Dialectical Therapy Versus Cognitive Behavioral Therapy- Which is Best for Substance Abuse Treatment

The field of psychology and psychotherapy has provided those suffering from a substance abuse disorder with a plethora of therapeutic techniques designed to treat the underlying psychological issues which have led to their addiction. Two such therapies are Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). Both of these therapeutic techniques are used in the treatment of patients with substance abuse disorders, sometimes alongside each other depending on the individual’s specific disease and underlying issues. Here is a brief overview of each therapeutic technique and the use cases for which it is most effective.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is used to treat a variety of mental health issues including substance abuse disorders. The goal of this particular style of talk therapy is to help the patient become aware of negative or inaccurate thoughts related to difficult situations and obstacles in their lives, and to shift these thought patterns to a more positive and productive style. This process is facilitated by the patient talking with the therapist about any scenarios or circumstances which are preoccupying their mind, and expressing their thoughts and opinions about these situations. Once the patient is aware of the negativity of their thought patterns, they can begin adjusting their thinking and “retraining their brain” to form more positive and healthy thoughts about the circumstances in their lives.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy can be considered a more specialized style of CBT, as it is geared towards addressing a patient’s tendency to react to situations with intense emotions and unusual, often negative responses. DBT attempts to correct this emotional volatility by imparting four skills patients should practice in their daily lives: mindfulness, interpersonal effectiveness, distress tolerance, and emotion regulation. These skills are taught during individual and group therapy sessions, with opportunity for patients to discuss events in their recent past, their reactions to them, and potential improved responses to those events. Ultimately, patients should be more able to avoid extreme emotional responses to events in their lives and interact with others in a more healthy, productive fashion upon completing DBT.

Treatment for substance abuse disorders should incorporate a variety of therapeutic techniques designed to address all facets of a person’s addiction. Two such techniques designed to modulate irregular thought patterns and emotions are cognitive behavioral therapy and dialectical behavior therapy. Both of these therapies could prove beneficial to you, especially if you find negative thinking and extreme emotional responses to be part of your normal life during your active addiction. At Evolutions, we have incorporated both of these behavioral therapies into our treatment program. If you are looking to receive treatment for a substance abuse disorder and feel you would benefit from these treatment modalities, call our Admissions Counselors today at 833-818-3031 so we may begin the admission process and provide you the healing you need to recover from addiction!


Evolutions is a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center located in beautiful South Florida. Our holistic approach to addiction treatment centers around addressing and healing the underlying issues at the root of addiction, rather than merely medicating symptoms away.

Our treatment program includes individual and group-based therapy to help clients understand and manage their symptoms and emotions.

If you or a loved one is suffering from addiction, alcoholism, or any co-occurring disorders please call us at (833) 818-3031 or visit www.evolutionstreatment.com