Dialectical Behavior Therapy in Addiction

Harnessing Dialectical Behavior Therapy in Addiction Treatment

Learn more about the benefits of dialectical behavior therapy in addiction treatment at Mile High Recovery Center.

Find Healing in Denver, CO

Mile High Recovery Center (MHRC) is dedicated to offering comprehensive addiction and mental health treatment in Denver, Colorado. With a deep commitment to helping people overcome their struggles, our center provides a range of services designed to support lasting recovery.

One of the specialized treatment approaches at Mile High Recovery Center is dialectical behavior therapy (DBT).

Recognized for its effectiveness, DBT plays a crucial role in MHRC’s addiction treatment programs. By integrating dialectical behavior therapy in addiction treatment, we ensure that clients receive the most advanced and compassionate care available.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy in Addiction

Understanding Dialectical Behavior Therapy in Addiction Recovery

DBT is an evidence-based form of psychotherapy. It was originally developed to treat borderline personality disorder. But, research has shown its effectiveness in treating a range of mental health conditions, including addiction.

DBT focuses on equipping people with four core skills:1
  1. Mindfulness: Learning to be present in the moment and observe thoughts and emotions without judgment.
  2. Emotion regulation: Developing healthy ways to manage intense emotions and distress, preventing them from leading to substance misuse.
  3. Interpersonal effectiveness: Improving communication and relationship skills to build healthier connections with others. 
  4. Distress tolerance: Learning to tolerate uncomfortable emotions and situations without resorting to substance use.

Benefits of DBT

Dialectical behavior therapy in addiction treatment addresses the underlying emotional dysregulation and interpersonal difficulties often associated with substance use.

Many people struggling with addiction use drugs or alcohol as a way to cope with difficult emotions or challenging relationships.2
DBT equips them with healthier coping mechanisms. This reduces their reliance on substances and builds a foundation for long-term recovery. 

Core Modules of DBT in Addiction Treatment

Dialectical behavior therapy in addiction treatment relies on four core modules that equip people with essential skills for recovery.
Let’s explore each module and how it contributes to overcoming addiction:


Mindfulness practices teach people to focus on the present moment without judgment. They learn to observe their thoughts and feelings without getting caught up in them.
By developing mindfulness skills, those in recovery can become more aware of triggers that might lead to substance use. This allows them to make conscious choices about their behavior.

Distress Tolerance

Distress tolerance focuses on developing healthy ways to cope with difficult emotions and situations without resorting to drugs or alcohol.
Clients learn skills like:
  • Distraction techniques
  • Self-soothing strategies
  • Crisis management planning  
These skills empower them to navigate challenging moments without turning to substance use as a coping mechanism.

Emotion Regulation

Emotion regulation teaches people how to identify, understand, and manage their emotions in a healthy way. They learn to recognize early warning signs of emotional distress and develop effective strategies to regulate their emotions before they become overwhelming.
Effective emotion regulation skills are crucial in preventing relapse triggered by strong emotions. Research shows that these skills appear to double the ability to avoid relapse.3

Interpersonal Effectiveness

Interpersonal effectiveness focuses on developing healthy communication and relationship skills.
People learn how to:
  • Ask for what they need assertively
  • Set boundaries
  • Navigate conflict effectively
Stronger interpersonal skills allow those in recovery to build healthier relationships. This provides essential support during their journey.

Importance of Practicing DBT’s Core Skills

By including these core skills, dialectical behavior therapy in addiction treatment provides people with a comprehensive toolbox for managing emotions, navigating relationships, and preventing relapse.

This holistic approach fosters:
  • Self-awareness
  • Emotional control
  • Healthy coping mechanisms
Dialectical behavior therapy in addiction treatment paves the way for long-term recovery.

Application of DBT in Addiction Treatment at Mile High Recovery Center

Mile High Recovery Center recognizes the power of dialectical behavior therapy in addiction treatment and integrates it seamlessly into our treatment programs.
Here’s how DBT at MHRC empowers clients on their recovery journey:

Individual Therapy Sessions

Clients work closely with therapists trained in DBT to explore the underlying causes of their addiction and develop personalized treatment plans. These sessions provide a safe space to practice DBT skills and receive ongoing support.

