Dialectical Behavioral Therapy for Addiction

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy for Addiction 

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy for Addiction (DBT) is a comprehensive treatment program whose ultimate goal is to aid patients in their efforts to build a life worth living. It combines standard cognitive-behavioral techniques for emotion regulation and reality-testing with concepts of distress tolerance, acceptance, and mindful awareness largely derived from Buddhist meditative practice. Research indicates that DBT is effective in treating patients who present varied symptoms and behaviors associated with mood disorders, including self-injury. Recent work suggests its effectiveness for treating chemical dependency.

When dialectical behavioral therapy for addiction is successful, the patient learns to envision, articulate, pursue, and sustain goals that are independent of his or her history of out-of-control behavior, including substance abuse, and is better able to grapple with life’s ordinary problems. The fundamental principle of DBT is to create a dynamic that promotes two opposed goals for patients: change and acceptance.

The treatment includes five essential functions:

  • improving patient motivation to change
  • enhancing patient capabilities
  • generalizing new behaviors
  • structuring the environment
  • enhancing therapist capability and motivation

History of Dialectical Behavioral Therapy

DBT was initially used as the standard behavioral therapy of the 1970s to treat chronically suicidal individuals. Subsequently, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy for Addiction was adapted for use with individuals with both severe substance use disorder (SUD) and borderline personality disorder (BPD), one of the most common dual diagnoses in cases of addiction. DBT includes explicit strategies for overcoming some of the most difficult problems that complicate treatment of both conditions.

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy for Addiction

The ultimate goal in dialectical behavior therapy for addiction is to aid patients in their efforts to build a life worth living. When DBT is successful, the patient learns to envision, articulate, pursue, and sustain goals that are independent of his or her history of out-of-control behavior, including substance abuse, and is better able to grapple with life’s ordinary problems.

The all-encompassing embrace of both acceptance and change in dialectical behavior therapy for addiction is consistent with the philosophical approach found in Twelve-Step programs, expressed in the Serenity Prayer: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

Like other behavioral approaches, DBT addresses the most detrimental to the least detrimental behaviors in that order. This is used to decrease behaviors that are imminently life-threatening (e.g., suicidal or homicidal); for substance-dependent individuals, substance abuse is considered the most important target within the category of behaviors that interfere with quality of life. Dialectical behavioral therapy for addiction targets include:

  • decreasing abuse of substances (both illicit drugs and legally prescribed drugs taken in a manner not prescribed);
  • alleviating physical discomfort associated with abstinence and/or withdrawal;
  • diminishing urges, cravings, and temptations to abuse;
  • avoiding people, places, and things associated with drug abuse, deleting the telephone numbers of drug contacts, getting a new phone number, and throwing away drug paraphernalia;
  • reducing behaviors that encourage drug abuse;
  • increasing reinforcement of healthy behaviors, such as making new friends, rekindling old friendships, pursuing social/vocational activities, and seeking environments that support abstinence






Therapy for Families of Drug Addicts

What is the importance of therapy for families of drug addicts?

First, it is the family that often recognizes the problem before their addicted loved one is ready to acknowledge or get help for his or her addiction. Secondly, chances for sustained recovery increase dramatically when families are involved, as addiction reaches far beyond the individual.

There are two basic types of therapy for families of drug addicts: family education and family-involved therapy. Most substance abuse treatment programs perceive the importance of educating families of drug addicts on what addiction is. It is important for the loved ones of the addict to understand that addiction is not merely an issue of willpower; it is a brain disease that affects addicts in such a way that they are unable to stop using drugs despite negative, even devastating consequences, and despite them having the desire to stop.

Educational therapy for families of drug addicts

In educational therapy for families of drug addicts, families identify the ways in which addiction has affected the family relationships and are introduced to resources that can lend support while their addicted loved one undergoes individual treatment. There are support groups such as Al-Anon, Alateen, and Families Anonymous. The National Institute on Drug Abuse and the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence provide information, assistance, and access to publications regarding drug abuse.

