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A Breakdown on Dual Diagnosis

September 06, 2022

Understanding the Reasons for Drug and Alcohol Misuse

The reasons that someone may start abusing drugs or alcohol are as varied as the individuals themselves. Many times it may not be just one reason or another but a combination of reasons that result in substance use. They may initially be curious as to the effects that drugs or alcohol will have on them, or they may have curiosity because they have seen friends or family drink or use drugs. They may be bored and just looking for a way to fill their time. They may start using so they can fit in with their friends, or because of an underlying undiagnosed physical or mental condition.

Self-Medicating and the Link between Addiction and Mental Health Issues

Having an underlying physical or mental condition and drinking or using drugs to alleviate its symptoms is called self-medicating. This often leads to the development of alcohol or drug addiction. People who self-medicate to ease the symptoms of another condition are frequently unaware of the existence of their underlying condition. They only know that when they use drugs or alcohol, they feel better. They use substances as a solution to their issues and, in doing so, they actually wind up creating greater problems for themselves.

For people who self medicate, it’s important to get help for their underlying condition if they want to lead a sober and productive life. In the past, substance use and mental health treatment were viewed as separate conditions. People who suffered from both were often only treated for their addiction, which left their mental health issues unchecked. Eventually this caused them to return to drug or alcohol abuse.

What is Dual Diagnosis?

Dual diagnosis is still in its infancy as a concept and many people misunderstand it. The term is used to describe a person who suffers from both an addiction, whether that be to alcohol, drugs, gambling, etc., and a coexisting psychiatric disorder. This person has two illnesses that may exacerbate one another, but need to be treated separately.

For instance, many people who get clean suffer from some sort of depression, obsessive-compulsiveness, or anxiety. In time, these things go away as their recovery takes hold. But for someone who has both addiction and an underlying condition, the symptoms will not go away just because they are sober. If their mental health issues are not dealt with properly, they are at a much greater risk for relapse. They are likely to return to their only known solution for dealing with their symptoms.

The Importance of Dual Diagnosis Treatment

The most important thing for a person who has both an addiction and underlying psychiatric condition is that they receive the proper diagnosis. Without dealing with both the addiction and the psychiatric condition, sustained recovery is usually exceedingly difficult.

Treatment of this kind started in the 1990s when experts began to recognize the importance of treating addiction and mental health issues separately. They found that about a third of the people who were suffering from a mental illness also had substance abuse problems. In addition, about half with a severe mental illness also had a substance abuse issue. The high correlation between mental health issues and addiction led to a closer examination that resulted in a treatment approach that addressed both issues separately.

A treatment program that offers help for both addiction and mental health disorders is in many ways like a traditional drug treatment program. The difference is there is a higher level of care in regards to psychiatric diagnoses. A treatment program of this kind will have professionals who are trained in diagnosing underlying mental conditions, and there will be a greater amount of psychotherapy and medication available if necessary.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment Process

If you are looking for a treatment program that offers this sort of care, you can expect the process to look like this:

Detox: Before anything can occur in terms of a dual diagnosis or recovery, a person must first safely quit the drugs or alcohol they are using. Detox is the first step so they can continue their treatment with a mind and body free from substances.

Inpatient Rehab: Inpatient treatment is the bulk of the recovery plan for people who want to get sober and manage their underlying mental health issues. During this part of the program, they will be introduced to the ideas of recovery, and they will meet with therapists and psychiatrists in order to begin the process of dealing with their mental health.

Introduction to Support Groups Once a person completes their inpatient rehab, they often attend outpatient group therapy a few times a week. While they are in outpatient settings, clients are encouraged to continue to go to support groups like AA or NA and to see a therapist and psychiatrist.

Dual diagnosis care can be complicated, but with the right form of treatment, education, and medication (if needed), recovery from both is not only possible but probable. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction and a mental health condition, it is important to seek help and find a treatment program that offers care for both.

Call The Counseling Center For Addiction and Mental Health Treatment

Dual diagnosis is a complex issue that requires specialized treatment to address both addiction and underlying mental health conditions. Seeking help for both is crucial to achieving sustained recovery and living a sober and productive life. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction and a mental health condition, it’s important to know help is available. The Counseling Center is a reputable facility that provides specialized treatment for dual diagnosis. To learn more and get the help you need, call 866-850-5001 today.

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