Dual diagnosis is a term used by mental health professionals and addiction specialists to refer to people who suffer from substance use disorder and other mental health disorders simultaneously. Mental health problems co-occurring alongside substance abuse problems can include anxiety disorders, depression, bipolar disorder, a variety of personality disorders, among others. Suffering from addiction or any one of these other mental health conditions can be arduous enough on its own, but when a person meets the criteria for one or more conditions it can be deeply impairing.
The term dual diagnosis does not merely mean that the patient suffers from both disorders simultaneously. The label implies that substance use disorder and the other mental health conditions affect and in many ways feed into each other. Sometimes a mental health condition such as depression can arise from life circumstances brought on by addiction. In other cases, the suffering that mental illness brings can drive people to use drugs and alcohol as a form of self-medication, leading ultimately to addiction.
In both cases, once one or more disorders are at play, it becomes nearly impossible for a person to find relief from treating addiction or mental health in isolation. Enrolling in a treatment center that understands the unique needs of dual-diagnosis clients is essential.
Partial Hospitalization Programs (PHP) are a great option for individuals who want the intensity and structure of an inpatient treatment program with the flexibility of an outpatient program.
Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOP) provide individuals with a thorough, daily regimen of group and individual therapy that newly sober individuals need in the first few months of recovery.
Outpatient treatment programs are an effective and very flexible kind of treatment program for individuals struggling with addiction, mental health and impulse control disorders.
Aftercare treatment programs are services that people who graduate from inpatient and outpatient programs are advised to make use of to facilitate long term sobriety after leaving treatment.
The symptoms of dual diagnosis vary considerably from person to person. Because dual diagnosis is a catch-all term that can encompass any mental health condition, no two dual diagnosis patients are alike. Someone suffering from obsessive compulsive disorder and a crystal meth addiction is going to present radically different symptoms from a person suffering from a personality disorder and alcoholism. This can make it difficult to recognize someone who is dual diagnosis.
A further factor complicating the diagnostic progress is the fact that mental health issues can often be difficult to differentiate from the effects of drug addiction. People with substance abuse disorder, whether they’re actively using drugs and alcohol or merely going through withdrawal symptoms, tend to have the same disordered thinking and behavior that is often associated with mental illness. It takes a skilled and experienced clinician to recognize that the emotional and.behavioral health of a patient is being compromised by more than one problem.
Regardless of the substance of choice, however, the symptoms of addiction itself do have several commonalities. These include:
People with co-occurring mental health disorders are likely to experience further difficulties, as mental illness tends to exacerbate the symptoms of substance use disorder. If you suspect that you or someone you love has a mental health disorder as well, it is usually a good idea to research the particular symptoms of that illness. However, it should be noted that even the widely varying population of dual-diagnosis addicts share a variety of problems. Among these are:
Dual diagnosis treatment offers traditional addiction treatment alongside mental health interventions. This integrated treatment approach involves taking a holistic approach toward the client and addressing their needs through a variety of strategies and therapeutic modalities. For patients who have thus far tried to treat their addiction and mental health problems separately, a dual diagnosis treatment program can offer unimaginable benefits.
When it comes to dealing with substance abuse, the recovery process is nearly impossible without first addressing underlying mental health conditions. People with untreated depression, for instance, will often find it difficult to quit drinking no matter how good their addiction treatment program is. During dual-diagnosis treatment, mental health professionals work alongside addiction counselors to address emotional and behavioral health concerns. This ensures that mental health disorders will not infringe upon the recovery process.
Most dual-diagnosis programs also provide access to psychiatric care and medication management services. This is of paramount importance, because it is extremely common for dual-diagnosis patients to turn to drugs or alcohol as a way of self-medicating. By getting healthy and effective medical treatment under the care of a licensed psychiatrist, patients get the relief they need and are thereby unburdened of the pressure to play both doctor and patient at the same time.
According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 9.2 million adults in 2018 suffered from both addiction and mental illness. This enormous population of people with co-occurring disorders goes largely untreated. Further research by the National Alliance on Mental Illness goes into more specifics. Approximately 50% of people with severe mental disorders engage in high-risk substance abuse. Even within the vast community of people who consider themselves merely addicts, one third of alcohol addicts and more than half of all drug addicts report suffering from symptoms of mental health conditions.
