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Dialectical Behavioral Therapy For Drug And Alcohol Addiction


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Substance Abuse Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) is a unique type of therapy offered at Hotel California Sea to help clients cope with distressing thoughts and urges. Addiction experts apply this therapy in addiction treatment settings for combating mental health conditions that involve emotional dysregulation.

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy is a subtype of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. It draws many of its themes from the concept of mindfulness.

This world-renowned therapy helps addicts and alcoholics recover from a range of mental illnesses like depression, personality disorders, and more. By treating addiction with DBT, many clients learn useful coping skills to fight cravings and deal with uncomfortable emotions. The results of DBT can have a lasting effect on clients, and may increase their chances of staying sober.

When a client goes through our inpatient and outpatient treatment programs at Hotel California by the Sea, their therapist may recommend Substance Abuse Dialectical Behavioral Therapy to aid in their recovery from a Substance Use Disorder (SUD). So, it’s important to know what to expect from DBT at our Southern California inpatient rehab center.

Read on to learn about this highly effective treatment modality used by addiction experts at Hotel California by the Sea.


What Is DBT?

Researchers and clinical psychologists derived Dialectical Behavioral Therapy from its parent, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. This therapy focuses on two primary principles: acceptance and change.

Although these two concepts seem contradictory, they can help patients accept their situations and provide tangible tools to change unhealthy habits when combined in therapy.

Many people (addicts and non-addicts) develop maladaptive reactions to trivial events, either because of past traumas, fears, or skewed perceptions on typical life situations and circumstances. DBT helps people become aware of these misconceptions and abnormal reactions, and find the tools to cope with situations healthily.

As mentioned above, DBT also consists of mindfulness practices. By definition, the term “mindfulness” means being fully conscious and aware of one’s self. In DBT, this may translate into the “acceptance” part of therapy. Here, a client becomes fully cognizant of their current state of consciousness and can develop tangible solutions with their therapist.


“/ˈmīn(d)f(ə)lnəs/: a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.” Source:

Although the concept of mindfulness in DBT may sound simple, many of us are habitually disengaged from our thoughts and feelings throughout the day. This can also make us unaware of why we act (and react) the way we do to certain stimuli.

We may spend ample time watching TV, playing with our phones, or worrying about the future. People suffering from addiction become especially disengaged with themselves, their thoughts, and their emotions, by using drugs and alcohol.

Therapists who practice DBT generally believe that if a client can become aware of their emotions, they make permanent personality changes.

Substance Abuse Dialectical Behavioral Therapy can help someone with drug and alcohol cravings, suicidal thoughts, and much more.

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy at Hotel California by the Sea

At Hotel California by the Sea, we prefer a multifaceted and dynamic approach to addiction. Here, each client can receive the unique treatment that they need to stay sober, depending on their particular afflictions.

Hotel California by the Sea incorporates Substance Abuse Dialectical Behavioral Therapy in many of our clients’ treatment plans. DBT is an evidence-based treatment method with a significant record of efficacy for treating certain mental illnesses.

Addicts and alcoholics frequently feel the need to escape from their emotions. This unique form of therapy helps clients tame their emotions. We want our clients to feel in control of their feelings and actions – not the other way around!

At HCBTS, Substance Abuse Dialectical Behavioral Therapy is individualized and personal therapy. No DBT session is the same.
A client’s treatment goals depend on the discussions and agreements between themselves and their therapist.

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy isn’t usually isn’t the only treatment that a client will use in their recovery at Hotel California by the Sea.
Just as every other component of drug addiction treatment programs, DBT works best in conjunction with other addiction treatment modalities, like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, group therapy, 12-step groups, and sometimes medication.

Individual DBT sessions between a client and therapist normally last anywhere from 30-60 minutes, depending on the client, therapist, and treatment goals.

What Does Substance Abuse
Dialectical Behavioral Therapy Treat?

Substance Abuse Dialectical Behavioral Therapy is especially helpful for certain types of psychological conditions that involve significant emotional dysregulation. DBT targets patients who have hard-to-treat conditions and have seen little success with other therapies.

According to WebMD, DBT “was initially designed to treat people with suicidal behavior and borderline personality disorder. But it has been adapted for other mental health problems that threaten a person’s safety, relationships, work, and emotional well-being.”

For example, those that suffer from bipolar disorder and other co-occurring disorders alongside drug and alcohol abuse will likely benefit from participating in DBT. Now, many researchers even think it helps binge eating and ADHD.

Be aware that, in the beginning of recovery from drug or alcohol addiction, emotional dysregulation is normal. When someone first gets sober, their brain is slowly trying to reach a new “normal” after significant drug or alcohol use.

A balanced brain takes time after significant drug or alcohol use. However, some co-occurring mental illnesses cause additional difficulty with emotion regulation, like bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder. Hotel California is approved to treat addiction and all co-occurring mental health conditions.


Goals of DBT

Substance Abuse Dialectical Behavioral Therapy therapists at Hotel California by the Sea use a number of different tools in sessions. Although each therapist and client is unique, it is possible that in a session, the therapist may work with their client to:

  • Teach them tangible coping skills that will assist in their recovery from addiction and co-occurring mental disorders
  • Help them regulate their emotions and moods
  • Improve self-image and confidence issues
  • Work through relationship problems
  • Regulate unhealthy or self-destructive behavior

Results of Dialectical Behavioral Therapy

Someone who finds success in DBT may discover that they have an improved ability to cope with uncomfortable emotions and take power away from their unhealthy thoughts.

After many sessions of Substance Abuse Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, a client may experience less:

  • Suicidal behavior
  • Relationship problems
  • Negative self-image or poor self-esteem
  • Anger
  • Social anxiety

Besides DBT, Hotel California by the Sea also offers other therapies including:

Depending on a client’s individual history, they may need one or many of these therapies combined.


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The road to recovery is full of uncertainty, leave your worries behind…
Our compassionate staff will answer all of your questions without any pressure. Learn about our evidence-based drug addiction treatment and rehab, the ease of entering our program, and the benefits of getting help from a reputable addiction treatment facility like Hotel California by the Sea.

Every member of our admissions team has been where you are today – be sure to ask them about their journey!