Treating Addiction with DBT

Treating Addiction with DBT

Treating Addiction with DBT

DBT is a form of therapy that helps individuals struggling with addiction and substance abuse develop skills that help them recover and move forward.

Short for Dialectical Behavior Therapy, DBT is a modality used to treat various mental illnesses and disorders. This form of therapy has been particularly useful when treating addiction and substance abuse.

Although it was originally intended to treat personality disorders and severe suicidal thoughts, DBT has expanded and can help just about anyone under intense stress.

Treatment centers and addiction mental health professionals are increasingly using DBT more because its core tenets possess the necessary skills to recover from addiction and substance abuse.

So how does it work?

The goal of DBT is ultimately to improve an individual’s quality of life by changing maladaptive behaviors, negative thoughts and beliefs. Often times those with poor emotional regulation struggle to change these things about themselves and are confronted with conflicting feelings about changing. DBT therapists work to help clients synthesize these conflicting feelings and identify their own strengths, the things that they do have control over and accept the world around them.

DBT is a form of cognitive behavioral therapy as it tries to change thoughts and distorted cognitions. Although these two modalities are similar, DBT has its own components and skills that set it apart. DBT professionals rely on helping clients through individual therapy, phone sessions, group therapy, skills training, and team consultation. Often times, clients will be given homework to work on in between sessions. There are five objectives that guide the therapist and client.

These include:

Dialectical Behavior Therapy

There are also skills developed within each objective. For example in objective one, mindfulness, distress tolerance, interpersonal effectiveness, and emotion regulation are emphasized. These skills are especially helpful and necessary when treating someone with addiction or substance abuse.

Some examples of Treating Addiction with DBT include:
Fostering relationships with individuals and groups that do not encourage drug or substance use.
Removing triggers such as, unhealthy relationships and actual drugs and substances or paraphernalia.
Building self esteem so that clients feel confident to remain sober after treatment.

DBT can be modified to specifically treat those struggling with addiction and substance abuse. Furthermore, individuals with addiction are often times diagnosed with personality disorders in which DBT was originally intended to treat. DBT is a strong therapy modality to use in many mental health settings and can be especially useful when treating addiction and substance.

The Addicted Brain

the addicted brain

The Addicted Brain

The brain of someone addicted to drugs and alcohol differs from someone who is not. We know that those who struggle or struggled with addiction are different physiologically than those who can control their substance use. But what are those differences and what do they look like in the brain?

There is a reason that some individuals can take substances and some cannot without becoming addicted immediately or shortly after. Some brains are just wired for addiction. Genetics plays a big role and those with other addicts in their families can pass along genes that make individuals respond differently to alcohol and drugs.

Scientists and addiction research specialists trace this phenomenon back to how the brain functions with Dopamine.

In a typical brain, dopamine is released during a pleasurable event, like having an orgasm. The brain quickly returns back to a normal equilibrium state once the event is over. However, in the brain of an addict, the dopamine sky rockets and doesn’t return back to an equilibrium. Instead it comes plunging down which puts individuals in all-time low. This is how the cycle of addiction can start. After an addicted individual comes down they feel that they must get that high again because anything is better than the low.

It’s important to note that a genetic predisposition to addiction doesn’t necessarily mean an individual is bound to have one. Addiction can be avoided by pure sobriety or partaking in such activities very minimally. Furthermore, some scientists believe that we are all hard wired for addiction if exposed enough to certain substances.

The Addicted Brain

Biological and genetic disposition is not the sole reason for addiction. It is also the attentional biases associated with the substance use. For example, perhaps when someone drinks it may be rewarding because of the social setting that it occurs in. This attentional bias can enhance the reward receptors even more than just the alcohol alone.

It is also important to note that the brain changes when it is undergoing addiction even if there was not predisposition prior to the addiction.

The following image compares a typical brain to an addicted brain:

brain of an addict

Get Well Jobs in Recovery

get well jobs

What are Get Well Jobs in Addiction Recovery?

Individuals in addiction recovery are usually advised to acquire get well jobs once they are ready to get back into the job force and society. But what does a wellness job even mean and what is the difference between a job and a wellness job?


Individuals in addiction and substance abuse treatment centers are removed from their daily stressors and put into a safe enwevironment where they can heal and learn skills that help them cope without the use of drugs and alcohol.


