DUAL DIAGNOSIS TREATMENT
Dual diagnosis treatment is the treatment of both addiction and/or alcoholism on the one hand, as well as a separate mental health disorder on the other hand. Addicts and alcoholics can suffer from any one of these disorders, and treating them is just as vital as treating addiction itself.
Addiction Recovery Network believes that co-occurring disorders such as bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety, and personality disorders must be treated in conjunction with the addiction. Our treatment for co-occurring disorders provides a different approach to the addiction recovery by tailoring our treatment program to the individual and the disorder they are suffering from.
If you suffer from mental health and substance abuse you are not alone. Approximately 50% of individuals with mental health disorders also suffer from substance abuse. Many times individuals who have mental health illness will use drugs and/or alcohol to self-medicate. That’s why we tailor our dual diagnosis treatment programs to the individual and provide education during the treatment. By educating the individual on their disorder, it will help them understand why they think or feel a certain way and help prevent relapse. Our goal is simple here, we don’t succeed until each individual is addiction free.
Dual diagnosis, sometimes called “co-occurring disorders” or “comorbidity,” is a crucial part of any addiction treatment program. Likewise, about 1 in every 4 addicts or alcoholics is said to experience clinical depression, anxiety, or another mental health issue.
Dual Diagnosis Disorders
Co-occurring disorders can be any mental or behavioral disease, but they are most often the following:
- Anxiety/Panic Attacks
- Bipolar Disorder
- Schizophrenia/Psychotic Disorders
- Borderline Personality Disorder
When addiction and mental health are both diagnosed in an individual, it is known as dual diagnosis. Addiction Recovery Network specializes in treating individuals who have been diagnosed with addiction and mental health by providing clinicians and therapists, who are experienced in dual diagnosis treatment.
Why Dual Diagnosis Treatment is So Important
The occurrence of mental and behavioral disorders is demonstrated to make recovery much harder for those in addiction treatment. Many addicts use drugs and alcohol to “self-medicate” their conditions. If these conditions go untreated during the course of their sobriety, they often relapse to cope with them. For example, a depressed alcoholic is liable to go back to drinking unless their depression is dealt with.
Because mental health and addiction are so intertwined, is crucial that they be treated equally and at the same time. Quality dual diagnosis treatment will balance traditional addiction treatment with medication, life coaching, and therapeutical services that are specifically tailored to the addict’s mental health issues.
Our dual diagnosis treatment process includes
- Detoxification Support
- Individual Therapy Sessions with a Dedicated Therapist
- Educational Programs for Mental Health and Stress Management
- Ongoing Medical and Clinical Support
- Relapse Prevention
- Trauma Informed Care Sessions
Pre-Existing vs. Substance-Related
One of the difficulties in treating dual diagnosis addicts is recognizing whether their conditions were pre-existing (before drugs and alcohol) or whether addiction induced them. Using substances can certainly lead to symptoms that resemble mental illness. For example:
- Using cocaine causes feelings of grandiosity, which may resemble a manic episode from bipolar disorder
- Benzodiazepines are used to treat anxiety disorders, and withdrawal is known to induce panic attacks as well as feelings of anxiety
- Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant, and long-term use leads to chronic depression
Depending on the substance, it may be difficult to discern the cause and effect relation between drugs and mental health. Many treatment centers will wait until after detox — or even weeks into residential treatment — until treating symptoms of other mental health conditions.
Depression frequently goes hand-in-hand with addiction and alcoholism, and is a major dual diagnosis disorder that rehabilitation centers must accommodate. Many abused drugs actually depress the brain and central nervous system, causing depression on their own or making it worse when it is pre-existent. Chronically depressed addicts also have much higher relapse rates, and many unfortunates also attempt suicide before they can recover.
Depression, Addiction & Treatment
Depression encompasses a number of related mental illnesses that all fall under the category of “depressive disorders.” These include:
- Major depressive disorder: One or more major depressive orders in which an individual is disinterested or cannot derive pleasure from their everyday life.
- Seasonal affective disorder: Two or more depressive episodes that occur specifically during the autumn/winter and tend to resolve by springtime.
- Dysthymia: Depression that is less severe than major depressive disorder, but tends to last longer (at least a few years).
- Double Depression: Chronic dysthymia with intermittent major depressive episodes.
- Depressive disorders can also accompany and be related to bipolar disorder, psychotic disorders and personality disorders.
Facts & Statistics About Depression
- 8.5% of the world’s population suffers from some form of depression
- Depressed women are 2x more likely to cope with their depression with alcohol
- Teens with untreated depression are 2x more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol
- Depression has caused or is linked to about 60% of suicides, and drugs/alcohol are involved in over half of suicide attempts
Depression & Substance Abuse
Abuse and addiction to drugs and alcohol are firmly linked to major bouts of depression, but it is unclear what their exact relationship is. Many alcoholics drink to self-medicate their depression. Many others already exhibited signs of depression, which their drug use exacerbated.
Regardless of which factor caused the other, it is clear that depression is a major obstacle in both active addiction and treatment. Depressed alcoholics are liable to continue drinking if their symptoms are not attended to. Usually, they are treated with a combination of medication (i.e. antidepressants) and therapy. However, these methods do not provide the quick solution that drugs do. They take time to work, and many addicts feel they are too far gone to stay sober.
Dealing with depression and addiction/alcoholism at the same time is difficult, but it is by no means impossible. It requires a dedicated and professional treatment center, as well as commitment and discipline on the part of the addict him or herself.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Post traumatic stress disorder (commonly referred to as PTSD) is a form of anxiety in which an individual undergoes a traumatic experience and is unable to cope with it in an otherwise healthy manner. It can be brought on by anything graphically traumatic to the individual, which varies from person to person. Nevertheless, common causes include sexual assault, experiences in combat and warfare, or any scenario in which a person felt threatened or faced a life-or-death situation.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
A key factor when diagnosing cases of PTSD is that its symptoms are not present until after the traumatic event in question. That is, it is not until someone is assaulted, for example, that they experience flashbacks, nightmares and negative associations with the setting and location of their experience.
Diagnosing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
The criteria for diagnosing PTSD is as follows:
Traumatic Event – Involving BOTH the risk of serious harm to one’s self or others AND a stimulated response of fear and/or helplessness.
Re-Experiencing – Reliving the traumatic event in some way that is pervasive and intrusive, such as flashbacks and nightmares.
Avoidance – Attempting to cope with the trauma through drugs, compulsive behavior, denial, rationalization, or refusing to speak about or avoiding anything that reminds one of it.
Arousal/Agitation – Characteristics that were not present before the traumatic event, such as insomnia, detachment, or outbursts of anger.
Time – PTSD symptoms must be experienced for over a month, or else it is diagnosed as acute stress disorder.
Impairment – These symptoms must prevent the person from functioning as they normally would, inhibiting or altering certain parts of their lives.
Treating Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
PTSD gets worse over time if it is not addressed, and it should be treated as soon as symptoms are recognized. There are many ways to treat post traumatic stress disorder, and no one is more or less effective than another. They include on or a combination of the following:
Medication – There is no currently accepted medication on-label for the treatment of PTSD. However, psychiatrists may prescribe antidepressants, anticonvulsants (if panic attacks are experienced), mood stabilizers, anti-psychotics (if hallucinations or delusions are experienced), or even placebos where they are effective.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) – a broad form of therapy that seeks to change thoughts by changing behavior and vice versa. CBT is considered especially effective for dealing with persistent feelings of shame or guilt.
Exposure Therapy – therapy wherein avoidant behaviors are dealt with by forcing traumatized persons to personally confront their experiences, either gradually or all at once.