What is Dual-Diagnosis Treatment for Addiction?

 In Drug & Alcohol Addiction

Treatment for mental health and addiction can often be confusing for people because they aren’t familiar with the meaning of some terminology. For this reason, many people find searching for addiction therapy and mental health therapy to be confusing and overwhelming. Because many people associate these two terms with separate situations, searching for the appropriate treatment may become so overwhelming that many people give up on the search.

Until the late 1990s, the treatment plan for someone with a mental health problem as well as an addiction was addressed separately. In fact, many people were denied treatment for a mental illness until they were clean and sober. Fortunately, it is now known that addiction and mental disorders often go hand-in-hand; referred to as a CO-OCCURRING DISORDER. Dual diagnosis treatment means those experiencing both a substance abuse problem and a mental health issue can receive combined treatment for both issues.

What is a Co-Occurring Disorder?

A co-occurring disorder or a dual diagnosis means that someone is dealing with both a mental health disorder and an addiction or substance use disorder. For instance, you may be diagnosed with alcohol abuse disorder as well as bipolar disorder. In some situations, a substance use disorder begins first, followed by the development of a mental health illness. For instance, someone with an addiction to meth may begin experiencing symptoms of an anxiety disorder. On the other hand, some people who are dealing with a mental illness may develop a substance use disorder. The theory behind a dual diagnosis is that the symptoms of mental illness aren’t being effectively treated, making the individual physically and emotionally uncomfortable, so they turn to substance use to manage their symptoms. For instance, someone with anxiety may turn to the use of alcohol and/or drugs as a coping mechanism. Unfortunately, when mind-altering substances are being abused, both conditions may worsen.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment

Dual diagnosis treatment is a type of treatment that addresses both disorders simultaneously. Dual diagnosis treatment is critical for identifying and treating both a mental health illness and a substance use disorder; both of which are or may be the underlying source for substance abuse and increasing symptoms of mental illness. Traditionally, substance abuse treatment and mental health treatment were treated separately; dual diagnosis treatment utilizes an integrated program to treat both issues simultaneously, which reduces the risk of symptoms worsening for one problem while treating the other.

There are several ways in which dual diagnosis treatment may be used and since each person has individual needs, the treatment plan will not be the same for everyone. Treatment must be individualized and tailored to the individual in order to accommodate and address the needs and concerns of each person. It is often difficult to pinpoint the primary disorder because each individual case is unique. For instance, emotional instability may result in self-medicating with drugs and/or alcohol in order to calm the psychological pain, whereas some may experience elevated symptoms of mental illness as a result of their substance abuse.

When to Seek Dual Diagnosis Treatment

If you suspect that you or someone you care about may have a mental disorder along with substance use issues, it is important to seek treatment for both issues. When someone is experiencing the symptoms of a dual diagnosis, it is important to not seek substance abuse treatment and then mental health therapy or vice versa. Both issues should be addressed together. Some signs of a dual diagnosis disorder may include:

  • Needing significantly larger doses of drugs or trying different, more intense drugs to get the same high and/or calm symptoms of anxiety, depression or other symptoms of a mental illness
  • Frequent withdrawal symptoms
  • Hiding activities from family and friends
  • Increase in symptoms of mental health disorder when using drugs and/or alcohol
  • Frequent addiction relapses after trying to quit

When searching for a center for addiction therapy, it is important to keep in mind that many with a substance abuse disorder will also need treatment for their mental illness disorder. When both a substance abuse problem and a mental health issue are present, you should seek help from a qualified dual diagnosis treatment center. When a dual diagnosis is present, without seeking treatment for both disorders (substance use and mental health), the treatment may be successful for the disorder being treated; however, the person may quickly resort back to their substance use and/or experience an increase in symptoms of their mental illness. Both must be addressed simultaneously for a successful treatment plan.

Newport Beach Recovery Center Will Help

We know how difficult it may be to yourself or a loved one into a dual-diagnosis program. This is why we are here. Contact us by calling or emailing us for more information. The right help you need is just moments away.

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