Dialectical behavioral therapy is used to help those suffering from addiction and mental health. Dialectical behavioral therapy helps addicts build confidence and learn to cope with stress and addiction.

Originally, dialectical behavioral therapy was used for cases of borderline personality disorder. Now, DBT is an effective way to treat and tackle cases of substance and alcohol addiction. DBT is just one of our many addiction treatment options at Unity Behavioral Health.

Addiction can be crippling for the person and everyone around them. It is important to speak with qualified medical professionals, so you can start living a healthier life. Dialectical behavior therapy allows for long-term sobriety and a stronger state of mind. 

How does Dialectical Behavioral Therapy Work?

Dialectical behavior therapy is a type of psychotherapy (also known as talk therapy). This approach comes from the idea that some people react to emotional stress more intensely. DBT tries to tone down these intense arousal levels found in addicts and other mental disorders.

DBT is very effective at treating borderline personality disorder because of the intense emotional swings caused by the disorder. DBT teaches certain skills and helps the person cope with these swings. DBT works the same way towards addiction causes and triggers. 

There are many aspects of someone’s life that might cause emotional stressors. Family, relationships, and childhood memories can all be causes of intense reactions. DBT helps the person cope with these triggers and understand the skills necessary to deal with them. 

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy Components

There are several different techniques and components that are used during DBT. These techniques are used to help the person understand the root of their issues while working to cope with them. The same components are used for addiction treatment as well. 


DBT helps a person understand their inner strength and builds on them. Positive self-image and overall confidence are both crucial to overcoming addiction. By improving one’s self-image, the individual can take control of their life and work towards a better life, knowing they deserve it. 


DBT helps pinpoint some of the negative emotions a person may be feeling. In many cases, people are too critical of themselves with assumptions that make life harder. The cognitive-based approach helps a person understand and cope with these thoughts. 

During addiction treatment, DBT works to change a person’s frame of mind. A person’s thoughts can be negative and intense during recovery. It is important to reframe these negative thoughts towards a more positive outlook for long-term recovery and a healthy state of mind. 


DBT is a collaborative process that starts with a strong relationship between the person and a therapist. DBT is most effective when a good foundation has been set. During the process, a person will find new ways to interact with others, practice skills, and complete personalized ‘homework assignments’ in the process.

Throughout the process, a therapist will be by your side every step of the way. Together, you’ll be able to master useful skills and techniques to cope with emotional stressors caused by addiction. With the right frame of mind and support by your side, you can slowly begin to leave the life of addiction behind you.

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy Session Breakdown

DBT works through weekly sessions (both individual and group). These sessions cover different aspects of addiction and help you learn skills and techniques during the process. Unity Health offers passionate therapists that are ready to help you on your journey to recovery. 

Individual Psychotherapy Sessions 

During dialectical behavior therapy, a person will meet with their therapist or counselor on a weekly basis. In these individual sessions, the person will be able to discuss the past week’s problems or other issues in their life. If someone is experiencing suicidal thoughts or behaviors, then they are a top priority. 

These sessions help to deal with life’s issues while trying to improve on habits and stressors. In cases of addiction, it is important to discuss certain triggers and emotional reactions when things get rough (while learning to deal with them). These BDT sessions also focus on self-image and confidence for the future. 

Group Therapy Sessions 

Weekly group sessions are usually around 2 and a half hours and are led by a qualified DBT therapist. In these group-based sessions, you’ll learn a number of different skills (specifically from the four modules of DBT). 

4 Modules of Dialectical Behavioral Therapy

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy uses 4 different modules for treatment. Each covers a different aspect of a person’s emotional and mental state. 

  1. Mindfulness

    • Mindfulness looks at observing, describing, and participating. Mindfulness helps to answer the questions, ‘why and how do I practice core mindfulness skills”
  2. Interpersonal Effectiveness

    • Interpersonal effectiveness looks at how a person interacts with the people around them. DBT teaches the skills required to be assertive but mindful in relationships with friends and family. In cases of addiction, being assertive and having self-respect is crucial to staying sober and healthy. In the case of addicts, there may be situations that require you to say ‘no’ or to ask someone to do something. This can be an important part of staying sober and clean in the future. Interpersonal effectiveness teaches a person these skills so they can get the most out of situations while maintaining respect.
  3. Emotion Regulation

    • Emotion regulation helps the person label and deal with intense emotions. Grappling these emotions and controlling them can make a huge difference in the long run for addicts. There may be signs of anger, depression, or anxiety when not using, these are completely normal.
    • Emotion regulation helps a person deal with these emotions in a healthy and effective way. Emotion regulation uses a number of different techniques and skills to help grapple these intense emotions. Dialectical behavioral therapy uses the following skills to regulate emotion:
      • Understanding obstacles when changing emotions
      • Accurately identifying and labeling emotions
      • Using distress tolerance tips and techniques
      • Reducing an ‘emotion mind’
      • Encouraging positive emotional events
  4. Distress Tolerance

    • Distress tolerance during DBT focusing on accepting and managing distress. Other forms of mental health treatment try to change distressing events. On the contrary, distress tolerance helps a person understand and accept the situation for what it is.
    • The person learns to accept these moments in a nonjudgemental and non-evaluative way. Accepting distress can be very effective in dealing with cases of addiction. Understanding that you have an addiction, and taking it at face value can make a big difference in the long run.

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy and Addiction 

Dialectical behavior therapy is a very effective tool for helping addicts deal with their emotions and cravings. While DBT alone will not be able to fully ‘cure’ addiction, it is very effective with other drug addiction treatment options. 

After taking the first step towards breaking free of addiction, it’s important to have the right frame of mind. To avoid relapses down the road and handle intense cravings, DBT allows the skills needed to cope with these urges and navigate the world around you. 

Other Treatment Options

Dialectical behavioral therapy is just one of the many treatment options for addiction. At Unity Behavioral Health, we provide a number of different options to complement DBT. With a passionate staff and a high-quality facility, Unity will be by your side every step of the way. 

Detoxification (Detox)

Detoxification is usually the first step towards addiction recovery. Detox rids the body of substances and alcohol. The primary goal of detox is to deter some of the harsh withdrawal symptoms of addiction. After detox, the individual can move on to therapy options like dialectical behavioral therapy for continued treatment.  

Inpatient Treatment (Residential Treatment)

Inpatient treatment offers intense care for those with moderate to severe cases of addiction. Inpatient treatment typically provides housing and access to medical professionals at all times. Dialectical behavioral therapy is just one of the many therapy options available at Unity Behavioral Health’s inpatient program.  

Outpatient Treatment

Outpatient treatment is similar to inpatient treatment but without the residential part of it. Outpatient treatment is more convenient and is great for moderate cases of addiction. If you have prior obligations at home, outpatient treatment allows for weekly visits. 

During these visits, you will have a selection of different treatment options which include counseling, support groups, and our current topic, dialectical behavioral therapy. Unity Behavioral Health is accommodating and ready to meet your needs towards recovery. 

Get Help Today!

If you are concerned that a loved one or someone you know is struggling with drug or alcohol addiction, Unity Behavioral Health may be able to help. Dialectical behavioral therapy is just one of the many treatment options we provide. Find out if DBT is right for you or a loved one today. 

Contact us or visit our website to learn more about our drug or alcohol addiction treatment options.

Get Help Now

Speak to one of our experienced and caring representatives at Unity Behavioral Health to learn about how our rehab programs can help your loved one defeat addiction.


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