Skills Groups

Clients take part in group sessions specifically designed to teach and reinforce the four core DBT modules.
Through interactive exercises, discussions, and role-playing scenarios, they learn:
  • Mindfulness exercises
  • Emotion regulation strategies
  • Communication skills
  • Healthy coping mechanisms

Phone Coaching

For added support between sessions, clients can access phone coaching with DBT-trained professionals. This allows them to practice DBT skills in real-time situations. They can also receive guidance on applying these skills to overcome challenges as they arise.

DBT Techniques

Mile High Recovery Center utilizes a variety of DBT techniques to give people the tools they need for lasting recovery.
These techniques may include:
  • Mindfulness exercises: Practicing meditation, mindful breathing, and other techniques to enhance present-moment awareness and emotional regulation.
  • Emotion regulation strategies: Identifying emotional triggers, learning to name and validate emotions, and practicing healthy coping mechanisms to manage difficult emotions effectively. 
  • Role-playing scenarios: Simulating real-life situations that may lead to cravings or relapse to practice assertive communication, setting boundaries, and resisting urges in a safe and controlled environment.
By including these evidence-based practices, Mile High Recovery Center’s dialectical behavior therapy in addiction treatment program empowers clients to develop essential life skills, build resilience, and achieve lasting sobriety. 

Targeting Cravings and Impulse Control with DBT

Dialectical behavior therapy in addiction treatment provides powerful tools to manage cravings and urges, a significant challenge in overcoming addiction.
Here’s how DBT helps clients navigate these obstacles:
  • Recognizing cravings: Through mindfulness skills, clients learn to identify early warning signs of cravings, like physical sensations or emotional shifts. This awareness allows them to anticipate and respond proactively rather than reacting impulsively.
  • Coping with urges: DBT teaches valuable skills for managing urges without resorting to substance use. Techniques like distress tolerance strategies, such as distraction or self-soothing activities, can help people ride out cravings until they pass naturally.
  • Radical acceptance: This DBT concept encourages accepting the presence of cravings without judgment. By acknowledging cravings as a natural part of the recovery process, clients can detach from the urge to act on it. 
  • Pros and cons lists: DBT utilizes pros and cons lists to help people weigh the long-term consequences of giving in to cravings against the temporary relief it might offer. This rational approach can strengthen their resolve to stay sober.
Clients gain the strength to resist cravings and make conscious choices that support recovery by developing these skills through dialectical behavior therapy in addiction treatment. This empowers them to manage triggers and high-risk situations with greater control.

Enhancing Interpersonal Relationships with DBT

Addiction can often strain relationships with loved ones. Dialectical behavior therapy in addiction treatment addresses this concern by equipping people with skills to build and maintain healthy connections.
Here’s how DBT fosters positive relationships:

Communication Skills

DBT teaches people assertive communication techniques. They learn to express their needs and wants clearly and confidently while also respecting the needs of others. This promotes open and honest communication, fostering stronger relationships.

Setting Boundaries

Healthy boundaries are essential in addiction recovery. Through dialectical behavior therapy in addiction treatment, clients learn to identify and establish healthy boundaries in their relationships. This empowers them to say “no” to situations or requests that could jeopardize their recovery.


DBT skills encourage clients to develop empathy and understand the perspectives of others. This fosters greater understanding and strengthens relationships with loved ones who may be frustrated or concerned about the addiction.

Conflict Resolution

Dialectical behavior therapy in addiction treatment teaches people the skills to navigate conflict effectively.
They learn to:
  • Approach disagreements calmly
  • Listen actively
  • Problem-solve collaboratively
These skills promote healthier conflict resolution, preventing strained relationships. Clients can rebuild trust and navigate relationships with greater confidence by developing these interpersonal skills through dialectical behavior therapy in addiction treatment.

Coping with Co-Occurring Disorders with DBT

Many people struggling with addiction also have a mental health disorder like anxiety or depression. This is called a co-occurring disorder. Dialectical behavior therapy in addiction treatment is particularly helpful because it can be adapted to address these co-occurring conditions.4
For example, someone with borderline personality disorder (BPD) might struggle with intense emotions and unstable relationships. DBT can teach them skills to manage those emotions in a healthy way and learn ways to manage their emotions without resorting to substance use.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment at MHRC

Mile High Recovery Center understands the complexity of co-occurring disorders. That is why we use an integrated approach, combining DBT with other therapy methods to create a personalized treatment plan.
This might include:
By addressing both the addiction and the mental health disorder, Mile High Recovery Center helps clients achieve a more complete recovery. 

