Dialectical Behavior Therapy For Substance Abuse Addiction Treatment

Derived from cognitive behavioral therapy (aka CBT), many of those in substance abuse addiction treatment have found a lot of effectiveness in dialectical behavior therapy (or DBT). This form of psychotherapy focused on the treatment of severe mental health issues and high-risk behaviors. 

To make the differences between the two clear, DBT does not focus on managing or avoiding uncomfortable feelings, as CBT sometimes can. Rather, it aims to help patients accept and understand painful feelings as a part of life.

At Louisville Addiction Treatment Center, we have found that the DBT approach can be just as useful in treating substance abuse problems as it can when treating stress disorders, PTSD, anxiety disorders, and the like. Here’s how we make use of it.

About dialectical behavior therapy

With the use of behavioral techniques and an approach to changing unhelpful thought patterns, DBT can help patients address problematic behaviors. Therapists can provide instructions for new thought techniques, which can be applied through practice. Mindfulness is one such technique taught widely as a part of the DBT approach. Mindfulness allows one to be more cognizant of the present moment, which can include being able to more effectively observe their own behavior, the thoughts and feelings driving it, and the triggers that can change it. 

DBT also teaches interpersonal effectiveness, by empowering patients to better establish healthy relationships and repair those that have been damaged. This also includes equipping patients to recognize and end harmful relationships, aided by assertiveness training which can allow the better enforcement of boundaries.

DBT and Substance Abuse Addiction Treatment

DBT is already used to treat a range of disorders that are often considered co-morbid with drug abuse. Dual treatment of the addiction alongside the disorders that have a causal or dependent relationship with one another is one of the best ways to help people who are living with drug abuse.

Our experienced staff can alter DBT programs to fit substance abuse treatment, with an increased focus on abstinence as well as an awareness of triggers and how managing those triggers can help prevent a relapse in the future. Increased awareness of the negative effects of substance abuse disorders and the triggers that lead to them makes a good case for the effectiveness of DBT as part of a larger substance abuse treatment plan.

This can lead to some of the following benefits

  • Reduced substance use
  • Reduced physical discomfort in response to withdrawal
  • Reduced substance-based cravings and impulsive behavior
  • Better creation and enforcement of barriers and boundaries
  • Management of the psychological triggers that can cause a relapse
  • The chance to change one’s own harmful impulses and behaviors 
  • Improving healthy relationships with those you care about

How we incorporate DBT in our treatments

DBT is part of how we at Louisville Addiction Treatment Center can help. We can incorporate it as a part of our various treatment plans and programs. Here are just a few of them and how they might help those looking for addiction recovery treatment.

Inpatient Treatment

After admission to our treatment center, patients can take part in both one-on-one therapy, as well as group skills training that can allow them to learn and practice the techniques necessary to improve recovery chances.

Outpatient and Intensive Outpatient programs

Staying on-site at the treatment center is not always necessary for effective treatment, however. Outpatient and intensive outpatient programs can experience the benefits of DBT sessions up to 5-7 times a week while still maintaining a daily life routine outside of the center.


Remote access to treatment is becoming increasingly important, especially to those who face barriers such as disability or trouble with transport. Aside from therapy sessions, telemedicine can include in-the-moment advice when a patient is facing a difficult situation and needs immediate help.

Multiple Pathways Treatment

DBT can be combined with a range of different techniques as part of our multiple pathways treatment. We work with patients to help them find the best program to suit their individual needs.

Dialectical behavior therapy can help those who are living with a substance abuse problem. If you want to get that help today, then you should get in touch with the Louisville Addiction Treatment Center. DBT is but one of the techniques we employ and we ensure that we work with you to find the program that best fits your needs. Take the first step by getting in touch with us and we will help you on the steps to sustainable, long-term recovery through evidence-based treatment plans.

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