Dual Diagnosis Addiction Treatment

Dual Diagnosis Addiction Treatment / Dual Diagnosis Rehabs

Dual Diagnosis Addiction Treatment: One of the most important aspects of drug rehab programs is the ability to discover the root of the addiction. Few people use drugs and alcohol because they want to. Instead, most use drugs as a way of dealing with stress or coping with some other issue, such as mental illnesses or trauma. For some, that issue is another disorder. This leads to what we call a dual diagnosis.

The patient’s drug use and mental health issue are tightly tied together. Without going through a dual diagnosis addiction treatment program, it’s very difficult for these individuals to become sober. They may get sober for a short time, but then they typically relapse. That’s why anyone with a mental condition and addiction needs to look for a dual diagnosis rehab. They have to treat this other issue along with their addiction if they want their sobriety to last.

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What Is a Dual Diagnosis?

A dual diagnosis[1] is exactly what it sounds like. The patient has two disorders to deal with. One of these is addiction. The other is some type of a mental illness. These include conditions such as depression or anxiety.

Many patients struggle with one of these mental disorders. This makes it very difficult to work through their addiction. In fact, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health reported that 51.4 percent of patients have a dual diagnosis. They use drugs and alcohol to control these conditions or decrease their symptoms. Patients may finish drug or alcohol rehab but still relapse unless their mental illness gets treated as well.

Sometimes, a patient will have a dual diagnosis when they enter rehab. They will have known about and struggled with the other condition for years, sometimes even from birth.

Other times, they won’t know that they have this other condition. A medical professional examines the patient and discovers this condition. Either way, they must work on this other condition and their addiction at the same time. In some instances, the abuse of drugs and alcohol triggers the other mental illness.

If you’re struggling with drugs or alcohol addiction and believe you need a dual diagnosis rehab, contact us today. We work with partners who provide addiction treatment that will address a co-occurring condition. These partners will work with you to create a treatment plan that focuses on your overall wellness. Reach out today to discuss your needs and how we can help.

dual diagnosis addiction treatment

What Are Common Co-Occurring Disorders?

There are many different co-occurring disorders that can influence drug and alcohol addiction. However, there are some that we see more often than others. Here are some of the most common mental illness we see combined with addiction:

  • ADHD
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Depression
  • Eating Disorders
  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Schizophrenia
  • Anxiety

On the addiction side, any type of drug or alcohol addiction qualifies for a dual diagnosis. Often, other activities are also treated using a dual diagnosis method. For example, patients dealing with both alcohol addiction and compulsive gambling may find dual diagnosis addiction treatment helpful. Gambling and other addictions can also be connected to a mental disorder. The patient then has multiple disorders and addictions to treat. Despite the name, a dual diagnosis is not limited to only two disorders or addictions. Some people may face a handful of issues that combine into a difficult to manage situation. That is why we are here to help.

How Other Disorders Feed Addiction

Dealing with a mental disorder is very difficult, even when a person has the love and support of their family. For those who don’t have this support, it can seem impossible. These people often turn to drugs or alcohol as a form of self-medicating. When drunk or high, they can mute their feelings. They no longer care about anything. For some, drinking or getting high even lessens or eliminates the symptoms of their other condition. For example, some people get high to feel less depressed, even if that only works for a few hours.

Unfortunately, this creates a cycle of drug abuse that makes both the addiction and the co-occurring condition worse. For example, a person with generalized anxiety may fall into this cycle:

  • They discover using certain drugs helps them feel calmer.
  • However, once they come down from the high, their anxiety returns.
  • Now, though, the anxiety is compounded by the fact that they are using illegal drugs. They begin to feel anxious about getting more drugs and hiding their habit.
  • This leads to stressing out about getting discovered, being fired, and losing their friends and family.
  • To combat this increased anxiety, they use more drugs.
  • Because of the increased drug use, their anxiety continues to get worse. This leads to using more and more drugs.

This cycle is what makes dual diagnosis addiction treatment difficult but also very important. Treatment must focus on both issues for the patient to have a good chance at avoiding relapse.

dual diagnosis rehab addiction and eating disorder

Dual Diagnosis Addiciton Treatment: How It Works?

