Home > Dialectical behaviour therapy skills training for individuals with substance use disorder: A systematic review.

Warner, Niamh and Murphy, Mike (2021) Dialectical behaviour therapy skills training for individuals with substance use disorder: A systematic review. Drug and Alcohol Review, Early online, . https://doi.org/10.1111/dar.13362.

Dialectical behaviour therapy skills training (DBT-ST) is currently being implemented as a standalone intervention for substance use disorders (SUD), despite limited empirical evidence to support its efficacy in this context. This review aimed to investigate the feasibility, acceptability and efficacy of DBT-ST for SUD.

English language journal articles which focused on quantitative evaluations of DBT-ST for SUD were identified by systematically searching five databases; Medline, Psychinfo, Pubmed, The Applied Social Sciences Index and Abstracts and Cumulative Index of Nursing and Allied Health Literature. Relevant grey literature was also identified using Google Scholar. The titles, abstracts and full-text of retrieved articles were independently screened by both authors. The nine retained articles were read in-depth and quality assessed by both authors. Data were synthesised narratively.

Interventions described as DBT-ST for SUD were implemented and adapted differently across studies. Despite these inconsistencies, DBT-ST was generally found to be acceptable and feasible for people with SUD. Findings offered preliminary support for DBT-ST for substance use reduction and emotion regulation enhancement for this cohort. Findings must be considered in light of the quality of studies which ranged from weak to strong.

Positive outcomes indicate that more rigorous studies, including large randomised controlled trials comparing DBT-ST to other evidence-based interventions for SUDs, are warranted.

Despite offering preliminary support for DBT-ST for SUD, the lack of controls, small samples and inconsistent adaptations of DBT-ST across studies, limits capacity to draw causal conclusions or make specific recommendations.

Item Type
Publication Type
Irish-related, Review, Article
Drug Type
All substances
Intervention Type
Treatment method, Psychosocial treatment method
1 August 2021
Identification #
Early online
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