When it comes to addiction, one of the more promising types of therapy would be DBT or Dialectical Behavioral Therapy. DBT was originally created to help people with compulsive patterns leaning toward self-harm. It uses very simple, effective and practical techniques.
What is Addiction?
There are a variety of different definitions, however, one of the basic signs of any kind of addiction is that there always tends to include some sort of compulsive repetition of harmful behaviors. These are behaviors that those who are addicted continue to be chronically engaged in them even though they may know they are harmful. Common harmful behaviors would be the abuse of drugs and alcohol, overeating, unsafe sex practices, along with many, many more.
DBT Grows Over the Years
Even though DBT was originally designed to help those with suicidal issues, over the years those who practiced it realized that it was something that could be improved upon and could be developed into a tool that could be used for those who were victims of substance abuse.
Abusing different substances is a very well known self-harming type of behavior. Those suffering from addiction often suffer a variety of different negative consequences that come from their abuse of drugs and alcohol such as loss of jobs, broken relationships, failing health, legal issues, and economic issues. Even those who know the negative effects of addiction, many will go on using just to try and find a reprieve from their mental or physical pain.
DBT Helps Achieve Self-Acceptance
People suffering from addiction can often find ways to achieve better self-acceptance through DBT while at the same time learning how to accept the fact that there is a need for change in their lives. They do this through the four simple aspects of DBT: mindfulness, emotion regulation, interpersonal relations, and distress tolerance.
Mindfulness used in DBT can help those with an addiction issue because it teaches them to be more focused on what’s going on in the present moment instead of focusing on the past or even the future. It helps them to become more aware and much more accepting of what is happening around them and within themselves and learn how not to be judgmental about their experiences or feelings.
DBT and Interpersonal Relations
Addiction can have a huge negative impact on interpersonal relations and this part of DBT focuses on how people can learn to set limits on themselves and to learn to safeguard their interpersonal relationships.
DBT and Emotion Regulation
This part of DBT helps those suffering from addiction learn how to regulate, identify, and experience their emotions without being overwhelmed or act on their impulses. The aim here is to reduce their vulnerability and to increase their positive life experiences.
DBT and Distress Tolerance
Through distress tolerance, those suffering from addiction are taught how to focus on developing skills to help them cope better with any crises in life where their emotions might feel overwhelming and they are unable to solve the problem immediately like sickness, job loss, the death of a loved one, and so on. DBT helps them to persevere and learn how to live through a crisis and not making it worse by indulging in impulsive actions.
DBT is Encouragement
DBT encourages many suffering from addiction to make changes in their lives, such as stopping all drug and alcohol use but letting them know that if there is a relapse, it doesn’t mean that they still can’t achieve the result they desire, this is part of acceptance. DBT offers them a process that is nonjudgmental and offers them tools for good problem-solving positive responses to any relapse. It also includes ways to reduce the dangers of overdose and infections along with other harmful consequences.
Instead of being meant to feel like a failure if there is a relapse, DBT teaches people to see this as just another problem for them to solve. When a therapist knows a patient has relapsed they will rapidly shift the treatment to trying to help them “fail well”. This means that they guide them to make a behavioral analysis of what led them to relapse and focus on what can be learned and then applied to any situations in the future.
DBT Helps to Repair
With the failing well concept, DBT helps people repair the harm that may have been done personally to the patient and others around them during their relapse. This type of concept is very similar to the 12 steps of AA and it has two functions. For one, it helps to increase the awareness and the memory of negative consequences of alcohol and drug abuse, while at the same time dealing directly with the negative effects, especially “justified guilt” feelings. DBT helps them to learn how to accept the right amount of regret, guilt, and the desire to change.
Strategies for Potential Problems
Patients are taught different strategies they can use to deal with possible problems that might pop up will include triggers that might cause them to relapse. This is considered to be coping ahead and helps with the prevention of relapses. It is a technique that helps patients to acknowledge that their fallback coping technique in a lot of situations is to use when they feel there is no other way to cope. Instead of relapsing they are taught to use and identify different tools for helping them get through difficult problems before they even arise.