While some patients began using drugs to self-medicate, others began using drugs for other reasons. These patients may have already had a pre-existing condition or susceptibility towards a mental illness. After years, months, or even only weeks of abuse, drugs can begin changing how the brain operates. These changes can then cause the pre-existing condition to become worse or to fully develop.

Once this occurs, the individual starts the cycle we just explored. This time, though, they don’t realize they’re self-medicating. They don’t know they have a co-occurring condition; all they understand is that something doesn’t feel right. The end result, though, is the same. They use drugs to make themselves feel better, but that only makes the co-occurring condition worse.

How Does Dual Diagnosis Treatment Differ from Standard Addiction Treatment?

Dual diagnosis addiction treatment is different from standard treatment in that it’s more involved. Instead of receiving treatment for addiction, the patient goes through treatment for both addiction and the other condition. This involves meeting with additional doctors. Usually, dual diagnosis rehab takes longer because the patient needs additional treatment.

There are also additional risks and concerns that many patients have. For example, those who are dealing with a prescription medication addiction may be very, very hesitant to take medication for their mental condition. Others may not want to acknowledge and accept this condition or understand why it’s so important to treat it.

Dual diagnosis rehabs have to offer flexibility and understanding to their patients. While it’s important that all rehab programs allow the patient time to combat their addiction, this is even more important with a dual diagnosis. The patient needs to be comfortable with the plan of treatment for both diagnoses. This is especially true when the person is just now discovering that they have a mental illness to manage.

How Does Dual Diagnosis Treatment Differ from Standard Addiction Treatment?

Since treatment must be flexible and customized to the patient, there is no list of what the right dual diagnosis addiction treatment plan should include. Each patient’s plan will be as unique as their needs. The only vital factor is that both conditions must be treated. Here are some of the methods that can be used to treat addiction and the co-occurring condition:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Individual therapy
  • Group therapy
  • Family therapy
  • Pharmacotherapy (using medication to treat the co-occurring condition)
  • Physical therapy
  • Dialectic behavioral therapy
  • Behavioral modification therapy
  • Other forms of counseling, including vocational and nutritional counseling
one on one mental health therapy

Many treatment plans take a holistic approach to treatment. This approach treats the mind and body. This lets patients improve their physical health, mental wellbeing, and even spiritual self during treatment. In addition to focusing on becoming sober and learning how to handle their co-occurring condition, patients work to improve their overall health. This can include any or all of the following:

  • Eating a healthy diet
  • Exercising regularly
  • Meditating and other forms of stress relief
  • Finding fun hobbies
  • Using aromatherapy, acupuncture, and other alternative therapies
  • Repairing and/or building new relationships
  • Creating a balanced life
  • Returning to work or finding new, fulfilling work
  • Joining a spiritual community or social group

With holistic treatment, it’s important that the patient is seen as a person, not as a diagnosis. This treatment is also highly customized to the individual. For example, someone who is not religious would have no desire to join a spiritual community. However, they may find fulfillment by being part of a club or other organization.

What to Look for in Dual Diagnosis Rehabs

Not all treatment centers are dual diagnosis rehabs. When looking for treatment, it’s important to discuss the patient’s dual diagnosis early on. Some treatment facilities may not have the right people on staff to help treat the other condition. If that’s the case, the patient needs to consider a different facility.

Here are some things that a dual diagnosis rehab center should offer:

  • Medical and psychological help for the ailment and the addiction.
  • Flexible treatment options that do not end after 30 days.
  • A planned transition to a doctor or other healthcare professional for long-term treatment.
  • Assistance with finding support groups and other assistance after leaving the treatment facility.

While finding a great rehab facility is important to treatment, the biggest thing to keep in mind is the patient’s drive to become sober. Any patient who wants to change their life, defeat their addiction, and get a handle on their mental illness has the motivation they need to succeed in treatment. We’re here to give them the help they need to live a sober life. Contact us now and we’ll do everything we can to help!

Thanks to SAG-AFTRA and its members for their ongoing generosity and support of the organization and our cause.
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