Dual diagnosis refers to a person that is suffering from substance use disorder in addition to an underlying psychiatric or mental health issue. While alcoholism and drug addiction are themselves mental disorders, many people that are experiencing addiction also have co-occurring mental health disorders.
Understanding Dual Diagnosis
Research shows that an individual with a mental health disorder is more likely to also abuse substances. Statistics show that individuals with serious psychiatric disorders are almost twice as likely to experience addiction to substances, as over 8.5 million Americans have co-occurring disorders.
Many medical professionals attribute the link between mental health disorders and substance use as the underlying trigger for addiction. Oftentimes, treatment centers aren’t adequately equipped to treat co-occurring disorders and fail to address the true source of addiction. Facilities that offer this treatment are capable of treating individuals with both substance use disorders and mental health disorders.
Common Co-Occurring Disorders
With treatment for co-occurring disorders, medical professionals at the treatment facility are able to address all underlying mental health issues in addition to any substance use disorder, ensuring both are properly treated. Being able to target every aspect of an individual’s addiction and mental health are essential to a full recovery.
While substance use disorders refer to an addiction to any substance, individuals diagnosed with co-occurring disorders may have a variety of underlying mental health conditions.
The following mental health disorders are commonly linked to substance use disorders:
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder
- Generalized anxiety disorder
- Social anxiety
- Panic disorder
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Bipolar disorder
- Major depression
Though not every person with a substance use disorder has an underlying mental illness, there is an undeniable link between the two. Many professionals believe that certain brain imbalances exist in individuals that have been diagnosed with mental health disorders. These imbalances can contribute to an individual being more likely to abuse substances.
Oftentimes, individuals turn to substance use to self-medicate their mental illness, whether or not is has been properly diagnosed. Coincidentally, an individual may also unintentionally trigger symptoms of their mental health disorder through substance use.
Treating Co-Occurring Disorders
When treating co-occurring disorders, medical professionals must use specialized treatment.
Any treatment program for co-occurring disorders must start with an evaluation of the individual to determine the diagnosis, as well as identify their specific needs. With the initial evaluation, a treatment plan will be created to address any psychiatric disorder, in addition to substance use.
While some individuals with substance use disorders are aware they may have an underlying mental health issue, others may receive their first mental health diagnosis.
Depending on the individual, the following treatment may be used:
Part of any diagnosis treatment, individual therapy is key in treating co-occurring disorders as this therapy addresses substance abuse issues, in addition to symptoms related to psychiatric disorders.
Behavioral therapy or cognitive-behavioral therapy aims to help an individual recognize their attitudes, thoughts, and behavior in relation to their co-occurring disorders—allowing them to determine what changes should be made to their behavior.
Medication is often used to treat symptoms of substance use disorders, in addition to the symptoms for mental health issues.
While the specific medication used will vary based on the individual and their particular mental illness and substance use disorder, these medications can include antipsychotics, antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications, mood stabilizers, and detox medications.
Group Therapy and Family Therapy
In addition to individual therapy, group therapy is often used in treatment for individuals with mental disorders and substance use issues. Family therapy offers support for the loved ones of individuals with co-occurring disorders.
Treatment for co-occurring disorders often implements holistic treatment. A holistic approach addresses treating an individual as a whole rather than solely targeting their symptoms. Holistic treatment focuses on meeting an individual’s spiritual, psychological, and physical needs.
Amethyst Recovery’s Dual Diagnosis Program
Amethyst Recovery Center is a treatment facility capable of diagnosing and treating these co-occurring disorders. Our dual diagnosis addiction treatment aims to guide clients through recovery while setting goals for once treatment is completed. Some clients may be referred to an outside clinician after completing our program to continue treatment for their co-occurring disorders.
With Amethyst’s residential program, clients receive individually-tailored treatment plans to guide them through every level of care. Nurses are on call 24 hours a day, offering optimum care for every client’s needs. Clients remain in the facility for the entirety of their treatment during this stabilization period before they transition into outpatient care.
Treatment facilities like Amethyst Recovery Center are an essential part of treating co-occurring disorders. This treatment must expertly utilize both mental health services and addiction treatment for clients to fully enter into recovery. If you need more information on our treatment programs, don’t hesitate to contact us today.