How DBT Reshapes Your Thinking Patterns
In order to understand how Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) reshapes your thinking patterns, you need to understand how the brain works. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, your brain is made up of billions of cells called neurons that communicate with each other using electrical and chemical signals. These neurons connect different areas of the brain together via pathways that send. One of these pathways is the reward pathway. Like other biological creatures, humans engage in behaviors that are rewarding—we want to feel good. When that happens, those pleasurable feelings are noted in the brain and those reward pathways are strengthened like adding strands to a rope to make it stronger. The more times you engage in that behavior, the more you will feel pleasure, and stronger the neural pathway (the rope) becomes. Scientists call this connection between actions and pleasurable feelings positive reinforcement.
According to Stanford University, drugs mimic those pleasurable feelings in the brain and even activate parts in your brain related to pleasure. In fact drugs create an overload of positive feelings that natural actions (hugs, a beautiful sunset, a smile) cannot produce in the brain like opening up a floodgate of water. Over time the desire for the drug becomes more critical than the pleasure than the drug itself.
What Is Dialectical Behavior Therapy?
Originally developed by psychologist Marsha Linehan, Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a specific kind of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). Therapists and addiction recovery professionals frequently utilize these two kinds of therapies to help addicts break addiction to drugs like clonazepam and make changes toward sobriety.
According to Psych Central DBT evaluates an addict’s beliefs, assumptions and thought processes. By examining those thoughts that are incorrect, unhelpful and even toxic, an addict can then replace those negative thoughts with newer, healthier modes of thinking. Just like a drug reinforces pathways in the brain, a person’s thoughts and actions can also reinforce other pathways in his brain by focusing on the positive aspects of sobriety. One other aspect of DBT is the acceptance of two conflicting concepts: acceptance and change. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, DBT teaches an addict to accept uncomfortable thoughts and feelings rather fighting against them. An addict can learn that feelings change over time. They can tolerate uncomfortable feelings and experiences without the need for drugs like clonazepam. This allows him to gradually change his behavior to become drug-free. Reinforcing those behaviors creates new thinking patterns in the brain.
The Processes Within Dialectical Behavior Therapy
According to a 2008 article in Addiction Science and Clinical Practice, DBT involves several tasks. An addict moves through these tasks at his own pace gradually changing both the brain’s pathways and corresponding behavior. Specific behavioral goals include the following:
- Decreasing substance use until abstinence is achieved
- Alleviating painful withdrawal symptoms
- Dealing with urges, cravings and temptations to use drugs
- Avoiding triggers for drug use such as people, places and things associated with past drug use
- Fostering reinforcement of healthy behaviors
One of the elements of treatment that you will utilize often is setting and accomplishing goals. This is a common process of addiction recovery and DBT. Goal setting allows you to reinforce your positive motivations and behaviors while also weakening the pathways in the brain associated with drug use. Goal setting includes the following:
- Picturing the life you want – You want to create a rewarding life without drugs. You will refer to this vision often as reinforcement.
- Creating your goals – You will set steps or goals that will help you achieve the life you envision without drugs. Sometimes that long-term goal will feel too overwhelming, so you will likely set small, reachable goals like attending three meetings a week or remaining drug-free for one more week (or day or month).
- Going after your goals – Together with a therapist, you will move toward achieving both the long-term and short-term goals you’ve established. At the same time, you will also work through the negative experiences that led to addiction in the first place. In therapy you will also talk about the barriers that get in the way of your goals.
- Sustain your goals – You and your therapist or rehab professional will work together to strengthen and sustain your goals for a sober life. As you accomplish goals, your brain creates good feelings, so the more goals you reach, the more your reshaping your thinking and behavioral patterns. If you relapse, you reestablish goals by evaluating what led to the relapse and adjusting your goals accordingly.
Goal-setting, processing behaviors and thoughts and working through triggers take place in individual counseling, group therapy and even phone consultation as necessary. A therapist will use different techniques to help through the rehab process. You may be encouraged to use a journal (sometimes called a thought journal) or be assigned homework to complete in between sessions. All of these techniques work together to gradually reshape your way of thinking, and thus, your way of behaving.
Getting Help for Your Addiction
If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction to drugs like clonazepam, we can help. The first step is calling our toll-free helpline. We are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We can help you find a treatment center that meets your needs. We can even help you find a rehab center that utilizes DBT as a part of its treatment process. Don’t allow drug addiction to control your life any longer. Call us today, and start changing your life.