DBT for addiction treatment

Most often than not, addiction is caused by emotional stress, which causes people to breakdown and turn to alcohol or other substances as their way of coping. By undergoing dialectical behavior therapy, you can regulate your emotions and cope to avoid these stressors. With regular practice of these coping skills, patients will become more aware of triggers that cause them distress and be able to better cope with difficult situations without engaging in addictive and maladaptive behaviors.

Learn more about dialectical behavior therapy for addiction treatment in Los Angeles, or contact Westwind Recovery® to start recovery.

What Is Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)?

Dialectical Behavior Therapy for addiction

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is an evidence-based psychotherapy that was originally developed to treat individuals with borderline personality disorder (BPD). DBT combines standard cognitive-behavioral techniques for emotion regulation.

It emphasizes the psychosocial aspects of treatment: how a person interacts with their environment as well as how they relate to and cope with others. The aim of DBT is to help clients improve their emotional regulation skills by teaching them more adaptive coping strategies and effective communication methods in order to manage difficult emotions without resorting to self-harm or other risky behaviors.

Through individual counseling sessions as well as group therapy or skills classes, DBT therapists use different techniques such as role-playing exercises, mindfulness practices, teaching distress tolerance strategies, and emotion regulation techniques in order to increase emotional regulation abilities.

The Four Modules of Dialectical Behavior Therapy

DBT comprises four modules: Core Mindfulness, Interpersonal Effectiveness, Distress Tolerance, and Emotion Regulation. By following these four modules, individuals can gain insight into their own thoughts, feelings, and behaviors so that they can make healthier choices and create a better sense of overall well-being. With consistent practice, DBT has been shown to help reduce symptoms of depression, anxiety, and other mental health disorders while allowing individuals to live more fulfilling lives.

Core Mindfulness

The Core Mindfulness module teaches individuals how to live in the present moment with acceptance, non-judgment, and curiosity. This module helps individuals become aware of their thoughts, feelings, sensations, and environment so that they can make informed decisions about how to act in any given situation.

Interpersonal Effectiveness

The Interpersonal Effectiveness module focuses on helping individuals learn how to communicate effectively with others while maintaining self-respect. This includes learning assertive communication skills such as setting boundaries and expressing needs directly without becoming manipulative or aggressive.

Distress Tolerance

The Distress Tolerance module aims to help individuals cope with urges to engage in negative behaviors such as self-harm or substance abuse. This module teaches individuals how to tolerate distress without resorting to unhealthy coping skills.

Emotion Regulation

Finally, the Emotion Regulation module focuses on understanding emotions and learning how to manage them effectively. This includes recognizing one’s emotional triggers, developing strategies for dealing with intense emotions, and changing dysfunctional behavior patterns associated with emotion dysregulation.

What is The Difference Between CBT and DBT?

DBT for addiction in los angeles

CBT and DBT are both types of psychotherapy that aim to help people better understand themselves, their behaviors, and the world around them. While the two approaches are similar in some ways, there are also important differences between them. Depending on the individual’s needs and goals, either type of therapy may be beneficial.

CBT focuses on identifying problematic thoughts and behaviors and then replacing them with more beneficial ones. By analyzing current thought patterns and behaviors, CBT helps people develop more effective coping strategies for dealing with stressors or difficult situations. The goal is to create a shift in thinking that results in healthier emotional responses and overall improved functioning.

DBT takes an even broader approach than CBT by emphasizing the importance of balancing acceptance of oneself with change-oriented techniques. Instead of trying to alter the thought patterns and behaviors directly, DBT emphasizes understanding the context in which they occur.

What Conditions Does DBT Treat?

DBT has been found to help with a variety of mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), borderline personality disorder (BPD), substance abuse, eating disorders, bipolar disorder, and other conditions. It can also be useful for those who are generally feeling overwhelmed or having difficulty regulating their emotions. DBT helps people learn how to better manage difficult emotions and behaviors in order to create the life they want.

