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Author: Shernide Delva
Recently, a form of therapy has garnered massive media attention. It is known as Dialectical Behavioral Therapy or DBT. Even Selena Gomez said it changed her life. Around August of last year, Gomez abruptly ended her Revival tour to recover from “anxiety, panic attacks, and depression,” she states was a result of her lupus condition. She says DBT specifically, allowed her to relearn the coping tools she desperately needed.
But what is DBT?
Dialectical behavioral therapy is a type of cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy used to treat multiple types of mental health disorders. The theory behind the approach is that certain people are prone to react in an intense manner toward certain emotional situations, primarily those found in romantic, family or friend relationships. Often, DBT is used to treat patients with borderline personality disorder or bipolar disorder.
DBT suggests certain people have a higher sensitivity to emotional stimuli. Their emotions tend to spike more quickly than the average person. Because of this, it takes time for them to recover emotionally after experiencing these spikes in emotions.
For example, people with borderline personality disorder struggle with extreme swings in their emotions. They see the world in black-and-white shades, and always jump from one crisis to another. Those around them do not understand their reactions, so this isolates their behavior even more. They lack the coping strategies of dealing with their high surges in emotion. That’s where DBT comes in. DBT teaches them to handle their emotions better.
DBT in three formats:
DBT focuses on helping a person identify their strengths and build on them so they can feel better about themselves and their future.
DBT helps with identifying the thoughts, beliefs, and assumptions that make life harder. For example, the need for perfectionism is a common theme in many people’s lives. The need to be perfect may prevent someone from succeeding entirely. Therefore, DBT helps people acquire new ways of thinking that makes life more bearable. Another common emotion is anger. A person may feel if they get angry, it is their fault, and they are a horrible person. DBT teaches that anger is a natural human emotion.
DBT works in a collaborative environment. Patients are encouraged to work out any relationship conflicts they may have with their therapist and therapists are told to do the same. DBT asks patients to complete homework assignments, role-play and practice coping skills. Then, the individual therapist works one-on-one with the patient to help them master their DBT skills.
Typically, dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) has two main components:
Individual weekly psychotherapy sessions:
These emphasize problem-solving behaviors for the past week’s issues and troubles that arose in a person’s life. Any self-injurious or suicidal behaviors take priority, followed by any problems that could interfere with the therapy process. The weekly sessions in DBT focus on decreasing and dealing with post-traumatic stress response from previous trauma and helping a person enhance their self-worth.
Weekly group therapy sessions:
A trained DBT therapist will lead sessions where people learn skills related to interpersonal effectiveness, distress tolerance/reality acceptance skills, emotion regulation, and mindfulness skills.
The Four Modules of Dialectical Behavior Therapy
Furthermore, there are four modules of dialectical behavioral therapy. They focus on:
Individuals who are suicidal or borderline struggle with emotional intensity. They benefit in learning how to regulate their emotions. Furthermore, DBT teaches skills for emotional regulation such as:
- Identifying and labeling emotions
- Identifying obstacles to changing emotions
- Reducing vulnerability to “emotion mind.”
- Increasing positive emotional events
- Increasing mindfulness to current emotions
- Taking opposite action
Lastly, this area approaches mental health by changing distressing events and circumstances. Individuals learn to bear pain skillfully. They learn to accept themselves and the current situation. While the focus is on nonjudgmental thinking, this does not mean they must approve of the reality: “Acceptance of reality is not approval of reality.”
This principle focuses on asking what one needs and learning to say no. It also emphasizes coping with interpersonal conflict. Those with borderline personality disorder usually have good interpersonal skills. They may lack the skills necessary for generating or analyzing their personal circumstances. This part of DBT focuses on applying coping skills in their particular situation.
In DBT, patients learn the core principles of mindfulness. The focus is on emphasizing what tasks are necessary to practice core mindfulness skills. Furthermore, this area concentrates on the “how” skills and allows the individual to incorporate mindfulness into their daily lives.
Therapy is an essential tool in early recovery. Whether you are struggling with addiction or mental illness, it is crucial to take the first step in transforming your life. Do not feel ashamed if you are currently battling a mental illness or addiction. Instead, take charge of your life by seeking the assistance of professionals. We are waiting for your call. Do not wait. Call today.
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Addiction and Borderline Personality Disorder: Dual Diagnosis
As an individual in recovery, I am familiar with the emotional and psychological turmoil invoked by active addiction. I personally recall times it felt as though I should be dual diagnosed, and it may be difficult to differentiate the symptoms of withdraw and the chemical effects of drugs and/or alcohol on the brain, and a possible condition that is debilitating in itself. Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is a serious mental illness marked by unstable moods, behavior, and relationships. This often misunderstood illness distorts the individual’s self-perception and interferes with their ability to maintain stable and healthy relationships with others. Those who suffer from BPD are seen as highly manipulative, dependent and dramatic. Ironic seeming as how these are all traits most often attributed to an addict. Mental health professionals have determined that this behavior grows and develops as a dysfunctional way to cope with overwhelming fear and emotional pain, the same is commonly referred to as the root causes of drug use. The pain, emotional instability, and impulsive behavior of addiction and borderline personality disorder place an individual at an even greater risk of drug or alcohol abuse, and in most cases someone who suffers from BPD will engage in self-mutilating or suicidal behavior to overcome intense emotional emptiness. In this and a few other ways, addiction and borderline personality disorder are similar distortions of an individual’s negative self-reflection.
