Dialectal behavioral therapy (DBT) is a type of therapy offered by many drug rehab centers to help change the mindset of drug addicts. Many studies have found DBT to be quite effective, with patients requiring less inpatient hospitalization, being able to better adjust to social triggers and more. This approach will specifically teach you how to better regulate and control your emotional and cognitive thinking processes to avoid relapsing. Improving distress tolerance is one of the many aspects you'll learn. In particular, these 3 strategies have been found to be effective.
Improving the Moment
It's easy to crack when put on the spot or feeling stressed. For example, you might be in a situation where you are being offered drugs that would cause you to relapse. While you may not be able to change the situation you're in, you can improve the moment and lower your own stress levels using a variety of techniques. You'll feel more at ease, and be able to control your own emotions without reacting first. To improve the moment, consider:
- imagining that you are somewhere else, like on a beautiful island vacationing, instead of where you are at the moment;
- finding meaning in the situation that you are in;
- praying, meditating or finding a spiritual connection in order to relax; or,
- trying to stay positive through calming self talk, which includes phrases like "I can do this" or "this will pass".
Distracting Yourself with Ideas
During your time at the drug rehab center and even after you have been released from their care, it's easy to feel an urge to relapse. In fact, studies have shown that only a third of drug addicts will be able to abstain from relapsing during the first year of their journey to sobriety. Naturally, it's easy for those negative ideas and desires to enter your mind. Another easy way to improve your distress tolerance is to simply distract yourself.
When you are trying to distract yourself, think of a hobby or something else that you really want to do. Your goal is to shift your focus and attention elsewhere until that desire disappears. To do so, you will have to acknowledge those urges and feelings rather than fight them. Next, consciously choose to place your attention elsewhere. Everyone will have different things that will be able to better distract themselves from unwanted desires and urges.
Making a List of Pros and Cons
It's easy to improve your distress tolerance when you have a clear goal in mind and know why you want to be sober. When push comes to shove, sit down and write a list of pros and cons. Your pros and cons list should give you a good idea of what the consequences for certain actions are. You should list pros and cons for what will happen if you tolerate the distress and if you don't.
For example, if you choose to not tolerate the distress, you might find temporary satisfaction; however, the cons of that action may be that you will experience pain or shame afterwards. On the other hand, one of the pros of choosing to tolerate the distress may be the fact that you'll feel proud of yourself; however, one of the cons of this may be that you will have to put effort into controlling your own actions and thoughts.
While learning how to improve your distress tolerance during DBT can help you fight your drug addiction, make sure to take advantage of the many other resources that are also available. Go to your support groups regularly and be sure to meet with your therapist as scheduled to discuss your progress. For more information on rehab centers, check out a site like http://www.olalla.org.