The ultimate goal of DBT is to help people live more fulfilling lives by developing healthy coping skills that last long after therapy ends.

DBT for Addiction Treatment

Dialectical behavioral therapy is a cognitive-behavioral approach to helping individuals with substance use disorders (SUDs) move toward healthier, more functional lives. It focuses on increasing awareness of triggers, developing healthy coping strategies in response to cravings and urges, and cultivating positive behaviors that support long-term recovery.

Through DBT for addiction treatment, clients learn how to identify and modify patterns of thinking and behavior that perpetuate the cycle of addiction. They also gain insight into their emotions, such as anger or depression, which often fuel addictive behavior. In addition, they develop better communication skills to help them manage interpersonal conflicts so that they can build stronger relationships with family members and peers who may be supportive during the recovery process. With DBT for addiction treatment, people can work through the challenges of addiction and learn skills for life-long recovery.

Since DBT for addiction treatment is an evidence-based therapy, it is typically covered by health insurance plans. It is also available in many settings, including outpatient clinics, private practice offices, and residential treatment centers. Furthermore, DBT has been adapted to fit online platforms as well.

This allows individuals to participate in therapy from the comfort of their own homes if desired. The key to successful DBT for addiction treatment is finding a DBT therapist who has experience and expertise working with different substance use disorders. With the right support system and commitment to change, individuals can learn how to manage their addiction and work towards recovery goals.

What Happens in a DBT Therapy?

One-on-one Sessions

DBT requires work between an individual therapist, with whom the patient meets once a week. The bulk of Dialectical Behavioral Therapy is carried out in these individual sessions.

Throughout the early sessions, the patient is given an overview of the addiction treatment program and the importance that it can have in their life. What’s more important is that in these early stages, the relationship between the DBT therapist and the patient should be cemented  based on the expectations that the patient has.

In the first stage, the aim is to go from uncontrolled behavior to control one. The second stage seeks to break the inhibition of emotional experience to achieve a full experience of emotions. The third stage aims to help the patient build their own life, solving the problems that this implies and seeking greater stability. The fourth stage is considered a movement from the sensation of being incomplete to that of feeling complete and connected.

Between these sessions, the patient can use telephone contact to obtain support from their therapist. Phone coaching is an aspect of DBT that distinguishes it from many other types of therapy. The goal is for someone who is facing a crisis or a scenario in which they are struggling to be effective to receive immediate assistance from their DBT therapist rather than waiting until their next appointment.

Group Therapy Sessions

Group therapy sessions come later in the process and are made up of patients in the advanced stages of the program to help reduce the likelihood of relapse. It can be done through outpatient programs lasting around 2 to 4 hours a week. The groups are usually composed of two therapists and a maximum of eight patients.

Other Treatment Options

Dialectical behavioral therapy is just one of the many treatment options to treat addiction. It alone can’t help a person overcome addiction, but when combined with other treatments and therapies, sobriety is definitely attainable. Here are some of the treatment options that go well with dialectical behavioral therapy.


Detox is the first step in addiction recovery. Detoxing alone can result in chronic relapse, which can be life-threatening. Thus,  it is important to seek professional help through a reputable detox center. At these facilities, you will receive the support and tools you need to safely and successfully manage withdrawal symptoms

Family Therapy

Nearly everyone who has a substance use disorder also has a family that can be their support system through their recovery. While they can be a strong support system, family members of addicts are also highly affected by the situation. Hence, getting the whole family together with a professional can help a lot. Learn more about our family therapy program here.

Experiential Therapy

Sometimes individuals need more than traditional talk therapy. This is why a number of rehab centers offer experiential therapies to aid in addiction recovery. This includes non-traditional healing activities such as art therapy, music therapy, adventure therapy, animal-assisted therapy, and more.

Westwind Recovery® Can Assist with DBT for Addiction

DBT for addiction

Face addiction head-on and learn the skills to cope with your addiction triggers and stressors through our dialectical behavior program here at Westwind Recovery®. We look forward to assisting you with your recovery. Contact us today to begin.