a doctor explaining to her patient CBT Vs DBT


Addiction causes major alterations to your brain chemistry, which is a major reason why treatment is almost always required in order to fully recover. Addiction is treated with both evidence-based and holistic therapies, which includes treatments like CBT and DBT. But what are the differences between CBT vs DBT and which one is best for your needs during recovery?

Addiction, substance abuse disorders, and alcoholism impact tens of millions of Americans each and every year. Addiction is a powerful and chronic disease that can destroy your relationships, cause increased conflict, and lead to major medical and mental health problems. One of the biggest risks of addiction and drug use is suffering an overdose. The worsening opiate epidemic has led to a rash of fatal overdoses as illicit heroin supplies are increasingly cut with dangerous additives like fentanyl.

How Addiction Works

Addiction causes you to compulsively abuse drugs and alcohol despite experiencing troubling consequences, such as job loss or legal problems, as a direct result of your use. You can also have a strong and genuine desire to quit using it during addiction but be incapable of stopping on your own. There are two main types of addictions: physical and psychological.

During a physical addiction, your body becomes dependent on your substance of choice in order to function and you deal with major withdrawal symptoms if you immediately stop using. Examples of substances that can lead to physical addiction include:

  • OxyContin, Vicodin, Heroin, and Percocet
  • Xanax, Ativan, and Klonopin
  • Alcohol and methamphetamine
  • Amphetamines, such as Adderall and Ritalin

Other substances can lead to psychological dependence, including:

  • Cocaine
  • Marijuana
  • LSD
  • Inhalants

When you use drugs and alcohol, your brain associates the substance with pleasure because psychoactive substances cause your brain to release more neurotransmitters than it should. Your pleasure and reward center also associates everything that reminds you of your substance of choice with pleasure. Triggers, which can be people, places, or things, are difficult to avoid. They can create intense and powerful cravings that make it difficult to stop using without help.

Addiction continues to get worse until you receive treatment. Early treatment is the best way to improve your recovery chances.


Almost every substance abuse treatment center offers evidence-based treatment like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy. When you are trying to understand the difference between CBT vs DBT, it’s important to remember that both are highly effective treatments for addiction. One major difference between CBT vs DBT is that CBT focuses on laying the foundation for treatments like DBT. DBT is also a special type of CBT, which is why treatment usually starts with CBT.

CBT seeks to improve your self-awareness, specifically by helping you better understand how your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are related. Learning how to identify troubling thoughts and emotions is another important aspect of treatment, whether you are receiving CBT vs DBT or other evidence-based therapies.

CBT and DBT can be utilized during individual, group, and family therapy, making both treatments highly versatile. CBT and DBT can help improve your conflict resolution skills and empower you to change negative thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Since things like cravings and triggers can place you at risk of relapsing, CBT and DBT provide you with valuable tools to properly manage your recovery.

Finding Help Today

Whenever you are struggling with a substance abuse disorder, addiction, or alcoholism, you can feel defeated and overwhelmed. Reaching out for help is sometimes difficult or embarrassing, but it’s an absolutely central part of your recovery. Understanding the difference between CBT vs DBT can help you better adjust to life after treatment. If you are ready to start treatment or have questions about our substance abuse treatment programs, contact us today at 1.844.675.1628.

Leave a Comment

Scroll to Top