When someone in recovery is in the process of discharging and stepping back into society things can become overwhelming and shell shocking quickly. Jumping right back into a career or a demanding job can be detrimental to someone’s recovery and may lead to relapse. Addiction specialists and professionals advise that recovering individuals ease back into society by working a job that is not as taxing or rigid. These are get well jobs.


Get well jobs are jobs that don’t require too much of your emotional energy and are flexible enough to work with your recovery program. An example of a wellness job could be working at a coffee shop or a pizza parlor.

Finding a wellness job can be an exciting and positive experience because perhaps this may be the first time an individual has ever worked. However, this can also be difficult for some because often times recovering individuals are eager to support themselves again or get back to their previous career.


Let’s say someone was a CEO of a big company and took time to recover from an addiction at a treatment center. Going to work at a grocery store will most likely be a difficult thing to adjust to since they are not used to jobs like that and perhaps it does not financially support them.


Wellness jobs don’t necessarily mean that you have to work a minimum wage paying or part-time job but it does mean that recovering individuals need to work a job that will be supportive to their recovery.


Wellness jobs should possess the following traits:

  • Regular and reasonable work hours
  • Routine tasks and requirements
  • Proper working conditions
  • Clear expectations
  • Opportunity for growth
  • Flexibility


These traits can exist in a number of jobs. In the previous example of the CEO, that individual could perhaps come up with a way to integrate himself back into his job. Perhaps he could work part time rather than full time and hire an assistant to work side by side with him for extra support.


Addiction treatment centers and mental health professionals can help individuals find wellness jobs through job placement programs or by job counseling. Furthermore, job counseling or guidance can perhaps be found in an AA program and by networking and asking for advice from other people recovery.

Strange Addictions

exercise addiction

Strange addictions are more common than you think. When people think of addiction, they usually imagine drugs, alcohol, gambling, food, or even sex. However, addictions can occur to the most unexpected things like the ingestion of nail polish or air freshener. People can become addicted to behaviors or people or even objects.

Addiction to these strange things works similarly as addiction to drugs and alcohol. When individuals engage in their addictive behavior, such as eating cat food, they get a similar high from such acts like smoking cigarettes.

In reality anyone can become addicted to anything for many reasons. Some of the more common strange addictions include:


Plastic surgery

Chewing ice

Hair pulling


Social networking



Pica (eating non edible substances)

Wearing costumes all the time

A lot of these addictions sound strange because they are not typically heard of, however these strange addictions are more common than you think.

Causes for these strange addictions are similar to most causes of drug and alcohol addiction. For example, trauma, biology, genes, abuse, etc.  However, some people become addicted to things because of poor nutrition. For instance, some people become addicted to non-edible substances like chalk because they may have a severe mineral or vitamin deficiency.

There are many negative effects that can occur from these strange addictions. For example, eating non-edible things can have profound negative health consequences like gastrointestinal failure. An addiction to tanning could lead to cancer. Addictions to things like costumes or watching tv can be very detrimental to relationships. Furthermore, addictions in general interfere with all aspects of life.

If you know someone that is showing addictive behavior with anything. whether it seems strange or not, please encourage them to seek mental health support right away.  The Last House Sober Living can help with strange addictions!..  Contact Us Today!

strange addictions

Substance Abuse During Divorce

substance abuse during divorce

Substance Abuse during Divorce


Substance abuse during divorce is unfortunately a common and unhealthy way of coping with the devastation and stress that divorce can cause. Often times, substance abuse or addiction will push marriages to end. Some substance abuse and addiction is triggered just by the divorce alone.


Divorce is identified as one of the most stressful life events that someone can go through. If one of the spouses doesn’t have many coping skills to begin with, divorce can push them into a downward spiral of abusing drugs and alcohol. In fact, studies show that divorced individuals are more likely to drink alcohol than married couples. Many times individuals will turn to alcohol, porn or excessive partying to cope with the distress of divorce. Addiction and substance abuse is not just limited to drugs and alcohol. Individuals can also turn to things like food, nicotine, and sex.


Substance abuse and addiction doesn’t help or benefit anyone and can have immense negative consequences on the divorce process. In truth, substance abuse and addiction will most often worsen the impact of divorce, such as a loss in custody over children. Addiction and substance abuse can lead to more fights and will inhibit healthy communication. This can lead to additional legal consequences.


If you are in the process of getting in a divorce, it is important get support from your loved ones and from professionals. Lawyers can help individuals decide what is best for themselves and their family and can assist in making really difficult decisions surrounding custody, finances or communication.


