DBT for Addiction

The National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics (NCDAS) reports that in 2020, 37.309 million Americans aged 12 and up had substance abuse disorders. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA) states that 15.4% of American adults, nearly 39 million, face a substance use disorder annually. Many experts argue that the right therapy can drastically reduce these numbers. Dialectical behavior therapy for addiction stands out, with many professionals vouching for its success in recovery.
At Freedom Health Treatment in Framingham, MA, we champion treatments integrated with therapy to address behavioral health effectively.

What is Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) for addiction?

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is a robust psychotherapy form with an educational angle. It empowers individuals to manage intense emotions and navigate social connections. Rooted in cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), DBT specifically aids those overwhelmed by their emotions.
DBT emphasizes accepting life realities and behaviors. Many struggle with accepting harsh truths that clash with their core beliefs. For substance abuse, DBT focuses on eliminating harmful behaviors and promoting positive change.
Initially, DBT treated borderline personality disorder (BPD) with significant success. This triumph led specialists to adapt DBT for various mental health issues.
DBT’s emphasis on emotional regulation helps combat self-destructive behaviors, including substance use disorders and eating disorders. It’s also applied to treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) with varied success rates.
Substance abuse alters mindset and behavior, classifying it as a mental health concern. DBT zeroes in on emotion-driven decisions leading to addiction. By identifying these emotions, individuals develop coping mechanisms to tackle the root causes of their substance use.

What Issues Can Be Addressed and Treated Using Dialectical Behavior Therapy for addiction?

Most individuals encounter intrusive thoughts occasionally. However, not all classify as mental health issues. The concern arises when thoughts spark overwhelming emotions, pushing some towards harmful actions. Thus, dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) targets these emotions. Viewed as primary problem drivers stemming from intrusive thoughts. Consequently, DBT addresses various mental health challenges, including:
Intense emotions push some towards drugs or alcohol. Substances can mask or numb these feelings. Some create euphoria, reducing emotional distress. Others alter perception, erasing bothersome thoughts. Alcohol and sleeping pills mute emotions, offering escape through sleep.
Trauma has a way of severely damaging the mind of a person. This damage could manifest in several ways. Examples as fear of continued abuse, immense aversion to specific things such as bodies of water or fire, or even loud noises that could remind the person of gunfire or explosions. This trauma becomes immensely troublesome as they cause the person to develop PTSD and addiction. Which often floods their mind with intense memories of the trauma that affected them.

While these memories could be quite fearful, it is the emotion that they trigger that causes the trouble. As these emotions could cause the person to be subdued with great fear, become hostile towards others that they associate with the memory. Causing the person to become highly self-destructive.
There are quite a few mental health conditions that often push the idea that the best way to not feel the strong emotions plaguing a person is through death. The notion of finally finding peace at last from emotions of fear, extreme guilt, insecurity, or other feelings. This could become so inviting at times that death simply becomes so an attractive idea.

The finality of the grave becomes quite inviting to some people who spend the better part of their day being plagued by emotions they could not control or shut out even for a brief time. There are many cases when even substances don’t serve to stave off the strong emotions anymore. As the effects of substances wear off after a while, which brings all the emotions crashing right back into the person. This is why the permanent peace of death becomes an even better alternative for some.
Individuals who suffer from depression seek depression treatment in Massachusetts to alleviate the overpowering emotion of sadness. Many people who suffer from depression are so overwhelmed with a crushing sense of melancholy that they would welcome anything. Anything that would remove the overpowering emotion of sadness that they feel.

While there are medications that serve to numb these emotions for a time, many who suffer from depression. They admit to feeling a lingering dread of the intense sadness consuming them completely one day when the medications stops working. The difficulty with depression is that no amount of logic or rationalization could diminish the severe sadness felt by someone having a bout of depression.
Binge eating and bulimia are believed to be caused by specific emotions, namely fear, and disgust. Which is why dialectical behavior therapy could be ideal for people who suffer from eating disorders. In more complex cases, the eating disorder could be linked to other conditions. Such as body dysmorphic disorder, in which the person is overcome with disgust or revulsion when they see certain “imperfections” in how they look.

In other cases, people tend to have eating disorders because they suffer from bullying. Whereas others might call them names alluding to weight issues. In most cases, people who suffer from eating disorders feel a great sense of sadness, fear, and insecurity. This affects how their behavior toward eating and food.
The broad spectrum of conditions that fall under anxiety mostly also have unmanaged emotion as a primary trigger for adverse reactions. This is particularly true for those who have specific phobias, panic attacks, avoidant personality disorder, and social anxiety. As these conditions are dominated by the emotion of fear.

With anxiety and addiction, the simple knowledge of what is causing the adverse emotion is often not enough to mitigate the negative effects. This is where dialectical behavior therapy plays a significant role. It does not only help in identifying these emotions but also in figuring out the best coping strategies to help in managing them.

