Addictions & DBT


We all like to believe that we are people who follow logic. We like to think that we live our lives based on rational understanding of what to do and what to avoid. It’s therefore shocking and embarrassing when we observe ourselves acting in ways that defy logic and common sense. We feel as though we are under the control of an all powerful force that compels us engage in activities that any ‘normal’ person would never do. We try (and try) to stop, to get some control over ourselves. Yet we keep on getting sucked deeper and deeper into a mess of urges, shame, and insanity.

That is the essence of addiction.

Here is a list of the most common addictions:

Alcohol addiction

Addiction to mood altering substances such as marijuana, tranquilizers, cocaine, heroin, meth, and any other of the many drugs that people put in their bodies to change the way that they feel and act

Compulsive sexual behaviors

Compulsive eating

Compulsive gambling

Out of control, useless, shopping

How we got to such a place is a long story. Some of us were looking to relax from the anxieties and stresses of our lives. Some of us were looking to numb out from deep emotional pain. Some of us just liked the way that we felt. Whatever the reason, addiction is a terrible master. Under the power of addiction we have no chance to make a life of joy and dignity.

The good news is that people do free themselves from addiction. They make great lives for themselves. Their journey is always through change and learning. DBT skills are part of the journey. Through them we can learn how to manage our feelings without falling apart (emotional regulations skills), how to form positive relationships with people who can help us stay on course (interpersonal effectiveness skills, how to find bliss and joy in the midst of life and recovery (mindfulness skills), and how to weather the storms on the way (distress tolerance skills).