Understanding Dual Diagnosis Treatment For Addiction

What Does It Mean To Be Dual Diagnosis?

If you are diagnosed with a mental health disorder such as clinical depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, etc. as well as an addictive disorder, this would be considered a dual diagnosis. Other terms frequently used are co-occurring disorder and comorbid disorder.

In the past, persons who suffered from addiction combined with a mental disorder had difficulty getting adequate treatment. Sometimes, they were unable to get treatment at all. It was common for drug treatment programs to turn away persons with severe or active mental disorders. And, it was also common for mental health facilities to deny treatment to addicts until they were clean and sober. As a result, many people slipped through the cracks.

Getting treatment for a disorder or the other simply isn’t sufficient. Both disorders seem to go hand in hand. For people dealing with a mental health issue such as anxiety or bipolar disorder, for example, using drugs or alcohol is often a form of self-medicating. Without addressing the mental health symptoms, the chances of relapse and a return to active addiction are high.

Treating mental health symptoms without also treating addiction isn’t effective, either. Drug and alcohol use often exacerbates mental health disorder symptoms.

It is important to treat both issues alongside each other. This is what dual diagnosis treatment does.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment Centers

In the recent past, and in some cases even today, there is a stigma in the recovery world when it comes to medications. People who are in twelve step programs sometimes frown on the use of psych medications and many treatment centers will not allow medications to be dispensed to clients, even if they are prescribed and deemed necessary. This stigma has been a barrier to treatment for many who have diagnosed mental disorders that require medication.

A dual diagnosis treatment center understands that many people must be on medication in order to remain stable and be productive members of society. These treatment centers also understand the role that therapy plays in the recovery process, and that all aspects of a person’s health must be addressed in order for recovery to take place.

In a dual diagnosis treatment center, the focus will be on stabilizing the client and developing an individualized plan to address their mental health and their addiction. If physical dependence is an issue, detox services will be employed.

Abstinence from drugs for a period of weeks is often necessary before an accurate assessment of the person’s mental health can take place. Because drugs and alcohol can either make symptoms worse or cover them up, it is important to get some time clean and sober to have a clearer picture of what needs to be done next.

After a period of abstinence, it may be time to address medications and make any necessary changes or adjustments. Getting stabilized on meds can take time.

doctor caring for patient

Dual Diagnosis Treatment Therapy

Most treatment centers offer individual counseling and group therapy. The focus is generally on addiction, education about addiction, relapse prevention, and life skills. These are all valuable features of treatment, but they leave out many of the components that are necessary to address mental health issues. Specific therapies designed to address mental health issues are also a part of dual diagnosis treatment.

There may be groups on topics such as healthy ways to deal with depression symptoms, how to cope with an anxiety attack without resorting to drugs. There may be educational groups about responsible medication use.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is used in many treatment centers and has been shown to be effective in mental health settings as well. Dialectic behavioral therapy (DBT) may also be used. There is a big focus on self-care and self-awareness.

Mental Health And Self-Advocacy

People who come into treatment for dual diagnosis often suffer from extremely low self-esteem. They may also have trouble advocating for themselves. They may be used to doing what family members and doctors tell them, and have given up on making decisions or speaking up. It is important that people who are dealing with mental disorders and addiction learn how to get help when they need it, ask for what they need and be able to communicate clearly to doctors and other caregivers so that they can be active participants in their own treatment.

Finding A Dual Diagnosis Treatment Center

If you are dealing with a mental health disorder and you are also struggling with substance abuse, a dual diagnosis treatment center can help. In addition to disorders such as bipolar and depression, issues such as PTSD and eating disorders are also treated at these facilities. To be connected with a dual diagnosis treatment center in your area, contact Recovery Hub at 888-220-4352 and get started today.

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