It can be very intimidating and stressful to work through a divorce with someone who is addicted or abusing substances to cope. Being aware of when a spouse is under the influence is important so that an individual can set healthy boundaries. For example, if a spouse has been drinking it is best not to speak with them until they are in a clearer head space and sober.


Divorce and addiction can go hand in hand. Either one can come before the other and lead to the latter. Although it may mask the devastation, addiction and substance worsens the divorce process in the long run.  

Volunteer Working During Addiction Recovery

volunteer work during addiction recovery

Volunteer Work During Addiction Recovery

Helping and serving others through volunteer work is often times some of the most humbling and rewarding experiences in addiction recovery, let alone in life.

History shows that serving and caring for others is not only essential to living a fulfilled life but also what makes us human.

Some of the most influential figures made history by serving others.

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” — Mahatma Gandhi

During addiction, individuals lose themselves in their substance use. When someone is suffering from addiction, care and consideration for others is put on the back burner and finding the next high becomes the main focus.

Addiction is a selfish disease by nature. Not only that, but often times, individuals struggling with addiction do the sheer opposite of serving others and do horrible things such as stealing and hurting others for the sake of their next high.

Incorporating volunteer work and serving others is an essential element in many addiction recovery settings. Volunteering during recovery helps addicts to step outside of themselves and reconnect with the world.

Volunteer work during addiction recovery has many benefits, not only to those being served but to those actually providing the care! When recovering addicts volunteer during recovery they are simultaneously improving their mental and physical health.

Health benefits include:

Improved lifespan- Addiction and substance abuse decreases longevity in life however volunteering and serving others can repair and improve some of the physical damage from addiction and substance abuse. Some research has shown that volunteering is just as effective, if not more, than exercising consistently.

Mental health- Finding a spiritual connection and a purpose in life is a critical part of addiction and substance abuse recovery. Serving others can give individuals a sense of purpose and a deeper connection. Additionally, happy hormones are released and stress is reduced when individuals feel they are contributing good to the world.

Enhanced social connections- Connection is the essence of volunteer work. Volunteering provides individuals an opportunity to meet many people, create and foster relationships, practice social skills and boost self confidence in social settings.

Volunteering during addiction recovery also sets an expectation for those recovering to be a positive example for others. This is especially important if recovering addicts are volunteering with other individuals recovering from addiction and substance abuse.

Individuals that volunteer during addiction recovery are also building resume and job skills in addition to spending time in a more constructive and productive way.

At Thrive, individuals in recovery are given opportunities to volunteer and serve others to reap all of these benefits.



What is Smoked Out of a Glass Pipe?

What is Smoked Out of a Glass Pipe?

People have been smoking out of pipes for many years, however, throughout the years pipes have changed into other materials like glass. Furthermore, what is being smoked in pipes has also evolved.

Pipe smoking goes back to at least the 16th century and was used in many different cultures. Many native cultures would smoke pipes during rituals or in tribal gatherings. After the discovery of tobacco, smoking out of pipes became even more popular. In fact, tobacco became the most popular substance to smoke out of pipes.

In the 19th century, other substances like opium, became prevalent to smoke. Following that, psychoactive drugs began to be consumed as well, via pipe. Since then other drugs have become popular to smoke through a pipe. Drugs like crack cocaine, methamphetamines, DBT, PCP and cannabis are often times smoked in a glass pipes.

Smoking out of a glass pipe is often times the preferred way to consume illegal drugs since it is more intense and more comfortable than snorting a substance through nasal passage ways.  

Glass pipes can vary in design, however here are the most typical ones used for various substances.

Marijuana pipe:

smoked glass pipe

Crack-cocaine pipe:

crack cocaine pipe

Methamphetamine pipe:

meth pipe

PCP pipe:

glass pipe

If you have seen a loved one with one of these pipes please ask a professional for support. Glass Pipes like the ones listed above can be an indication of a serious drug problem and substance abuse.

Spirituality in Addiction and Substance Abuse Recovery

Spirituality in Addiction and Substance Abuse Recovery

Spirituality in Addiction


We often hear that connecting to some form of spirituality is imperative in addiction and substance abuse recovery.

But what does that even mean and why is it so important?


People often mix up spirituality and religion, however, both of these terms differ in meaning. Spirituality is not the same thing as religion. Religion is a belief in a super controlling power like God and is derived from a specific system of faith and worship. Spirituality is different and is instead described as the quality of being connected to  something intangible like the human spirit or soul.


