With diverse reports showing the high prevalence of substance abuse among youth and adults today, dialectical behavior therapy has shown to be among the most effective interventions for substance abuse. Dialectical behavior therapy is a type of cognitive-behavioral approach made for patients seeking recovery from addiction. It involves teaching patients how to cope with stress, regulate emotions, and prevent relapse. At ASWH, we offer various forms of dialectical behavior treatment such as individual and group treatment sessions. In this article, readers will learn about the diverse forms of dialectical behavior therapy that are utilized in our practice to tackle substance abuse and dependency.

What Is Dialectical Behavioral Therapy

Developed by Dr. Marsha M. Linehan, dialectical behavioral therapy is a stand-alone psychotherapeutic treatment made available for people with severe and multiple psycho-social disorders such as depression and substance abuse. Due to the increasing rate of substance abuse in society, the dialectical behavioral treatment program was developed to help incorporate modalities and concepts that improve abstinence from drugs and minimize relapse. In comparison with other types of therapies, the dialectical behavioral approach is more inclined to promote two main goals for patients; Change and acceptance.

Underlying Concepts Of DBT

Underlying concepts of DBT are based on improving patients’ quality of life by minimizing negative action tendencies that are associated with substance abuse. We teach chronically ill individuals ways on how to manage their detrimental thoughts and emotions, which often lead to substance abuse. Some of the purposes of DBT treatment for abusers include:

  • Ameliorating patient’s motivation to change
  • Boosting patient’s abilities and capabilities
  • Assisting patients to overcome suicidal thoughts and substance abuse
  • Generalizing new behaviors
  • Teaching patients new interaction skills

Ashamed Girl On A Group Therapy Session

Evidence Base

According to reports, several randomized clinical trials have found that the use of dialectical behavior therapy for substance abuse decreased consumption in patients with borderline personality disorder.

A clinical trial conducted by the Amsterdam Institute for Addiction Research evaluated dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) as an effective cognitive-behavioral treatment for drug-dependent women with BPD.

These are some of the various evidence that proves the efficacy of the dialectical behavior therapeutical approach in treating substance abuse disorders.

Forms Of Therapy

There are two forms of dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) which include:

Group Therapy

Group treatment is a collective psychotherapy program consisting of a group of substance abusers with a common goal: breaking the cycle of addiction. At group dialectical behavior treatment programs, our specialists tutor drug abusers on distinct ways to manage addiction and how to modify their beliefs to prevent dependence. Our therapists also teach various dialectical behavior therapy groups new coping skills that can be put into good use in real-world situations.

In the dialectical behavior treatment group, patients can be asked to do group exercises and make use of role-playing. They are also given different homework each week to assist them in learning new social skills.

Individual Therapy

Individual dialectical behavior therapy techniques involve having weekly private sessions with a therapist towards overcoming addiction and relapse. During the therapy session, our therapists work towards achieving the following goals:

  • Reducing self-harming behaviors that mostly lead to substance abuse.
  • Improving the quality of life of drug addicts.
  • Teaching patients new social and communication skills
  • Addressing post-traumatic stress responses

Depending on the severity, location, and other factors, an individual therapy session lasts for approximately 45–60 minutes per week. Our therapists also offer dialectical behavior therapy residential treatment based on demand.

Individual Psychological Therapy

Therapy Stages

Dialectical behavior treatment techniques consist of four different stages of treatment. However, before a person engages in the treatment, our health care therapists start by explaining in detail the whole process to the patient. From there, the patient and the therapist can collaborate to achieve the desired goals during the four stages of treatment.

Stage One Of Dialectical Behavior Treatment Program

To begin, our therapists begin by identifying the reckless behaviors, thoughts, and feelings that led to substance abuse. Once these problems have been detected, patients are taught ways to gain control over their emotions. An individual that has passed through this stage should be able to manage stress and effectively interact with people without thinking of drug.

Stage Two Of Dialectical Behavior Treatment Program

At the second stage, most individuals have learned ways to manage their negative behaviors to prevent dependence and relapse. However, their emotional health still remains an important issue. The second stage focuses on assisting patients in treating their emotional pain instead of silencing or burying it. Patients are taught self-validation skills and techniques to manage emotional and traumatic stress, thereby preventing substance abuse.

Stage Three Of Dialectical Behavior Treatment Program

The goal of stage three is to solve the diverse problems of everyday living and learning to value oneself. During this stage, our therapist aims at targeting basic symptoms like mental health, life goals, and relationship conflicts, which all contribute to substance abuse.

Stage Four Of Dialectical Behavior Treatment Program

Being the last and final stage, the therapist, in collaboration with the patients, works towards advancing the lives of the patients to the next level. The goal of this stage is to help people achieve and maintain an ongoing capacity for happiness and success.

Two People Shaking Hands During Therapy Session

Breaking The Cycle Of Addiction

Dialectical Behavior Therapy is a heterogeneous treatment that requires distinctive techniques depending on the patient and reasons that led to substance addiction.

At the start of the treatment, our therapists communicate the expectations that need to be achieved. Since continuous abstinence can be quite challenging in the long run, our therapists encourage patients to commit to abstinence for a short period of time (say a couple of hours, a day or even a week).

Once abstinence is achieved for that period, a new milestone is set. The patient is then required to renew the commitment for another attainable period of time. This pattern continues until long and stable term abstinence is attained by simply merging a short period of drug-free intervals.

Find Out How We Can Help

The dialectical behavior therapeutical approach centers on assisting individuals on patterns to defeat substance abuse. Those opting for dialectical behavioral therapy are assumed to have had a long history of mental illness, depression, and substance abuse. If you or your loved one are struggling with substance abuse and would like to learn more about Dialectical Behavioral Treatment Program, call our representatives. If you also have questions concerning drugs and alcohol addictions, do give us a call.

  1. Dimeff, L. A., & Linehan, M. M. (2008). Dialectical behavior therapy for substance abusers. Addiction science & clinical practice, 4(2), 39–47. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2797106/
  2. van den Bosch, L. M. C. (2003). Borderline personality disorder, substance abuse, and dialectical behavior therapy. https://pure.uva.nl/ws/files/3466402/31220_UBA002000936_15.pdf