If you or a loved one is suffering from a painful addiction to drugs or alcohol, it may feel as though there is no hope in sight. Despite this feeling, you are not alone. Nearly 21 million people in America today also suffer from substance abuse.
As more and more research is done on addiction, professionals learn more and more about ways to treat the condition every day. Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is just one of the many very effective ways to help someone struggling with substance abuse.
It is important to look at all available options when treating someone with addiction issues. DBT is a well-respected treatment that is available at many quality rehab centers, including those in Arizona.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy for Addiction Treatment
Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is a method of treating addiction. It is very similar to cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Created by a psychologist over three decades ago, this method of treatment focuses not only on a patient’s current substance misuse but also on their personal journey and struggles.
In addition to substance abuse, DBT also treats mental health issues. Mental illness and drug addiction often go hand-in-hand. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, there are an estimated 8 million American adults who suffer from both mental illness and substance abuse; this equates to about 40% of all people who have an addiction to drugs or alcohol. Dialectical behavior therapy has proven to be one of the most effective ways of treating addiction for those who also have another co-occurring mental illness.
DBT’s core concepts come from cognitive behavioral therapy. With CBT, the basic principle is that thoughts and perceptions directly affect behavior. Behavior is something that is learned through experiences. According to CBT, it can also be unlearned. The goal with CBT is to identify the thoughts and actions that are contributing to substance abuse, work with a therapist to learn new beliefs, begin to form new opinions about things, and finally change negative behaviors into healthier ones.
The difference with DBT is that it places more focus on dialectics, which encompasses the ideas that everything is connected, change is constant, and that balance can be found in even the most opposing forces. The two primary concerns of DBT are to stabilize emotional vulnerability and to find validation in one’s world.
DBT is done both in a private setting, between you and your therapist, as well as in a group atmosphere. During your private sessions, there are not usually any other people present unless they are a critical part of your therapy session. You will need to develop a very close, trusting relationship between you and your therapist during these sessions in order to truly go through the therapeutic process.
You will likely meet your therapist once or twice per week on an individual basis. If you participate in group therapy, it is typically held once a week. Group therapy is incredibly beneficial for many people. It allows you to be amongst peers who are going through similar struggles; this can be very validating and healing. During group therapy, you can also build a network of people to support you and that you can support when times are hard.
How DBT Treats Substance Abuse
Dialectical behavior therapy can be used to treat a number of different conditions, including drug or alcohol abuse. DBT is based around four main goals of treatment:
- Becoming more in control of your life
- Becoming emotionally engaged
- Having a normal life and being able to solve everyday problems
- Gaining a sense of being complete
By working through each step of the process with your therapist and accomplishing each of these goals, the desire to use drugs or alcohol is lessened. In addition, you can also learn better ways to deal with life’s complications as they come your way. Eventually, the little things that may trip you up today can be easily managed after some time in DBT therapy.
Using Acceptance and Change to Overcome Addiction
Two of the core concepts of DBT are both acceptance and change. Clients are taught to accept situations and themselves but also embrace change where it is possible. This may include learning to consider situations from the opposing viewpoint and compromising when it makes sense.
It is often said that the first step to fixing any problem is admitting that there is a problem at all. This could not be any truer than it is with addiction and substance abuse. If the person struggling with the disorder is either unaware of the issue or in denial about it, there is nothing that can be done.
The most important part of overcoming any addiction is accepting the fact that there is a problem. Once we have identified this issue within ourselves, we can begin our journey towards recovery. This occurs in steps, with small changes and new understanding along the way. Before long, we start to realize that we are worth more, that we want more, and that we deserve more.
DBT Facilitates Lasting Recovery
Because DBT focuses on long-term, meaningful life changes, there is great success found in those who use it for substance abuse issues. The transformation that an individual undergoes during DBT creates healthy behaviors that support lasting recovery.
Instead of just getting clean temporarily and then leaving rehab for a short stint of sobriety, people who embrace DBT and its concepts are able to make real, lasting changes that lead to a healthy and sober life.
Finding Treatment Near You
If you have decided that dialectical behavior therapy is for you, and you are ready to begin your journey to a better life, there are several ways you can receive this treatment. Many rehab centers offer DBT as part of their curriculum. You can enroll in a treatment facility near you. Typically, centers offer both full-time (inpatient) and part-time (outpatient) program options.
Many private therapists in most urban areas offer DBT services. This can be extremely useful if you prefer not to attend a rehab program or want to supplement your recovery after completing rehab. There are also regular meetings held across the country to help people struggling with addiction or substance abuse. You can find your local Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, or other group meeting schedules online easily. These meetings can be a great place to network with people who can help you find additional help; they also allow you an opportunity to build a support system of peers who understand your struggles. Local social services offices may also be of assistance in finding the right program.
The most important part is being ready to make that change. Once you have accepted that you need help, you can finally begin to heal.