When someone is addicted to drugs and alcohol, that individual loses real connection and instead their drug or substance of choice becomes their only form of connection. Regaining or developing a sense of spirituality during recovery can help someone feel connected again to themselves and life. Feeling connected to something beyond oneself can provide a sense of purpose and self worth while providing support. But what does this even mean and how do you find spirituality?


Spirituality is not a one size fits all concept and can mean various things to different people. Some people find spirituality through other spiritual leaders and ideas like Buddhism. Others practice mindfulness to stay present and connected to the moment or work the steps in the 12 step program.


The concept of spirituality is often times a source of frustration, especially for those in addiction recovery. Often times, individuals in recovery expect a spiritual awakening when in reality it is a more gradual process.


Addiction leads to disconnection which is the sheer opposite of spirituality. In essence, spirituality is connection. This means serving others, developing and fostering deep relationships with others and healing the mind, body and soul. Spirituality means that individuals let love guide them, not their addiction.


So what does spirituality in addiction look like for you?  


It is important that individuals in recovery figure out what spirituality looks like for themselves. This could mean that you spend lots of time reading and learning about various religions and spiritual figures for guidance. Perhaps you already have a connection to a religion in which it was impaired during your addiction. Whether it is reconnecting or discovering spirituality for the first time, it is important that individuals take the time and effort to define their own spiritual connection.  At The Last House we have a program that encourages a spiritual solution to addiction.


Self Harm and Addiction

self harm and addiction

Self Harm and Addiction


Self harm and addiction have a cyclical relationship. Often times those who struggle with self harm can become solely addicted to the release that hurting oneself provides. Other times those struggling with self harm can also become addicted to drugs and alcohol. A study discovered that close to 10% of individuals struggling with self harm also abuse drugs and substances.


What is self harm?


Self harm is when someone purposely inflicts self injury or harm to their bodies through mutilation without the intent to kill oneself. Someone who inflicts self injury is usually secretive about this and will hide their injuries underneath clothing. Individuals that harm themselves usually do this with sharp objects like knives and razors. Other ways that self harm is inflicted is through burning oneself, ripping hair out, piercing the skin, picking at wounds to avoid healing, scratching, poisoning, punching, slapping or even breaking bones.

Why would someone hurt themselves intentionally?


You might be thinking, why would someone do that to themselves?! Typically, hurting oneself sounds like the last thing someone would want to do. However, someone who is in severe emotional distress and with limited coping skills may turn to self harm as a release from the emotional pain. Often times, self harm is associated with other mental illness or disorders such as depression, anxiety disorders, eating disorders, and borderline personality disorder. Self harm can lead to the body’s release of pain killing hormones and endorphins which can feel like a form of release to the individual inflicting self injury. Sometimes the physical pain caused by self harm acts as a distraction from the emotional pain. Furthermore, self harm can feel like a form a self control when other things in life are out of control, or a form of punishment for perceived faults, and a way to express internal pain.


Who struggles with self harm?


Teenagers and young adults are usually the individuals that struggle with self harm. Both of these developmental periods are tough with a lot of peer and societal pressure. If these individuals never learned healthy coping skills, self harm may feel like the only relief. Furthermore, females are also more at risk for self harm however it is not entirely clear as to why.


What causes self harm?


Just like most maladaptive behaviors or mental disorders, there is not simple cause that leads someone to inflict self injury. However, a combination of unstable and abusive environments, genetics and biological dispositions to certain mental illness/disorders can explain how self harm develops as a coping skill. It is important to note that self harm is not itself a mental illness and instead an indicator of very poor coping skills. There are various risk factors that leave someone vulnerable to self harm. Someone who has experienced sexual abuse, childhood abuse, abandonment, neglect, dissociation, psychiatric disorders, and substance abuse/addiction. Strong emotions such as worthlessness, guilt, shame, loneliness, panic, anger, self hatred of confusion can also put someone at risk for self harm. Furthermore, someone who is struggling with addiction or substance abuse, are a lot more likely to hurt themselves since they have less control over themselves when under the influence.




  • Noticeable wounds that cannot be explained
  • Clothing that is very covering
  • Isolation
  • Depression
  • Locking oneself in a bathroom or bedroom
  • Scars or fresh cuts, bruises and marks
  • Excessive rubbing of an area
  • Hiding objects such as razor blades
  • Impulsivity and instability
  • Identity issues




Because self harm is usually hidden, it can be difficult to diagnose and identify. Once self harm has been identified there are numerous treatment options that can give someone a sense of control over and relieve some of their intense emotions. If you suspect a loved one is hurting themselves it is important to seek professional attention immediately. Often times, those struggling with self harm will go to rehabilitation centers or hospitals to ensure that the individual doesn’t severely injure themselves.  Medication can minimize intense emotions and provide more emotional balance. Psychotherapies like psychodynamic therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and dialectical behavioral therapy are the most common modalities used to treat someone that self harms.