Family therapy for families of drug addicts

Family therapy is therapy for families of drug addicts that involves a collection of therapeutic approaches. The purpose of therapy for families of drug addicts is two-fold: first, it seeks to use the family’s strengths and resources to help find or develop ways to live without substances of abuse. Second, it diminishes the impact of drug dependency on both the addict and his or her family.

In family therapy, the goal of treatment is to meet the needs of all family members. Therapy for families of drug addicts addresses the interdependent nature of family relationships and how these relationships serve the addict and other family members, in both positive and negative ways.

The foundation of therapy for families of drug addicts is the belief in family‐level assessment and intervention. In addressing therapy for families of drug addicts, it is key to recognize that a family is a system, and in any system each part is related to all other parts. Accordingly, a change in any part of the system will bring about changes in all other parts. The focus of therapy for families of drug addicts is to intervene in these complex relational patterns, the family unit and its interrelationships, and to alter them in ways that bring about productive change for the entire family. Therapy for families of drug addicts rests on the systems perspective. As such, changes in one part of the system can and do produce changes in other parts of the system, and these changes can contribute to either problems or solutions.


Therapy for families of drug addicts addresses a range of influences on the addict’s drug abuse patterns and is designed to improve overall family functioning. In this way, therapy for families of drug addicts serves as a crucial support to the success of their loved one’s recovery.







Grief and Substance Abuse

Grief and Substance Abuse

Grief and Substance Abuse

Grief is a response to loss and it can involve many different facets. It is feelings of sorrow, emotion, and confusion after losing someone or something that is important to you. It is a natural, normal part of life. Grief can be experienced in reaction to death, divorce, job loss, a move away from family and friends, or a loss of health due to illness.

Grief and Substance Abuse: Emotions

Grief is often associated with crying, anger and depression. But these are not necessarily the only emotions a person experiences when they are grieving. Some people feel emptiness and apathy. Others get angry or frustrated. Still others will use drugs and alcohol as a way to cope with the grief. This is why the link between grief and substance abuse is so strong. Drugs and alcohol become a way for some people to numb the difficult emotions.

Grief and Substance Abuse: The Connection

Many people turn to drugs and alcohol to cope with a loss. They may find comfort in drugs and alcohol, that the substances are there for them when they need them. They may wish to numb the way they are feeling or forget about what happened. Or they may use substance abuse to punish themselves for the loss, in the case of a divorce, job loss, accident, or death of a child.

When people combine grief and substance abuse, they may appear strong when they are not. They may feel that grief is a weakness. But people who abuse drugs and alcohol to deal with a loss are in fact just numbing their emotions and prolonging the process of grief.

In addition, combining grief and substance abuse can cause people to act out recklessly. The combination of their emotional state plus the reduction of inhibitions from drugs and alcohol can cause them to do things they otherwise would not do. They may use multiple drugs, drink until they are intoxicated, engage in risky sexual behaviors, drive while drunk, share needles, or take drugs they normally would not take. This tendency is especially common in people with a history of substance abuse, anxiety, depression, or negative behavior patterns.

Grief and Substance Abuse: The Danger

Substance abuse masks grief. Some people who have significant substance abuse issues may have started using or drinking as a way to cope with loss or grief. They continue to use because they don’t want to feel it. They know that as soon as they stop using drugs and alcohol, they will have to feel all the emotions they have been suppressing.

Grief and substance abuse is a common problem in drug addicts and alcoholics. Whether or not they were already abusing substances when it happen, many addicts and alcoholics experienced some type of grief which kicked off or worsened their substance abuse. To recover, they have to get clean sober and deal with the emotions that are associated with the loss. They will have to come to terms with it and learn how to process emotions in a healthy way.


Psychodynamic Therapy

What is Psychodynamic Therapy?