What are the Four Modules of Dialectical Behavior Therapy for addiction?

The entire premise of dialectical behavior therapy works on the idea of validating the emotions being felt by the person. Regardless if these emotions are real, imagined, or somewhere in between. It is important to address them and acknowledge that they are there. Following the validation, there is also a need to address how they affect the person. If they are harmful in any way, then there is a need to do something about the situation. This is where the four modules of dialectical behavior therapy come in.
While it might sound like something taken from a new-age practice where science does not have much of a say, the practice of mindfulness is rooted in the fundamentals of science. Mindfulness is simply the practice of being in the present. This means perceiving, understanding, and taking in everything that is currently around the person at that specific time. Mindfulness is a practical approach to solving the most basic emotion that causes a lot of trouble for many people: fear.

This fear is primarily directed at things that many people no longer have any control over. Which is the past, and in things that might happen, which is the future. By dwelling on the mistakes of the past and possible troubling outcomes in the future, a person could become so fearful that they simply stop functioning.

By living in the here and now, a person can be in a situation where they could still influence the outcome of things. Giving them a measure of control. This control translates into power for many people, and power is often the best deterrent against fear. There is simply nothing good that would come out of dwelling so much on past mistakes. This will only serve to continually wear down a person’s self-worth and instill in them a foreboding and lingering sense of guilt.

Becoming so fearful of the future is also not very healthy. No one could accurately predict what the future may bring, and this is even true for those who are facing judicial action. A person declared guilty of an action today could be exonerated for it with the discovery of new facts that could overturn the ruling. This is why it is far better to live in the here and now, as this is where a person could do something concrete about things.

By living in the present and focusing on treatment, a person can gain a sense of control over their fear of the past or future. Dwelling on past mistakes or future uncertainties can lead to paralyzing fear and a sense of guilt. However, through treatment such as inpatient residential treatment, outpatient treatment, intensive outpatient program, and partial hospitalization program, individuals can learn to manage their fears and regain a sense of power and control over their lives.
Anger management is a very real thing, and it could be the only thing that prevents a person from an action that they would regret later on. Emotion regulation is important. The phrase ” I could not control myself” will never prevent a person from getting into trouble with the law or with anyone else. The most inflammatory things that others say will not cause a person to die or get sick, They could cause a person to get into serious trouble if they let their temper get the best of them.

This also holds when a person is consumed by a great sadness. Doing self-harm or even committing suicide because of feelings of sadness or guilt will not fix anything. Emotion regulation also becomes increasingly crucial if the person happens to be in a situation where they are being goaded into an action that would regret.

This module comes with three goals: to understand the emotion, to reduce emotional vulnerability, and to decrease emotional suffering. Emotion regulation is immensely important. This is often what comes out as the knee-jerk reaction, which usually only serves to make the situation even worse.

Emotion regulation affords a person the benefit of logic in assessing a situation where they could figure out a better and more beneficial response. As compared to lashing out blindly when emotion clouds logical thought.
Emotion can sabotage effective communication. When overwhelmed, responses deteriorate or halt. Such emotional outbursts can lead to victim-blaming. Often, assertive communication could prevent problems. Clear communication is essential; people can’t read minds. Without it, we’re left guessing. Effective communication is a survival skill. In emergencies, it’s lifesaving. Proper interaction can defuse tensions and resolve conflicts.
Toxic positivity detractors argue, but many situations lie beyond control. Sometimes, hoping remains the only option. Often, control is just an illusion. In such moments, coping becomes key. Effective coping helps navigate distress while keeping a clear mind. Dialectical behavior therapy emphasizes this; paralysis from fear can be detrimental. Recent global events highlight a truth: survivors think clearly amid crisis. Succumbing to emotions like fear undermines survival chances. In crises, some claim neutrality, ignoring our inherent flight response. However, emergencies demand either strategic escape or gearing for conflict.

Freedom Health Can Help You Achieve True Freedom from Addiction

There are many instances where therapy supposedly does not work and the person who gets it either relapses into old bad habits or avoids any kind of treatment or rehabilitation in the future. Addiction therapy services work, but only if it is appropriate for the person and diagnosis.
This is something that we are very keen on here at our drug rehab in Massachusetts because we know that countless hours of therapy could accomplish nothing if it is not suited to the issue. We know this because we have helped so many with their issues using this mindset. We could help you too. Talk to us now.

Break Free From Addiction

At our substance abuse treatment center in Massachusetts, we do our best to meet each individual where they’re at. Each person comes with a different mold – a different struggle. The best way we can help them is to offer them care that is unique to their own situation; there is no one-size-fits-all method to substance abuse treatment. This is why individualized care is so important to us. If you or a loved one are interested in finding out more, you can contact us here.

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