Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) has been making strides in the field of mental health for several years now. But the approach’s success goes beyond the treatment of mental health issues. DBT is also showing its effectiveness in treating addiction, particularly alcoholism.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) believes that DBT may be a promising treatment option for individuals who struggle with alcohol abuse disorder (AUD). In DBT, a skilled therapist works with the patient to help manage emotions, develop coping skills, improve social relationships, and regulate behavior.
Alcoholism has long puzzled the medical and scientific communities, who are still learning more about the disease each day. But one thing is certain: alcoholism has both physical and psychological components. These factors feed into each other and create a vicious cycle that is challenging to overcome.
However, DBT targets both the psychological and the physiological aspects of alcohol addiction. Emotion regulation is one of the core components of DBT. It aims to help individuals identify and manage their emotions in a healthy, non-destructive manner. For alcoholics, this means understanding that negative emotions are part of life but learning to avoid using substances as a coping mechanism.
In conjunction with this, DBT emphasizes mindfulness. This includes the practice of being present in the moment and non-judgmentally observing one’s thoughts and emotions. Mindfulness creates a window for reflection and self-awareness that is critical to overcoming addiction recovery.
DBT also focuses on interpersonal relationships and communication. Rebuilding social ties can be a vital step in recovery from alcohol addiction. Many people who struggle with AUD struggle with communication skills and relationships and would benefit from learning more about interactions.
According to research, DBT has promising results in helping people with addiction problems. Some evidence suggests patients who have undergone DBT specifically for alcoholism reduce their drinking and substance use following therapy. Many patients have had success maintaining abstinence after completing drug treatment incorporating DBT.
DBT for alcoholism is not a silver bullet. Recovery from addiction is complex and requires a multi-faceted approach. But the evidence of its efficacy creates a case for using the approach as an essential tool to help those who struggle with alcohol addiction. DBT is providing hope to individuals and families coping with alcoholism to help create a healthier path forward.