Building a Life Worth Living with Dialectical Behavior Therapy

Dialectical behavior therapy in addiction treatment goes beyond simply stopping substance use. The ultimate goal is to help people build a fulfilling and meaningful life free from addiction.
This program empowers them to:
  • Develop healthy coping mechanisms: DBT equips people with tools to manage stress, emotions, and cravings in a healthy way, reducing their reliance on substances.
  • Improve relationships: By fostering better communication and conflict resolution skills, DBT strengthens relationships with loved ones, providing a strong support system for recovery.
  • Increase self-esteem: DBT helps people develop self-acceptance and a sense of self-worth, boosting their confidence and motivation to maintain sobriety.
Therapists acknowledge the challenges of addiction while celebrating each step forward. This supportive environment fosters empowerment and self-efficacy, allowing clients to believe in their ability to achieve lasting recovery and build a life worth living.

Integrating Holistic Approaches with DBT

Dialectical behavior therapy in addiction treatment is even more powerful when combined with holistic therapies offered at Mile High Recovery Center.
These approaches focus on well-being through:
  • Promoting a sense of calm
  • Reducing stress
  • Fostering self-care
All of these approaches also support the principles of DBT.

Mindfulness and Meditation

These practices are already emphasized in DBT. They are further enhanced through dedicated sessions at Mile High Recovery Center. Learning to focus on the present moment helps clients manage their cravings and develop emotional awareness.

Yoga and Exercise

Yoga combines physical movement with mindfulness to strengthen both the body and mind. Yoga helps to:5
  • Improve flexibility
  • Reduce stress
  • Enhance emotional regulation 
These are all important for maintaining sobriety. Yoga sessions at Mile High Recovery Center provide clients with a healthy way to manage their emotions and reduce cravings.

Equine Therapy

This unique therapy involves interacting with horses, which can be very therapeutic. Working with these animals helps clients:6
  • Build trust
  • Improve communication
  • Develop empathy 
These skills are crucial for repairing and strengthening relationships, an important aspect of DBT.

Recreational Therapy

Engaging in enjoyable activities like art therapy or music therapy provides a healthy outlet for emotions. These activities can also promote relaxation. Recreation therapy can also be used to practice mindfulness and build social connections.

Outdoor Adventure Therapy

Outdoor adventure therapy engages clients in activities like rock climbing, kayaking, and camping. These adventures build:

  • Resilience
  • Teamwork
  • Self-confidence
Experiencing the natural environment also provides a sense of peace and clarity, which supports emotional and mental well-being.7

Importance of Integrating Holistic Approaches

By integrating these holistic approaches with dialectical behavior therapy in addiction treatment, Mile High Recovery Center creates a well-rounded treatment program that addresses the physical, mental, and emotional aspects of addiction.
This approach fosters a deep and lasting recovery, empowering people to build a healthy and fulfilling life.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy in Addiction

Embracing Change Through DBT

Dialectical behavior therapy in addiction treatment offers a powerful and effective approach to overcoming substance use at Mile High Recovery Center. Our programs equip clients with the skills they need to manage emotions, navigate relationships, and resist cravings.

Skills Learned Through DBT

Through DBT at Mile High Recovery Center, you will learn valuable skills like:
  • Mindfulness to stay present and manage cravings
  • Distress tolerance to cope with difficult emotions without resorting to substances
  • Emotion regulation to understand and manage your emotions effectively
  • Interpersonal effectiveness to build healthy and supportive relationships
Dialectical behavior therapy in addiction treatment goes beyond just stopping substance use. It empowers you to build a fulfilling life you deserve.

Contact Mile High Recovery Center Today

If you’re seeking evidence-based and holistic treatment for addiction recovery, explore the DBT-based programs offered at Mile High Recovery Center. Take the first step toward a brighter future – contact us today at 303-268-2144 or reach out online.

Table of Contents

Reach Out Today to See How Mile High Recovery Center Can Help You Heal

If you or a loved one are ready to regain autonomy over your lives and well-being, recovery starts here. Let us guide you toward sustainable wellness and sobriety through our personalized treatment plans tailored to your unique needs and experiences. We look forward to hearing from you!