Last Updated on by
Who hasn’t remembered a difficult situation they faced in life, and realized after the fact that their response to it only made matters worse?
Or the opposite scenario, which is gazing into the unknown future and feeling anxiety and fear over a situation that hasn’t even occurred yet?
Author, Randy Pausch, writes, “No matter how bad things are, you can always make them worse.”
An over abundance of stress is toxic to mental health and well-being. Research shows that people who grew up in dysfunctional households are four times more likely to be living with substance abuse and dependency issues.
Unfortunately, over 8.9 million Americans suffering from addiction are also coping with a mental health issue, such as depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia or anxiety.
The core of Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is learning to cope with emotional pain.
Originally developed to treat people with borderline personality disorder, it is a very effective non 12 step recovery solution for treating substance abuse combined with mental health conditions, as well.
These co-occurring problems are called a dual diagnosis because there are two conditions at play together – substance addiction and a mental health issue – and both need to be treated simultaneously.
The 4 DBT Skills for Dealing with Stress
A blend of stress, depression and addiction will send anyone into an emotional and physical tailspin. The focus of Dialectical Behavior Therapy is learning four key techniques to reduce the pressure that we all face in our daily lives.
Simply put, Mindfulness is the practice of learning to live in the present moment.
Staying in tune with the here and now relieves the stress of a painful past.
Being focused on the task at hand will also alleviate fear or anxiety about the future.
2. Regulating Emotions
Regulating Emotions is a powerful technique to help reduce the intensity of emotional pain.
When you can’t change your emotions, you develop the ability to endure these feelings, without resorting to destructive behaviors, until they pass.
3. Distress Tolerance
Distress Tolerance is a skill that teaches people how to defuse potentially stressful or painful situations they might find themselves in.
Over time, this means that people will experience a crisis less and less, which results in better overall health.
4. Interpersonal Effectiveness
Once a person learns to set their own boundaries and clearly express their needs, they find that their personal and professional relationships improve, creating less friction in their lives.
Interpersonal Effectiveness helps people create these boundaries and better communicate their needs.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy is incredibly effective because once learned, these skills can be used for a lifetime. This is why so many people with co-occurring addiction and mental health issues seek this treatment out.
Achieving Balance: DBT And Substance Abuse Treatment
Science has proven that addiction affects the brain’s chemistry, and has rightly categorized it as a disease.
The combination of Dialectical Behavior Therapy combines with proper medical treatment for addiction and mental health issues has proven to be very successful for recovery.
The proper medications, prescribed by a physician certified in addiction medicine, help patients balance the chemicals in their brain.
This leads to clearer thoughts and feelings, and the ability to absorb the full benefit of DBT.
Life will always present us with stress. There’s no getting around it.
Practicing the four key aspects of Dialectical Behavior Therapy, though, can free us of dealing with that pressure in a negative way.
We learn to solve the problems as they arrive, deal with the emotions until they pass and remain sober, satisfied and healthy.