A woman holds a loved one’s hands as they discuss DBT for addiction.

How Addiction is Treated with DBT

Dealing with a substance use disorder can leave you feeling lost, overwhelmed, and alone. The number of therapeutic interventions available to a struggling addict are countless, so who’s to say which one will work best for you?

Figuring out where to turn to receive the most effective treatment option that will address your addiction while also helping to heal your mind and body can be a tricky endeavor. Which treatment approach will you turn to when you’ve overcome your fears and decided to face your substance use disorder head-on?

Dialectical behavioral therapy, or DBT, is a proven and effective therapeutic option being incorporated around the world to address all manners of addiction. Understanding the basics of this treatment modality, and the benefits it provides, can help you decide if this form of therapy is a good fit for you and the addiction you are focused on conquering.

What is Dialectical Behavioral Therapy?

DBT is a comprehensive, evidence-based treatment intervention for people struggling with all manners of substance addiction. It combines cognitive and behavioral methods of therapy into a therapeutic model aimed at transforming negative thought patterns and destructive behaviors into positive outcomes.

This is achieved by creating a controlled treatment environment in which an addict has the opportunity to practice regulating:

  • Emotions
  • Addictive impulses
  • Maladaptive thought patterns
  • Relapse

This treatment approach is purposefully focused on training a person to regulate behavioral and emotional impulses, while also learning to manage the symptoms associated with their addiction. This is typically accomplished by combining group and individual therapy sessions that seek to teach the individual valuable self-management skills that can be incorporated into their daily life.

The individual therapy sessions are extremely helpful in creating behavioral plans and goals for attaining and maintaining substance abstinence. These individualized sessions offer an empowering experience because they can teach you how to change the negative narrative surrounding your disease by establishing self-compassion and purpose in your life beyond your substance use disorder.

This is achieved through:

  • Individual goal setting
  • Incorporating activities you enjoy
  • Mindfully understanding your addiction

A positive self-identity is also created through the treatment of addiction with dialectical behavioral therapy, where you will establish self-compassion, acceptance, and an increased sense of self-worth and purpose.

The group therapy sessions work to teach you essential life skills by implementing self-management training, such as improved peer choices and techniques for avoiding substance abuse triggers.

These group environments also work to cultivate group support by showing you that you’re not alone on this journey of recovery.

Benefits of DBT for Addiction

The primary benefit of DBT is learning specific behavioral skills to process excessive emotionality, substance addiction, and mental stress. DBT will teach you improved mindfulness techniques, distress tolerance, interpersonal effectiveness and emotional regulation.

DBT is effective at treating substance use problems while simultaneously addressing other complex personal issues related to emotion dysregulation – including high-risk behaviors, impulsivity, depression and anxiety.

Achieving these DBT skills can be accomplished by a few simple techniques:

Mindfulness is learning to live your life in the present moment instead of allowing your thoughts to be hijacked by the past and the future. The practice of mindfulness will enable you to become more aware of your thoughts, feelings, actions, and reactions – which will allow you to pause during excessive emotional experiences and consciously make healthier personal decisions.

This understanding can forge the path of an improved sense of self and a self-awareness that can aid in achieving your sobriety and maintaining that achievement through difficult emotional experiences.

Reality acceptance is when you learn how to cope with experiences that induce stress and anxiety by reframing your thoughts, implementing self-soothing techniques, and better understanding the present moment.

By focusing on accepting your daily experiences, you can learn how to stop fighting reality –which inherently decreases personal suffering and unnecessary self-conflict.

Taking a nonjudgmental stance requires you to notice when you are judging things in any capacity, good or bad. Negative judgements tend to boost emotional pain and increase feelings of anger, irritability and frustration.

Working to replace negative, emotional judgements with positive perspectives will help you to
reduce the longevity of these emotions and increase the opportunity to reframe personal experiences into learning opportunities and instances of self-reflection.

In turn, this will allow you to become more aware of your thoughts and become less judgmental of yourself and others.

Whether turning to DBT to guide you through your recovery process, or one of the other available therapeutic interventions out there, approaching the practice with optimism and open-
mindedness is essential to benefiting from the experience.

Treatment is only effective if you are willing to admit your weaknesses and engage honestly. Learning to
embrace your faults and ask for help is essential to achieving long-term health and happiness, and it is the first step in overcoming the substance addiction that has plagued your life for so long.

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy at Ranch Creek Recovery

As a non-12-step rehab and holistic treatment center, a large component of our treatment program is rooted in dialectical behavioral therapy for certain addicts.

Designed specifically for individuals with self-harm behaviors, such as self-cutting, suicide thoughts, urges to suicide and suicide attempts, DBT has helped countless individuals live “Lives worth Living.”

At Ranch Creek Recovery, our team of treatment experts will work one-on-one with you to create a custom treatment plan that will include customized, life-changing DBT sessions.

Learn more about Ranch Creek Recovery, including what we offer and what we treat.

Have questions? We’re here to help. Contact us today to learn more about how DBT can help enhance your recovery process.

CALL NOW: (877) 293-8607


National Center for Biotechnology Information. Dialectical Behavior Therapy for Substance Abusers. Accessed September 29, 2018. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2797106/.

Psych Central. 3 DBT Skills Everyone Can Benefit From. Accessed September 29, 2018. https://psychcentral.com/blog/3-dbt-skills-everyone-can-benefit-from/.

National Center for Biotechnology Information. Dialectical Behavior Therapy. Accessed September 29, 2018. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2963469/.