The AToN Center is a luxurious addiction treatment facility in San Diego, California, providing world-class care for those suffering from addiction. We offer evidence-based, integrative, and comprehensive programming tailored to meet each client’s unique needs.
Our program includes Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), effective treatment for those struggling with addiction and co-occurring mental health disorders. DBT has decreased substance abuse in patients with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and other co-occurring disorders. It can also be effective in patients who haven’t responded to other evidence-based SUD therapies.
What is Dialectical Behavior Therapy?
DBT was initially developed to treat patients with BPD. However, it has since been effective in treating various conditions, including substance abuse. The therapy aims to help people learn how to regulate their emotions, control impulsive behaviors, and improve their relationships with others.
The key elements of DBT include:
Mindfulness is the practice of nonjudgmental awareness of the present moment. It means paying attention to one’s thoughts, emotions, and sensations without judging them as good or bad. The goal of mindfulness is to help one become more aware of their automatic thoughts and reactions. That way, they can eventually learn to control their thoughts and reactions.
Distress tolerance is the ability to tolerate difficult situations without making them worse. This may mean learning to accept reality as it is rather than one wants it to be. It may also involve finding ways to cope with pain healthily, such as deep breathing or journaling.
Interpersonal effectiveness is the ability to communicate effectively and set boundaries in relationships. This includes assertiveness, which is one’s ability to express needs respectfully while maintaining self-respect. It also involves being able to say “no” when necessary and knowing when to walk away from an unhealthy situation.
Emotion regulation is the ability to manage emotions healthily. This means:
Emotion regulation skills can be learned through DBT to help manage all emotions, including anger, sadness, anxiety, and joy.
DBT is also divided into four stages of treatment
Applications of DBT Therapy
Different clinical studies point to the effectiveness of DBT in treating borderline personality disorder. Those who get DBT treatments see improvements like:
Substance use disorders are common with BPD. A longitudinal study found that 62% of BPD patients met the criteria for a SUD at the beginning of the study. DBT therapy helps patients struggling with substance abuse and BPD. However, further research needs to be done to determine how effective DBT is for treating addiction alone.
DBT therapy has also effectively treated people who struggle to regulate and manage their emotions. It has proven to be effective for managing and treating a range of mental health conditions, including:
How We Use DBT Therapy at AToN
The central premise of DBT is that everyone has different “sides” to their personality. And therefore, it’s essential to find a balance between them. For example, one side may be impulsive and want to abuse drugs. While the other may be more rational and want to abstain. DBT helps clients find a middle ground between these two extremes.
Clients learn how to effectively regulate their emotions, deal with cravings, and avoid triggers through individual and group therapy, skills training, and exposure therapy. As a result, they can better abstain from substances and build a foundation for long-term recovery.
In individual DBT therapy sessions, patients will work one-on-one with a therapist to discuss their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Together, they will identify harmful behaviors and develop a plan to change them.
Group DBT therapy sessions allow patients to practice new skills with people going through similar experiences. These sessions typically involve role-playing exercises and discussing how to deal with difficult situations.
Phone coaching is another essential part of DBT. Patients can call their therapist when they feel triggered or struggle to cope. The therapist will help the patient identify their emotions and develop a plan to avoid using substances.
The result is breaking away from self-destructive behaviors and developing a more positive outlook on life.
Find Support with the AToN Center
At AToN Center, we understand how difficult it can be to live with a mental health or substance use disorder. Our goal is to provide patients with the tools and resources they need to manage their symptoms and live happy, healthy life.
If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction or mental health, we encourage you to reach out for help. Our admissions counselors are available 24/7 to answer your questions and guide you through the treatment process.