Treating addiction is a complex process. Treatment options can include a wide variety of therapies selected to give the individual patient the best chances of full and lasting recovery. Therapies can include yoga, art, music, rehabilitation in hospitals or treatment centers, psychological counseling, each with the goal of helping the patient overcome addiction in a different way. The use of CBT and DBT are common in the treatment of addiction. So, how do CBT and DBT help with recovery?
What is CBT?
CBT stands for Cognitive Behavior Therapy and is a hands-on therapy widely used to help patients deal with behavioral problems. The objective of CBT is to teach the patient how to handle difficulties properly, or at least in a non-destructive manner. It also seeks to show the patient the connection between their thought patterns, beliefs, behaviors, and the outcomes of their destructive behaviors. CBT is tailored to each patient and is frequently used in treating emotional, relationship, and substance abuse problems.
The techniques used in CBT draw from two disciplines. The first of those two is traditional psychotherapy. The therapist uses these techniques to help the patient understand how their patterns of thought and feelings developed as a child and influence their actions today. These experiences are often expressed in negative thoughts and emotions.
The second part is behavioral therapy. Here, the therapist uses techniques from that discipline to connect the fact that their behaviors are driven by the patient’s thoughts and emotions. And, that they need to change the negative behaviors to help in their recovery. The patient is taught how to manage their reactions more positively.
What is DBT?
DBT stands for Dialectical Behavior Therapy and is a subset of CBT. DBT was originally developed in the late 1980s to treat patients suffering from suicidal thoughts and attempted suicides. Early on, it was recognized as an effective option for treating other problems including substance abuse. Disorders that are successfully treated with DBT include:
- Depressive disorders.
- Bipolar disorder.
- Posttraumatic stress disorder.
- Anxiety disorders.
- Eating disorders.
- Substance use disorders.
The primary goal of DBT is to help the person suffering from addiction understand that life is worth living and to build a life they want to live. This is a direct result of the discipline’s roots in helping prevent suicides. It is also equally important in helping those with addictions recognize that there is a better option.
DBT differs from CBT in an important way. CBT focuses on understanding the cause of destructive behaviors and changing them. DBT focuses on understanding why the patient acts the way that they do, accepting that they act this way for a reason, and working to change the negative behaviors. DBT attempts to show that:
- Everything is connected – behaviors, emotions, thought patterns, results of inappropriate actions, and responses to emotional and other painful events are interlinked.
- Change is constant – nothing remains the same, change is inevitable, and we all have to change with it.
- Opposing forces can be brought together to find balance – realization that negative behavior is part of who they are and the desire to change can co-exist with this fact and lead to a positive outcome.
How do CBT and DBT Help with Recovery?
Addiction is often rooted in emotional issues. The person who develops the addiction does so in an attempt to escape some painful aspect or condition in their life. Addiction can be the result of low self-esteem, depression, stress, chronic pain, or many other factors. The person begins to act in ways that lead to addiction and the destructive results that follow. Addiction combines the power of behavior with the chemical effects of the addiction, a difficult combination to break.
CBT and DBT help with recovery by addressing the root causes of the behaviors that led to the patient’s addiction. These therapies, when used with detoxification programs, address both the chemical and behavioral aspects of addiction. When the patient understands the reasons for their thoughts, feelings, and reactions, they can learn and retain more appropriate coping skills. They can also see that there are options apart from the substance that gives them a life worth living.
DBT can be especially effective when used to help with substance abuse recovery. One of the reasons is its more optimistic approach that assumes the following:
- People are doing the best they can in their current situation.
- They want improvement in their lives.
- The recovering person is capable of learning how to change for the better.
- Their problems may not always be their fault, but it is up to them to resolve them.
Let Us Help
Both therapies work well when treating people with addiction. Because of the highly personalized nature of each, it is up to the therapist or recovery program to direct the patient to the most effective of the two options. We can help you understand how CBT and DBT help with recovery. Contact us or call 877-225-7724 today.
This article is intended for informational purposes only. Only a trained therapist or accredited recovery practice can provide you with proper counseling.