Certain populations are more likely to require treatment for co-occurring disorders. Military veterans, for instance, often develop drug addictions during or after service. They also tend to suffer from mental health conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and anxiety. People who come from poverty and lower socioeconomic backgrounds also have high rates of comorbidity, another term for dual-diagnosis. In the United States, people from these backgrounds often have poor access to medical care. As a result, many working class individuals go undiagnosed and untreated. An additional population that is susceptible to being dual-diagnosis are those with pre-existing medical conditions. These individuals often find themselves developing emotional issues surrounding their medical problem, and they tend to be drawn to self-medicate to alleviate their suffering.
Getting sober and recovering from drug addiction is a difficult but worthwhile journey. Enrolling in an addiction treatment center is usually the best course of action. These treatment programs include residential inpatient programs for severe addiction, intensive outpatient programs, among others. Unfortunately not all rehab programs are equipped to handle people suffering from mental health disorders as well as addiction. For dual-diagnosis patients, even the highest quality rehab facility can be ineffective if the causes and symptoms of a mental health condition are not addressed. Rehab programs with dual-diagnosis treatment programs are essential for this population.
If you have attended multiple treatment programs without success, this can be a sign that the integrated approach of a dual-diagnosis program might be right for you. Individuals suffering from anxiety, depression, OCD, bipolar disorder, or any personality disorder can also find relief from any and all conditions in such a program. Dual-diagnosis treatment programs provide addiction treatment alongside counseling and psychiatric care. They understand that successful drug or alcohol abuse recovery involves addressing the clients needs in all areas, not merely detoxing them.
Self-medication occurs when an individual with diagnosed or undiagnosed mental illness tries to alleviate the symptoms of their conditions by using substances. While addicts are often stigmatized in the media or popular culture as fun-loving pleasure-seekers, people who self-medicate are more often merely using drugs or alcohol to relieve suffering and feel normal. Self-medication, however, comes with a number of risks and dangers:
People who treat their mental illnesses by self-medicating are prone to addiction. Because drugs and alcohol are incapable of curing the underlying condition but do provide temporary relief, it can feel necessary to continually abuse them. This can quickly lead to dependence. Continued use leads to drug tolerance, which makes it necessary for users to ingest higher quantities of their substance of choice to get their desired relief. At higher quantities, withdrawal symptoms become more severe. At this point, many users find it nearly impossible to stop using. The result is addiction, which not only does further damage to an individual’s health, but wrecks havoc on relationships, career, and overall ability to function in the world. The end result is often a worsening of mental health, which can provoke further drug use as individuals hopelessly seek relief.
Further, self-medication itself is something of a misnomer, as drugs and alcohol are not proper medication. Individuals are prone to misdiagnosing themselves. Even individuals who correctly diagnose themselves as suffering from anxiety and take anti-anxiety medications such as Xanax are highly unlikely to ingest the correct doses. Without a treatment plan and the supervision of a psychiatrist or medical professional, self-medicators are likely to abuse medications. This exposes them to a number of dangers, including overdose.
Individuals suffering from mental illness should understand that medication is available alongside addiction treatment at dual-diagnosis treatment programs. These programs offer medication management, support groups, and addiction treatment as part of an integrated treatment plan that will provide the real and lasting relief.
Create Recovery Center understands that patients suffering from substance use disorder and mental health conditions are a unique category requiring individualized care. Our dual diagnosis treatment program takes an integrative and holistic approach to each patient to ensure that their addiction is not treated in a vacuum. For those suffering from mental illness, abstinence is never enough. Create Recovery Center provides the resources to ensure that the symptoms of mental health conditions are treated so that they don’t trigger a relapse.
The program also works to ensure that individuals who graduate are prepared to live full and healthy lives in the real world. Dual diagnosis individuals often suffer from difficulties with career, finances, and education. We are committed to readying dual diagnosis patients to achieve their career or educational goals, helping them develop strategies to cope with legal and financial difficulties, and working to heal painful interpersonal rifts among families. Even when patients graduate, they can remain connected to Create Recovery Center’s program and social support system through aftercare services.
Services that patients of Create Recovery Center’s Dual Diagnosis Treatment Program can expect to receive include but are not limited to:
The holistic services provided at Create Recovery Center’s Dual-Diagnosis Treatment Program allow individuals to end the pernicious cycle of substance abuse while simultaneously getting relief from underlying mental health conditions. If you or a loved one is interested in learning more about our treatment modalities and services offered, reach out today. A representative will be more than happy to discuss your unique circumstances and needs.