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Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) For Rehab Centers

Brenda Munnerlyn, RN, BSN

Medically reviewed by

Brenda Munnerlyn, RN, BSN

March 18, 2019

People who suffer from drug addiction have a wide range of treatment options available to help them regain a sober lifestyle. One of the newer methods is dialectical behavior therapy or DBT. This unique approach is especially useful for people with a drug addiction who also suffer from a borderline personality disorder. If you fall into that category, it’s worth understanding how dialectical behavior therapy can help you.

What Is Dialectical Behavior Therapy?

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is an off-shoot of cognitive behavioral therapy that is designed to help people who have a co-occurrence of borderline personality disorder along with their addiction. This disorder causes a wide range of problems, including emotional instability, a fear of abandonment, and of being alone.

Unfortunately, borderline personality disorder also causes severe anger, mood swings, and impulsiveness that makes it hard to create long-lasting relationships. People who suffer from this disorder can be compared to “whirlwinds” of angry and negative emotion that blaze out of control and who devastate the lives of their friends and family in negative ways.

Dialectical behavioral therapy is designed to treat this problem by helping them deal with their surges of emotion in constructive ways. It involves identifying problematic thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors that cause emotional difficulties. Usually, it requires regular psychotherapy sessions and group therapy to teach four coping traits:

  • Mindfulness
  • Proper interpersonal behaviors
  • Tolerating distress
  • Regulating emotions

These behavioral modifications eliminate the mood swings, violent anger surges, and wildly impulsive behaviors that make life so difficult for people with borderline personality disorder.

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What Is The Interaction Between Borderline Personality Disorder And Drug Addiction?

People with borderline personality disorder are often prone to falling victim of drug addiction. Many of them seek out drugs to help calm their chaotic mind and the negative emotions it generates. Others are pulled to it by their impulsive nature, deciding that anything is worth trying.

Another factor that contributes to the pull toward drug use is the feeling of not belonging. People with borderline personality disorder often feel misunderstood, aloof, and alone in the world. Falling in with a drug culture creates a sense of community that was otherwise lacking in their life.

As a result, of the nearly 6 percent of the people in the country who suffer from borderline personality disorder, a exorbitant number are also addicted to drugs. In fact, some studies have shown that 50-70 percent of them suffer from drug addiction.

How Can DBT Help Me Recover From Drug Addiction?

If you suffer from borderline personality and drug addiction, DBT will help treat the underlying emotional and psychological problems that contribute to these disorders. A typical DBT treatment plan goes through four stages of treatment.

The first stage helps you identify your problematic behaviors and utilize modes of proper behavioral control. Emotions during this stage will still be incredibly negative, but implementing coping techniques moves you towards a more positive state.

In the second stage, you’ll move beyond breaking free of negative emotions to a state of “non-emotion.” While that seems negative, it simply means that you are no longer feeling the extreme mood swings that characterize borderline personality disorder.

After that, you will move on to stage three, where you’ll learn how to feel normal happiness and unhappiness. At that point, you will commonly absorb the ability to feel joy in life and a sense of wholeness in stage four. That stage will take the longest to achieve.

Intriguingly, these stages correspond to the basic behavioral modification pattern set forth in the 12-Step program. As a result, many treatment centers are now pairing the two in order to treat co-occurring disorders.

Where Do I Find DBT Therapy Centers?

Dialectical behavioral therapy has become a widely respected and encouraged procedure and treatment method for addiction recovery. Rehabilitation centers that practice this therapy method have started popping up all across the nation. If you’re struggling to find a rehabilitation center near you that offers DBT treatments for your borderline personality disorder, please contact us at We will help connect you with professional, friendly, and caring recovery experts that will work to ease you back into a drug-free life.

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