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Many people with substance use disorder (SUD) and co-occurring mental health issues have trouble coping with their diagnosis. Some people may find it challenging to accept their circumstances or motivate themselves to make essential life changes. Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) helps people come to terms with their condition and move forward in recovery. Painted Desert Recovery uses DBT and other evidence-based methods to help women heal from SUD.
DBT is a form of psychotherapy originally created to treat borderline personality disorder (BPD). However, it is often used to treat SUD and co-occurring SUD with BPD. According to Frontiers in Psychology, “Substance use disorders (SUD) are highly prevalent among individuals with borderline personality disorder (BPD) with 78% of individuals meeting diagnostic criteria.” DBT is one of the most effective forms of psychological treatment for clients diagnosed with these disorders.
During DBT sessions, clients generally do the following:
Each session is tailored to the unique needs of the client to ensure they receive the support they need to reduce the risk of relapse.
DBT addresses emotion dysregulation and other issues affecting people in early recovery from substance abuse. According to Addiction Science and Clinical Practice, “Treating severe emotional dysregulation and co-occurring substance misuse is challenging . . . It has been [hypothesized] that the skills training, which is a facet of the full DBT [program], might be effective for people with severe emotional dysregulation and other co-occurring conditions, but who do not meet the criteria for BPD.” Painted Desert Recovery personalizes care plans to ensure women in treatment learn the skills they need to manage their disorder during long-term recovery.
According to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), “The structure of DBT involves individual psychotherapy, group skills training,” and in-the-moment coaching. During sessions, therapists guide clients through developing skills by following four primary principles. Below are brief overviews of the main principles of DBT.
Being mindful of the connections between thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors makes it easier for clients to understand their symptoms and the side effects of their disorder. According to Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy, “DBT leads to increases in self‐reported mindfulness—especially non‐judgemental awareness along with psychological measures that suggests an increase in mindfulness, for example, improved attention.” Increased self-awareness allows people to recognize the areas in their lives they need to change to improve their physical and mental health.
Many addictive substances affect areas of the brain responsible for emotion regulation. According to Addiction, “Individuals with substance use disorders (SUDs) have been shown to have higher levels of negative emotionality, with some evidence suggesting impairment in emotion regulation compared with individuals without SUDs.” DBT helps clients in recovery identify, process, and regulate emotions and emotional responses. Learning to regulate emotions reduces the risk of relapse and improves the effectiveness of treatment.
People participating in DBT learn interpersonal effectiveness skills to help them identify how their behaviors affect relationships with the people around them. Repairing damaged relationships and creating healthier family dynamics is an important part of recovery for many people with SUD. The skills learned in DBT sessions allow people to more easily identify and manage issues related to interpersonal connections. Improved social skills also improve the effectiveness of group therapy and support groups.
Substance abuse may reduce some people’s stress tolerance, making it more difficult for them to cope with everyday problems during early recovery. DBT helps people improve distress tolerance by providing clients with the skills they need to acknowledge, accept, and allow distressing emotions instead of avoiding or repressing them.
According to Psychiatry, “The patient populations for which DBT has the most empirical support include parasuicidal women with borderline personality disorder (BPD), but there have been promising findings for patients with BPD and substance use disorders (SUDs), persons who meet criteria for binge-eating disorder, and depressed elderly patients.”
Often, DBT is used to address dual diagnosis causing persistent severe mental health issues. Clients may struggle to feel motivated to complete treatment or maintain sobriety. DBT helps them come to terms with the need for change while reducing self-judgment. Many people with SUD have difficulty accepting their need for help despite the condition causing them physical and emotional harm. DBT allows people to be mindful of their motivations and regulate emotional responses.
Painted Desert Recovery uses DBT in individual and group sessions. The clinical team collaborates with clients to ensure every session provides practical and effective support to women recovering from SUD. According to Heliyon, “Participants of DBT are expected to learn relevant behavioral skills through completing assignments, sharing experiences, interactive discussions, role plays, and by receiving corrective feedbacks on new behavioral skills they have actually practiced in interpersonal situations.” Painted Desert Recovery provides women in recovery with the skill development and guidance they need to successfully use tools like DBT.
Women with persistent, severe, or treatment-resistant mental health disorders experience more challenges during early recovery from substance use disorder. Dialectical behavior therapy is one of the best treatment options for addressing complex co-occurring disorders affecting women in recovery. To learn more about the services and programs offered at Painted Desert Recovery, call us today at (844) 540-0353.