Addiction and Borderline Personality Disorder: Estimated Origins
The origins of Borderline Personality Disorder have not yet been determined, but there are several theories as to how this complicated and underestimated personality disorder cultivates. Even more interesting is how some of these theories are similar to the theories as to the origins of drug use. Here are a few examples:
- A dysfunctional family environment. Children who grow up in families where they feel emotionally neglected or abandoned are more likely to develop BPD as adults. The trauma of physical or sexual abuse may also contribute to borderline personality disorder.
- Hereditary factors. BPD and other personality disorders are often seen in close family members, such as parents and their children or siblings. This indicates that certain individuals may have a genetic predisposition to BPD.
- Neurological factors. The impulsivity, emotional instability and unpredictable behavior of BPD may be caused by abnormalities in the areas of the brain that control mood, behavior and emotions.
- Brain chemistry. BPD may be linked to imbalances in certain neurotransmitters, naturally produced chemicals like serotonin that affect the way you feel and behave. People with BPD may not process these chemicals normally.
Addiction and Borderline Personality Disorder: Environment
Personally I find it not too surprising that factors such as the Family Environment and Brain Chemistry are considered as things most likely to create this condition. Much research has been done trying to decide if there is a direct connection between these issues and drug addiction and other forms of self-destructive coping habits. Many individuals who struggle with drug or alcohol abuse come from households that thrive in addictive and destructive behaviors. All this only further complicates the process of treating BPD and addiction simultaneously; the similarities between addiction and borderline personality disorder make even a properly informed diagnosis difficult. Treatment is particularly challenging in the case of BPD where the individual’s anti-social and manipulative tendencies make the person suffering more difficult to work with, and it can make the person themselves begin to doubt the effectiveness of any source of treatment.
Addiction and Borderline Personality Disorder: Making the Connection
Treating addiction and borderline personality disorder together is inevitably challenging. Those who struggle with BPD can sometimes make unrealistic demands of their therapists and clinical staff, and require constant contact with their treatment team and support groups. They may appear needy and desperately dependent based on their tendency to search for caretakers and outside influences to protect their sanity and satisfy their emotional desires. To make treatment increasingly difficult, Borderline Personality Disorder can turn a patient against the same caretakers they so strongly rely on, turning them into hostile and paranoid combatants without any probable reasoning. Understanding and properly attending to the emotional portrait and weaknesses of BPD is a must for professionals who treat drug abuse with this powerful psychiatric illness.
Addiction and Borderline Personality Disorder: Treatment
One of the most effective and well-rounded approaches to treating both addiction and borderline personality disorder is what is referred to as Dialectical Behavior Therapy, or DBT. Based on the principle that change can be constructively balanced with self-acceptance and motivation, DBT helps individuals with severe psychiatric disorders build meaningful, stable lives while building new defenses against their addictions and harmful behaviors. This system has been used effectively to help self-destructive, emotionally unstable patients learn how to regulate their emotions and inspire themselves to change their coping mechanisms, even under the most difficult of circumstances, and turn vulnerabilities to resounding victories in healthy and supportive environments.
If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction and borderline personality disorder and is seeking treatment, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
When it comes to treating addiction and Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) simultaneously, the similarities between addiction and BPD can make a correct diagnosis tough. At Palm Partners, we are able to treat Addiction and Borderline Personality Disorder because we are a dual-diagnosis treatment facility. Borderline personality disorder is known by a few characteristics that are also frequently seen in someone with an addiction. The characteristics of borderline personality disorder are someone who is extremely manipulative, dramatic and needy. There is more to borderline personality disorder though.
This kind of behavior stems from a way to cope with overpowering fear and emotional pain. The emotional insecurity and pain along with impulsive behaviors put someone with BPD at a high risk for addiction or can be confused with addiction and in some situations where both are obvious, worsen the symptoms.
Addiction and Borderline Personality Disorder: Diagnosis
When addiction and borderline personality disorder correspond with each other it can be really tough to treat. The resemblances between addiction and borderline personality disorder can make a proper diagnosis practically impossible. When addiction and borderline personality disorder overlap, the symptoms are very much the same, both are characterized by: impulsive and self-destructive behaviors, mood swings, manipulative and deceitful actions, lack of concern for one’s own safety and health, insistence on chasing dangerous behavior, suicidal behavior, depression, paranoia, and instability in jobs, finances and relationships.
Since the characteristics between addiction and borderline personality disorder are so alike, it shows you that it is really important that an individual with drug addiction try to find a dual diagnosis program. In dual diagnosis programs they can successfully diagnose between mental illness and drug abuse.
