Dual Diagnosis

Dual Diagnosis and Addiction Treatment When hearing the word “addict”, what is your first image?  Do you visualize someone with stringy hair, bad teeth, shaky hands, and dirty clothing?  In far too many instances, that image is common today, but not all addicts appear this way. Many attractive, well-dressed, successful people are also addicts. These individuals didn’t intend to become an addict, but their continued substance abuse eventually led to dual diagnosis and addiction.  What this means is there are also emotional or mental problems the addict struggles with such as depression, low self-esteem and financial problems that can create a cycle of allowing personal hygiene and mental well-being to fall to the wayside. Dual diagnosis is the term used to describe co-occurring disorders that contribute to an addict’s decline in physical and mental health, some of which can include underlying emotional and psychological problems that have gone unnoticed for years.

Dual diagnosis treatment programs not only help the individual overcome their addiction, they help the person regain self-confidence and self-esteem they need for remaining abstinent.  Effective programs  provide treatment for these multiple conditions that a person may have whether they were present prior to their addiction, or as a result of the addiction.  Overcoming dual diagnosis will take time, there is no quick fix.

Treating the Physical and Psychological Aspects

When a person is diagnosed with dual diagnosis and addiction, they should be treated for both problems simultaneously in order to achieve successful recovery.  If both problems are not treated, the recovery program will be a waste of time because both problems have contributed to the drug abuse. Some of the disorders that you may see with this complex condition are:

  • Depression
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Anxiety
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
  • Schizophrenia
  • Other personality and psychiatric disorders

This type of condition is fairly common considering that 37% of alcohol abusers and 53% of drug abusers have at least one mental illness, while at least 29% of the diagnosed mentally ill have abused alcohol or drugs. According to the USA National Survey of Drug Use and Health, in 2011 there were over 7.98 million people that fall into the category of dual diagnosis.

Some Examples of Dual Diagnosis Scenarios

When attempting to differentiate between the psychiatric symptoms that are a result of substance abuse and preexisting symptoms, the individual’s background and medical history are a factor.  For instance, there are several scenarios to examine, such as:

  • Alcoholism along with depression
  • Anxiety and social anxiety disorders along with opioid abuse
  • Schizophrenia along with cannabis abuse or other substances
  • Previously treated for ADHD are likely to be vulnerable to addiction
  • Super sensitivity due to genetics or environmental factors
  • Self-medicating to alleviate effects of prescription medications
  • Past treatment with psychiatric medications
  • Poor self-image along with substance abuse
  • Chronic physical illness along with prescription painkillers

In most situations, the psychiatric problem usually develops first.  The person will attempt to use drugs as a way to fit in socially or to make themselves feel better.  Self-medication can eventually become a dependency, turning one problem into two problems.  In other cases, however, the psychiatric disorder may be a direct result of drug or alcohol abuse.  Years of continued drug abuse can sometimes develop into depression, fits of rage, or hallucinations.  Either way, both problems should be treated simultaneously for the most promising chance of a successful recovery.  When beginning this type of therapy, the individual must go through a complete detoxification before they can begin a rehabilitation program.  Until the body is free of cravings, the person will not be able to focus on healing mentally and spiritually, and for this reason, detoxification is required or offered on-site at many facilities.

What Kind of Treatment is Best?

Often, a mental health facility or a substance abuse facility that does not offer dual-diagnosis treatment alone is not equipped to handle dual diagnosis.  Many times, both illnesses are not recognized and therefore, one goes untreated.  Dealing with one or the other alone can be really hard, but if you have addiction and mental health issues, it can be devastating. When one disease goes untreated, the other usually increases.  For example, if you have an alcohol problem and do not get help for that, then the mental problem will more than likely get worse.  In other instances, someone seeking mental health treatment could be excluded if they have had a substance abuse history, and vice verse. It is imperative that both of the disorders be considered primary, and treated concurrently.

With the right treatment, you can overcome both diseases and live a healthy life again.  Your best option is to seek a facility that is trained and equipped to handle dual-diagnosis clients.  In these types of programs you relax in a secure environment with staff available 24/7 to provide the support and guidance you need.  An important aspect of the program is that you be allowed to take part in choosing an approach to treatment that you feel comfortable with.  Each track in the program should have an explicit goal for you to achieve daily in order to keep you focused and moving forward toward recovery.

An effective dual diagnosis treatment program offers addicts a chance to discover who they really are, and helps them develop physical strength and a new set of ethics, values and principles to apply in the real world when they attempt to reclaim their place in society.  Daily exercise, martial arts, massage therapy, nutritious meals, vitamin therapy, meditation, yoga, and group or individual counseling are some the ways a client can achieve the mental and physical empowerment to remain substance-free for life.

Healing the Mind, Body, and Spirit for Lasting Success

Taking back control of your life from years of addiction and abuse can begin with the decision to seek help.  Healing of the mind, body, and spirit can begin with a treatment program that is designed to fit the needs of your unique and individual addiction.  Call us today to begin the path to a life free of addiction, or to get more information on dual diagnosis treatment.

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