that uses dialectical behavior therapy. Therapy sessions assist a person in overcoming destructive habits and feelings like drug abuse. Instead, therapy experts assist patients in developing healthy habits that will help them achieve long-term recovery success. Developing appropriate coping mechanisms is critical to long-term rehabilitation from mental health issues.


Consequently, therapy sessions help patients build the skills needed to deal with problems in their lives effectively.


The goal of therapy is to teach a person how to manage their emotions and behaviors in a way that is consistent with their values. Dialectical behavior therapy helps patients learn to effectively control their thoughts, feelings, and actions and live a happy and healthy life.


It was initially intended to help people with borderline personality disorder (BPD). However, it has been proven to be effective in treating a variety of ailments, such as:



DBT is investigated and tested like CBT to establish its usefulness in these settings. Treatments like these have been demonstrated to be more successful than others, including no therapy.

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How Dialectical Therapy Came To Being

Dr. Marsha Linehan developed DBT in the early 1990s. Her solution was to create a new approach focused on the emotions and behaviors that drove individuals to self-injure and attempt suicide. 


Linehan developed a new approach to CBT that focused on modifying the emotions, thoughts, and behaviors that caused the problems.  To better understand these problems, Linehan conducted several studies focusing on how people think and act. 


She found that individuals with these problems tend to have thoughts and feelings that lead them to act in destructive ways. These destructive thoughts and feelings are known as cognitive distortions.


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Expert Contributor

Dr. Williams presently serves on the board of Directors for two non-profit service organizations. He holds a Master’s degree in Human Services from Lincoln University, Philadelphia, Pa, and a Ph.D. with a concentration in Clinical Psychology from Union Institute and University. In Cincinnati, Ohio. He is licensed to practice addictions counseling in both New Jersey and Connecticut and has a pending application as a practicing Psychologist in New Jersey.

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Techniques of Dialectical Behavior Therapy

DBT isn't just a single approach process. There are four main techniques of DBT, which comprise the following:

1. Individual Therapy

One-on-one treatment helps alcoholics and drug addicts practice the methods they've learned in courses. The DBT program includes weekly one-on-one sessions with a therapist. A recovered addict's treatment sessions are customized to meet their specific needs. So, therapists may assist the addict in figuring out how properly to put their newly acquired abilities into practice.

2. Team Engagement

Therapy staff and other caregivers get priority attention during team consultations rather than patients. Psychotherapists benefit from team consultation because it helps them remain motivated while treating patients who might be challenging to treat.

3. Skills Training

The addict learns how to develop a healthy way of thinking and acting. They learn how to change the way they think and behave. For example, a person with an eating disorder might know how to identify when they are thinking about food and stop thinking about it. A person with a drug or alcohol addiction might learn how to deal with cravings and urges.

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Addiction Treatment Benefits of Group Therapy

DBT is a comprehensive treatment based on the premise that it's necessary to understand the source of the problems. Following are the goals of Dialectical Behavior Therapy.

Phase 1: Getting Back In Control


For example, self-harm is discouraged at this phase of treatment, which focuses on developing skills such as paying attention to details and strengthening social life. Always remember that recovery is a process, not an event. It's the same with DBT.


Phase 2: Switching From Emotional Inertia To Active Involvement

Overwhelmed by their feelings, people numb themselves. In phase 2, the objective is to completely and adequately experience emotions without depending on denial or escaping them. For example, a person who uses drugs or alcohol to escape the pain of their past might learn how to deal with negative emotions more healthily.


Phase 3: Having a Normal Life And Dealing With Usual Issues

Throughout this phase, the person will concentrate on more typical and anticipated issues. Instead of treating severe symptoms like persistent suicidal behavior, the therapy will focus on the interpersonal disputes, job issues, life objectives, and relatively minor psychological symptoms that most individuals face.

Phase 4: Moving From the State Of Incompleteness To Contentment

After diminishing undesirable feelings, the last stage's purpose is to help the person progress towards satisfaction in the future. According to DBT, this aim may be achieved through cultivating a feeling of belonging in the world.


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Addiction is never a choice. You can't choose to be addicted. The fact is that addiction is a disease. It will affect your health, relationships, and career if you don't treat it. However, Dialectical Behavior Therapy is an excellent treatment that can help you beat your addiction. So, please do not ignore it. Please do not run away from it or try to deny it. Instead, seek professional help and put your life back on track.

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What is dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)?
How dialectical therapy came to being
Techniques of DBT
Addiction treatment benefits of group therapy
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