Addiction and Borderline Personality Disorder: Treatment
Treating addiction and borderline personality disorder is very well-known amongst mental health professionals as being challenging. Clients with addiction and borderline personality disorder frequently will make impractical demands of their therapists and will most likely need continuous contact with their treatment team. An individual with an addiction and BPD might come off as reliant on others because they are often searching for caretakers who can satisfy their emotional needs. They can also be the exact opposite and rebel against their caretakers and become aggressive, angry and paranoid for no reason. This is specifically true of someone with a borderline personality disorder and the addiction just intensifies it.
Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) is one of the most effective ways to approach addiction and borderline personality disorder. DBT is centered on the belief that change can be balanced with self-acceptance. DBT assists individuals with severe psychiatric disorder in creating significant and established lives. This is particularly imperative in someone with an addiction and borderline personality disorder because when someone has an addiction it may appear that they have a mental illness when they really don’t; so using medication to treat mental health issues could be unsafe for someone who has an addiction. While waiting for an addict to recover from their addiction somewhat it is best to use some kind of therapy until an accurate diagnosis can be determined. This makes DBT perfect for someone with addiction and borderline personality disorder. DBT is presented at most drug and alcohol treatment centers including Palm Partners. Some of the benefits of a dual diagnosis program that offers DBT for addiction and borderline personality disorder are: it helps the client find motivation to make changes in their life, it teaches the client to manage moods and handle triggers, it eliminates environmental cues and social situations that promote alcohol or drug abuse, it reduces cravings, it helps the client achieve recovery goals and clients are able to identify and purse self-affirmative activities that help them connect with others. If you or a loved one are struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll free 1-800-951-6135.
Borderline personality disorder is recognized by a few characteristics that are also commonly seen in someone with an addiction. The characteristics of borderline personality disorder are someone who is highly manipulative, dependent, and dramatic. There is more to borderline personality disorder though.
Mental health professionals know that this kind of behavior stems from a way to cope with overwhelming fear and emotional pain, even if it is dysfunctional. The pain and emotional instability as well as impulsive behavior put someone with a borderline personality disorder at a high risk for addiction or can be confused with addiction and in some cases where both are apparent, aggravate the symptoms.
Addiction and borderline personality disorder are hard to diagnose
When addiction and borderline personality disorder overlap it can be really hard to treat. The similarities between addiction and borderline personality disorder can make a proper diagnosis nearly impossible. Here are some examples of when addiction and borderline personality disorder overlap.
- Both are characterized by impulsive, self-destructive behaviors.
- Both may be characterized by mood swings ranging from severe depression to manic periods of intense energy.
- Both may be characterized by manipulative, deceitful actions.
- Both may be characterized by a lack of concern for one’s own health and safety and an insistence on pursuing dangerous behavior in spite of the risks.
- Both are often characterized by a pattern of instability in relationships, jobs and finances.
Suicidal behavior, moodiness, depression and paranoia are all symptoms commonly associated with drug and alcohol addiction as well as borderline personality disorder also. This is why it is really important that someone with a drug addiction try to find a dual diagnosis program that can successfully diagnose between mental illness and drug abuse.
So how do you treat addiction and borderline personality disorder?
Treating addiction and borderline personality disorder is notoriously known among mental health professionals as being difficult. Clients with addiction and borderline personality disorder often times will make unrealistic demands of their therapists and will most likely require constant contact with their treatment team. Someone with an addiction and borderline personality disorder may come off as dependent because they are often times searching for caretakers who can fulfill their emotional need. Or they can be the exact opposite and fight against their “care takers”; becoming hostile, paranoid and angry for no reason. This is especially true of someone with a borderline personality disorder and the addiction just heightens it.
One of the most successful ways to approach addiction and borderline personality disorder is Dialectical Behavioral Therapy or DBT. DBT is based on the principle that change can be balanced with self-acceptance. DBT helps individuals with severe psychiatric disorder build meaningful and stable lives. This is especially important in someone with an addiction and borderline personality disorder. Why? When someone has an addiction it may seem as if they have a mental illness when they really don’t so using medication to treatment mental health issues could be dangerous for someone who has an addiction. Until an addict recovers somewhat it is best to use some kind of psychotherapy until a proper diagnosis can be determined. This is part of the reason DBT is so great for someone with an addiction and a borderline personality disorder. DBT is offered at most drug and alcohol treatment centers including Palm Partners. Here are some benefits of a dual diagnosis program that offers DBT for addiction and borderline personality disorder:
- Helping the client find the motivation to make significant changes in her life
- Teaching the client to manage moods and handle triggers through practical skills like mindfulness training
- Eliminating the environmental cues and social connections that promote substance abuse
- Reducing the craving to drink or abuse drugs
- Identifying and pursuing meaningful, self-affirming activities that provide a sense of connection to others
- Helping the client achieve set and achieve manageable recovery goals, like staying sober for 24 hours at a time
If you or your loved one is in need of treatment for alcohol or drug addiction please give us a call at 800-821-9584.