This is an On-Demand course that includes an audio talk and a handout of slides that accompany the talk.

DBT for Substance Abusers with Borderline Personality Disorder

Dialectical behavior therapy for substance use disorders (DBT-SUD) is an efficacious treatment for individuals with borderline personality disorder (BPD) and substance use disorders. Multi-diagnostic individuals with BPD and SUD are at much more difficult to treat and much more even more complex and difficult to treat than those with BPD without SUD. While DBT-SUD shares a great deal in common with standard DBT, there are a number of significant differences that target the unique challenges and issues raised when SUD is in the mix.

This three hour training provides a high-level overview including the following topics: unique challenges in treating multi-diagnostic individuals with BPD and SUD, DBT-SUD behavioral targets, dialectical abstinence, attachment strategies, DBT-SUD skills, treatment approach for addressing lying, and the role of drug testing.

Learning Objectives

After completing this course participants will be able to:

  • Define Dialectical Abstinence in DBT for clients with BPD and SUD.
  • List three specific treatment targets for clients with SUD and BPD.
  • Describe three skills specifically designed for SUD clients.
  • List three attachment strategies.
  • Describe the function of attachment strategies.
  • Describe how lying is targeted, a ddressed, and treated when treating BPD SUD clients.


Linda Dimeff, PhD, is Chief Scientific Officer at Evidence-Based Practice Institute, Inc.; Institute Director at Portland DBT Institute; and Clinical Faculty in the Department of Psychology at the University of Washington. Dr. Dimeff has collaborated closely with Marsha M. Linehan for nearly two decades to develop and evaluate an adaptation of DBT for substance-dependent individuals with borderline personality disorder; to produce DBT training materials for clinicians; and to train, consult, and supervise clinicians in their practice of DBT. She has worked with public and private sector systems throughout the world in their efforts to implement DBT. Dr. Dimeff is a recipient of the Cindy J. Sanderson Outstanding Educator Award from the International Society for the Improvement and Teaching of DBT.

Licensing and Continuing Education Requirements

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The Evidence-Based Practice Institute is approved by the American Psychological Association to offer continuing education for psychologists. The Evidence-Based Practice Institute maintains responsibility for the program and its content.  The Evidence-Based Practice Institute allocates 3 CE credits for this course following APA guidelines. After you successfully complete the course, fill out an evaluation form, and pass an exam, your CE certificate will be emailed to you.

Licensing and continuing education requirements vary by state. Please contact your state's regulatory authority to verify that this course meets your licensing and/or continuing education requirements.



Past Reviews

Wonderful introduction and overview to DBT-SUD. - Neal Moglowsky

Great way of conceptualizing the way a BPD/SUD client functions, very helpful strategies that I may also use with other DBT clients who do not use drugs. - Julia L Psicihulis, LPC

Excellent overview of key adaptations of DBT to SUDs. - Ilana Karpin