Psychodynamic therapy is a type of therapy that focuses on a person’s subconscious and the way it affects their behavior. Through the process, clients become aware of vulnerable feelings that they may not recognize consciously. This is a type of talk therapy, so it involves sitting down one-on-one with a therapist. In this type of therapy, the therapist keeps his own personality and beliefs out of the picture. They aim to be like a blank canvas, so the client can gain self-awareness and an understanding of how the past affects the present.

History of Psychodynamic Therapy

There are four different schools of thought that influence psychodynamic therapy: Freudian, Ego Psychology, Object Relations, and Self Psychology. The principals were first introduced in the 1800’s by Ernst Wilhelm Ritter von Brücke, a German scientist. Mostly is based on the theory that a “maladaption” is present in the subconscious, and the maladaption affects behavior and beliefs. Psychodynamic Therapy aims to correct this maladaption so that the person can achieve harmony in their everyday life.

What to Expect at Psychodynamic Therapy

In a psychodynamic therapy session, the therapist probably won’t say much. Many times, the therapist will encourage free-association, which basically means that you say whatever comes to mind. They may occasionally point out something you said, to draw your attention to the thought. Sometimes they will not say anything at all, and you may not either, but most psychodynamic therapy practitioners believe there is benefit in silence, so don’t worry if you can’t think of anything to say for a period of time. To some people, psychodynamic therapy seems outdated. It is often portrayed in books and movies, and it is most people’s idea of “traditional” therapy: The client lying on the couch, while the therapist sits back in silence and takes notes.

Psychodynamic therapy is generally long term, with many therapists recommending a course of two years of sessions for full healing. Then there is brief psychodynamic therapy. This is an alternate form of psychodynamic therapy where the therapist believes that change can happen through quicker process or that an initial period of therapy sessions will start an ongoing process of change that does not need continuous therapy sessions. In brief psychodynamic therapy, there is usually one central issue that is addressed, instead of the client just freely associating. The core focus of brief psychodynamic therapy is identified in the first session, and the therapist keeps that issue the main focus of treatment.

Psychodynamic Therapy for Depression

Psychodynamic therapy is used frequently to treat depression. It often works well in treating depression because the client can freely associate and share whatever thoughts come to them during a session. Many times, this is a great way to identify subconscious thoughts that may be the root cause of depression, especially since sometimes it is hard to identify the cause of depressed feelings. Recent research has shown that psychodynamic therapy is at least as effective as other treatments for depression, and its effects last longer than other therapies.

Core Principles of Psychodynamic Therapy.

Therapy for Drug Abuse Treatment

Therapy for drug abuse treatment

Therapy for drug abuse treatment

Therapy for Drug Abuse Treatment

By Jenny Hunt

Therapy for drug abuse treatment can take many different forms. There is inpatient therapy, outpatient therapy, intensive outpatient treatment, group therapy, individual talk therapy, hypnotherapy, holistic therapy, anger management therapy, trauma therapy, family therapy, etc. Most treatment centers offer several different types of therapy for drug abuse treatment because no two people are the same, and no two people respond in the same way to a certain kind of therapy. Here we explore some of the most common types of therapy for drug abuse treatment.

Standard therapy for drug abuse treatment is talk therapy. Talk therapy is the generic name given to a range of psychotherapeutic therapies that includes cognitive behavioral therapy, psychoanalysis, and counseling. Cognitive behavioral therapy basically works on changing dysfunctional ideas about certain events or behaviors and eliminating negative associations through talking and role-playing. Psychoanalysis is a process by which you work with a therapist to identify the root cause of dysfunctional ideas and behaviors and why you think the way you do. Counseling is just the process of advising the client on how to handle situations and events.

Almost all treatment centers incorporate some form of talk therapy. Usually there is a mixture of group and individual sessions. In individual sessions, you are able to talk about your specific problems and concerns. Group talk therapy allows you to hear other people’s perspective on a topic. Talk therapy is considered an integral piece in therapy for drug abuse treatment.

