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Dialectical Behavior Therapy for Substance Abusers

Dialectical Behavior Therapy for Substance Abusers

  1. BitterSweet
    Linda A. Dimeff, Ph.D.1, Marsha M. Linehan, Ph.D.2
    Behavioral Tech Research, Inc. Seattle, Washington
    Department of Psychology, University of Washington

    Abstract
    Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is a well-established treatment for individuals with multiple and severe psychosocial disorders, including those who are chronically suicidal. Because many such patients have substance use disorders (SUDs), the authors developed DBT for Substance Abusers, which incorporates concepts and modalities designed to promote abstinence and to reduce the length and adverse impact of relapses. Among these are dialectical abstinence, “clear mind,” and attachment
    strategies that include off-site counseling as well as active attempts to find patients who miss sessions.

    Several randomized clinical trials have found that DBT for Substance Abusers decreased substance abuse in patients with borderline personality disorder. The treatment also may be helpful for patients who have other severe disorders co-occurring with SUDs or who have not responded to other evidence-based SUD therapies.