Many people who struggle with substance abuse also have a co-occurring mental health disorder. Sometimes, mental health issues may even drive a person’s substance abuse in an attempt to self-medicate. Getting help for both issues at the same time is extremely important for a successful recovery, as treating one but not the other can lead to relapse. When both a mental health diagnosis and a substance abuse diagnosis are treated together, it is known as dual diagnosis treatment.
People who are suffering from mental health issues and substance abuse can benefit from dual diagnosis treatment. Co-occurring mental health issues can include depression, anxiety, PTSD, bipolar disorder, ADHD, obsessive-compulsive disorder, schizophrenia, and others. Many quality rehab centers are staffed with professional therapists or psychiatrists who are able to identify and understand the issues that can exacerbate addiction. With the right help, you or your loved one can begin to heal from both diagnoses at once, giving you a better chance at a successful recovery. Choosing a rehab facility that offers dual diagnosis treatment is an important step toward lasting sobriety.
Types of Co-Occurring Mental Health Diagnoses
People that suffer from drug or alcohol addiction often have one or more other underlying mental health issues as well. Sometimes these problems occur before the individual becomes addicted; other times, they occur afterward. Whether they occur before or after, it is very important that these issues are not ignored during treatment for substance abuse.
The most common issues that co-occur with substance abuse are depression, anxiety, and PTSD. If an individual is treated for substance abuse, but these underlying issues are not addressed, that person may risk relapse. For example, a person who drinks excessively to manage their untreated PTSD symptoms such as flashbacks or anxiety may be able to successfully complete a substance abuse rehab program. However, if the PTSD remains untreated, they will continue to experience anxiety and other negative symptoms until they are addressed. Because the issues that caused the excessive drinking in the first place haven’t been resolved, it is likely that substance abuse will continue when the symptoms become unmanageable, even after a period of being sober.
Most dual diagnosis patients will be treated for one or more of the following in addition to their addiction treatment:
Depression: Depression is a disorder that can often cause a person to turn to drugs or alcohol to cope. A person with depression may exhibit feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and emptiness. They may also experience a lack of motivation, changes in sleep patterns, and weight loss or gain. Drugs or alcohol may be used as a method to manage or forget about emotions, but these are temporary and ultimately may make the issue worse. Getting treatment for both depression and substance abuse at the same time can improve your life in many domains.
Anxiety: People that suffer from anxiety often experience feelings of panic, nervousness, or fear. In order to cope with these feelings, some people turn to drugs or alcohol as a way to self-medicate. Substance abuse may alleviate anxiety temporarily, but it can actually make anxiety worse by sending them down an addictive path that can be very difficult to come back from.
PTSD: One of the most common co-occurring issues for people struggling with addiction is PTSD. This can occur long before a person turns to drugs, or it can appear afterward. If the effects of PTSD are left untreated, even those that get help for substance abuse can continue to have serious issues that unfortunately lead to relapse. It is extremely important that PTSD is treated alongside any substance abuse problems in order for an individual to overcome the issues that could cause them to relapse. No matter how or when a person experiences trauma or PTSD, whether it be as a child or an adult, it must be addressed with dual diagnosis treatment.
Bipolar Disorder: Personality disorders such as bipolar disorder commonly occur with addiction simultaneously. Bipolar disorder occurs without the presence of drugs or alcohol, although substance use may exacerbate the symptoms. This makes it important for the client to have bipolar disorder treated, perhaps through medication and therapy, alongside treatment for substance abuse. If these types of personality disorders are not treated alongside substance addiction, then the risk of relapse is much higher. It is crucial that people suffering from these disorders in addition to addiction get the help they need through a proper dual diagnosis program.
Dual Diagnosis Treatments
There are several dual diagnosis treatment therapies that have been proven successful. A few of these therapies are:
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: CBT is helpful for those that suffer from depression or anxiety. In this type of therapy, a patient will learn how to identify the automatic negative thoughts that many people experience. After identifying these thoughts, a therapist helps the client learn to address the thoughts and develop healthy coping skills.
Dialectical Behavioral Therapy: DBT is similar to CBT and is useful for people who experience intense emotions. This therapy focuses on regulating emotions, developing interpersonal skills, working on distress tolerance, and improving mindfulness. During this type of therapy, people may also create positive goals to improve their lives.
EMDR: Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing is a treatment based on the idea that the mind has the ability to heal itself. The treatment helps patients process trauma. It can allow people to heal from past experiences that may have been painful or traumatic.
Importance of Dual Diagnosis Treatment
If you or your loved one have mental health issues and co-occurring substance abuse problems, dual diagnosis treatment is crucial. Using a comprehensive approach, you can get help with addiction as well as underlying problems that may have led to substance abuse in the first place.
Quality rehab centers will focus on therapy for both addiction and mental health instead of treating one and ignoring the other. By treating all aspects of a person’s addiction, they will be better prepared to deal with the future.
Dual Diagnosis Treatment Can Help You Live a Sober Life
Dual diagnosis treatment is a crucial part of the recovery process for people who have mental health issues and addiction problems. If underlying issues like depression or anxiety are left untreated, they can result in relapse, no matter how effective their addiction rehab is. Treatment of the whole individual, not just one single issue, is important for true healing and recovery.
No matter how difficult your journey has been up to this point, know that there is specialized help available today. Reach out now and begin getting the help you deserve.