It is becoming more and more common for treatment centers to incorporate holistic therapy for drug abuse treatment. It has been shown that clients are three times more likely to succeed when they are introduced to at least one holistic practice during treatment. Holistic practices can include acupuncture, massage, yoga, or meditation.

Family therapy is also a common therapy for drug abuse treatment. Addiction affects the whole family and often, the loved ones of the addict or alcoholic are just as sick as the addict or alcoholic themselves in their own way. Family therapy can heal broken relationships and reveal enabling behaviors that may threaten an addict or alcoholic’s recovery.

Many addicts and alcoholics have experienced trauma either during or prior to active addiction. Sometimes a traumatic event caused the pain that was eventually numbed by drugs or alcohol. Other times, use of drugs or alcohol caused the individual to find themselves in risky or unsafe circumstances and it was then that the trauma occurred. Regardless, many addicts and alcoholics carry the burden of trauma around like an albatross. It affects the way they feel about themselves, other people, and life in general. If this trauma is not resolved, it can make it almost impossible for a drug addict or alcoholic to recover. This is why therapy for drug abuse treatment often includes trauma resolution.

Every individual is different, as is every drug abuse treatment program. It is important to carefully assess your needs before deciding on the best place to get help, and to make sure they have the resources to respond to your needs.

Tips for Finding a Therapist

Tips for Finding a Therapist

By Jenny Hunt

Finding a therapist can be a daunting task. There are so many different areas of specialty, methodologies, and accreditations to consider when finding a therapist, it can be overwhelming. Psychiatrist, Psychologist, Marriage & Family therapist, Family Counselor, Licensed Professional Counselor, Social Worker, the list just goes on and on and we haven’t even considered all the PHD’s and MD’s at all. Therapists of any kind provide help for those seeking mental health counseling and each brings experience, insights, and individual character to the table. How can you go about finding a therapist who is right for your needs?  These tips for finding a therapist will be helpful in your search.

1.) What type of therapy do you need? The first step in finding a therapist is asking yourself, ” What kind of therapy do I need?”.  What is the main issue you are dealing with? Are you having relationship problems? Dealing with past trauma? Suffering from depression or anxiety? Isolating the main area of concern is helpful when finding a therapist. Therapists usually specialize in different areas, so it is important to find one with experience in the area that you need. Keep in mind that if you are suffering from a problem that may require medication, you should probably look for an MD. Only therapists with a medical degree can prescribe medication. If you’re not sure what kind of therapist you need to see then consult with your normal doctor to receive a referral.

2.) Can I afford it? Therapy can be very expensive, so cost is important to consider when finding a therapist. Most insurance plans cover mental health therapy. Make sure you check with your insurance company before you book an appointment with a therapist. Find out about any co-pays or deductibles you may have for this type of treatment. Make sure that you can afford to cover your portion of the costs of therapy.

3.) Can I respect and trust my therapist? Whenever possible, try to meet potential therapists before the first session. Trust is the most important consideration when finding a therapist. Without trust in your therapist, you aren’t likely to make much progress in therapy. For some people, sex of the therapist is an important consideration. Some may be more comfortable with a male therapist, while others feel better in the presence of a female. For other people, the therapist’s life experience may be the deciding factor. Often, people struggling with an addiction will be able to relate to a therapist who has been through the same battle. It is important to consider your comfort level when finding a therapist.

4.) What do his other patients think? Sometimes the easiest way to finding a therapist is asking around. If people you know respect the therapist, he or she may be worth checking out. If no one you know has been treated by the therapist you are considering, Google the therapist’s name. Often you will find reviews and ratings posted by the therapist’s past or current patients. You may not want to put too much stock in any single review. However, if many of the therapist’s patients say the same things about him or her, it may be something to consider when you make your decision. A better source of information is your primary care doctor. Call the office for a referral or ask for one at your next appointment.