It’s only somewhat recently that we began to understand addiction as a disease. Before the accumulation of research that’s allowed us to develop more effective treatments, addiction was widely believed to be a moral affliction. In fact, addicts were regarded with absolutely no sympathy; instead, they were seen as merely being bad people who were weak of character and will. As a result, individuals who suffered from addictions to alcohol or other mind-altering substances were subjected to basically the same inhuman treatment as individuals who suffered from mental and emotional disorders. In most cases, these individuals were relegated to insane asylums or prisons where they continued to suffer rather than receive treatment for their afflictions. In effect, society essentially tossed them to the side, locking them up and leaving them to their own devices.
Fortunately, we have a much better understanding of addiction today. We know that addicts aren’t bad people, but rather they’re individuals suffering from a disease that forces them to act against their own best interests and better judgment. However, that’s not to say that addiction was an easy disease to understand. On the contrary, addiction is a very complicated, almost enigmatic illness that’s at once both physical and psychological rather than being one or the other like any other disease. This has made it much more difficult to treat addiction since an effective mode of treatment must address the physical and psychological aspects of addiction, which often involves using a number of different methods to target the various effects.
While being both a physical and psychological illness, addiction has a very strong basis in behavior. In short, a person would be unable to become an addict if he or she didn’t begin to abuse alcohol or drugs. However, nobody ever intends to become an addict. Most individuals begin abusing substances in order to obtain relief from physical or psychological pain. In fact, there are many individuals who develop addictions due to using substance abuse to self-medicate due to a preexisting mental disorder, which is reflected in the fact that a large percentage of addicts also suffer from comorbid, or co-occurring, psychological disorders. Therefore, the following will discuss the dual-diagnosis support for individuals suffering from addiction and a secondary diagnosis, describing what dual-diagnosis treatment is and identifying some of the psychological disorders that are most commonly treated in these programs.
What Exactly is Dual-Diagnosis Support?
Although there’s a strong physical component to alcoholism and drug addiction, there are many aspects of addiction that make it similar to mental and emotional disorders. When a person develops an addiction, substance abuse becomes central to his or her life. In fact, it’s sometimes referred to as a substance use disorder due to the disease’s similarities to an obsession or fixation; however, an addict is compelled to consume alcohol or drugs in order to keep withdrawal symptoms at bay, causing a sense of frantic desperation. Additionally, many individuals begin abusing alcohol or drugs as a means of self-medicating due to their experiencing psychological distress. This is what makes it especially common for individuals suffering from mental and emotional disorders to develop addictions. When this occurs, these individuals need special support in the form of treatments that address both their addictions and their psychological disorders. The programs that address both diagnoses are referred to as dual-diagnosis programs.
Disorders That Have High Comorbidity with Addiction
According to research, the disorders that have been found to most frequently occur alongside addiction are mood and anxiety disorders. For instance, many individuals who suffer from anxiety begin using substance abuse in order to alleviate their anxiety. Unfortunately, this often makes their anxiety worse as the substance abuse doesn’t actually treat the anxiety; rather, the individual simply numbs them with intoxication temporarily. It’s also especially common for individuals suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder to turn to substance abuse as a means of coping, especially when they have a history of being victims of violent or sexual abuse. Alternately, a variety of mood disorders have high rates of comorbidity with alcoholism and drug addiction, including major depression and bipolar disorder. In fact, there are many individuals who experience improvements in the symptoms of their addictions as well as their mood or anxiety disorders by taking antidepressants due to their psychological disorders have contributed to the development of their addictions.
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Addiction is a very serious illness that has claimed the lives of many good people. However, nobody needs to continue suffering from alcoholism or drug addiction. If you or someone you love would benefit from learning more about addiction treatment or dual-diagnosis programs, call Recovery Hub 888-220-4352. Whether it’s day or night, call us anytime for a free consultation and assessment. Don’t become another casualty of addiction; begin the journey toward a better, healthier you with just one phone call.