Recovering from self harm and addiction:  


Individuals struggling with self harm and addiction can complicate treatment. It is imperative that both of these co-occurring issues are simultaneously treated and are given proper attention. It is also important to differentiate between the addiction hurting oneself and addiction to actual substances and drugs. At the end of the day, self harm and substance abuse need to be replaced with healthier coping skills which can be achieved in therapy and at treatment centers.

self harm self love

Vyvanse Addiction

vyvanse addiction

Vyvanse Addiction

Vyvanse (Lisdexamfetamine) is a pharmaceutical drug that is prescribed to older children and adults with ADD, ADHD or binge eating disorder. It is a fairly recent drug and was only approved by the FDA in 2008. Vyvanse, Adderall and Ritalin are all central nervous system stimulants and treat both ADD and ADHD. However, Vyvanse differs from Adderall and Ritalin in some ways. Vyvanse contains lisdexamfetamine, which means that side effects are not as pronounced and one dosage lasts the whole day. Ritalin and Adderall contain amphetamine salts, which can strengthen side effects and increase spikes and drops. This means that those taking Ritalin or Adderall have to take it multiple times a day to keep the effects going. The spikes and drops that come with these medications can interfere with life and leave consumers feeling uncomfortable with such sensations. Additionally, individuals can be prone to addiction from the “rush” that these stimulants provide. Vyvanse has a time-lapse formulation and is released sparingly throughout the day and thus “rushes” are less extreme but are none the less still addictive.

What are the side effects?

Vyvanse, Adderall and Ritalin all have similar side effects such as:

Weight loss or change in appetite
Stomach and digestive discomfort such as pain, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea
Change in vision
Mood changes such as irritability, anxiety and hyperactivity
Feeling jittery
Excessive sweating

Vyvanse addiction can have serious side effects too that should be addressed immediately by a medical professional. These include:

Rapid heart rate
High blood pressure
Stunted growth in children
Tourette’s Syndrome
Poor circulation
Worsened pre-existing mental health conditions such as Bipolar

Furthermore, Vyvanse can have interactions with other medications or vitamins that could be detrimental.

Why is it addictive?

Although Vyvanse is not considered a narcotic, it is considered to be a Schedule II controlled substance by the Drug Enforcement Administration. Substances in this category are taken very seriously because they have a high potential for abuse which can lead to severe dependence and addiction. Vyvanse abuse or addiction occurs when individuals take this substance beyond its intended use. This can occur in a number of ways. Individuals can abuse Vyvanse by taking it without a prescription, taking it with other drugs to enhance or change the effects, taking more than prescribed, taking it longer than prescribed, and ingesting the drug inappropriately like snorting or injecting it. Although this drug is fairly new still, many people have become addicted or abuse Vyvanse for a number of reasons. Students and professionals take Vyvanse because they believe it will improve their performance. Some people take it for the weight loss side effects. Some accidently become addicted or dependent because they build a tolerance over time. And others take it to experience a high because Vyvanse provides a rush when taken. Additionally, those abusing or addicted to Vyvanse become hooked because of the increased energy and euphoria that come with the rush.

Effects of Vyvanse abuse/addiction:

Vyvanse addiction or abuse will most often have to negative consequences. These negative effects include lethargy, depression, hopelessness, rapid heart rate, sleep disturbance, gastrointestinal distress, malnutrition, psychosis, hostility and paranoia.

Signs of abuse/addiction of Vyvanse:

Lying to medical professionals to get a prescription
Using someone else’s prescription
Stealing Vyvanse
Shopping around to different doctors to get multiple prescriptions
Buying Vyvanse illegally
Feeling withdrawal symptoms such as depression, agitation, and psychological distress.
Lack of sleep
Suicidal thoughts


Vyvanse recovery is similar to other substance abuse recovery. Some treatment centers specialize in Vyvanse detox and recovery. Vyvanse withdrawal can cause severe psychological and mental effects. Thus, those detoxing from Vyvanse need to be monitored and slowly weaned off. With the support of loved ones, a 12-step program and a treatment center, individuals can recover from Vyvanse addiction and abuse.