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How Dual Diagnosis Addiction Treatment Saves Addicts Lives

dual diagnosis addiction

Dual Diagnosis Addiction Treatment

Dual Diagnosis Treatment Center

Less than 30 years ago, mental health treatment and substance abuse treatment were thought of and treated separately. Just before the dual diagnosis addiction treatment began to gain popularity, we were still living in the “Just Say No” era. The war on drugs, mandatory minimums and the idea that addiction was a choice was widely accepted practices. Today we know better. Additionally, the medical community is also taking much better care of addicted individuals who have a primary diagnosis in mental health and secondary diagnosis in substance abuse. We are now finally helping these individuals. Additionally, over 50% of alcoholics and drug addicts have a co-occurring mental disorder and meet the dual diagnosis definition.

Choosing The Best Dual Diagnosis Treatment Program

Dual diagnosis is defined by the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA) as a term used to describe an individual with a mood disorder such as schizophrenia, depression or bipolar disorder and a problem with alcohol or drugs. Although substance abuse treatment has been around for over 100 years, the dual diagnosis didn’t become accepted until the mid-1980s.

Before the practice of dual diagnosis treatment programs, people with a mental health disorder and a substance abuse disorder had to receive different treatment from different doctors. Most times, the drug and alcohol rehabs would not treat a patient with a mental health disorder at all, and many who did treat addicts with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder would only do so once the patient had completed and was in control of their mental health disorder.

This separation of chemical dependency and state of mind was very problematic. First, those with mental health issues have proven to be very sensitive to the effects of drugs and alcohol, and are often more likely to develop a dependency. Once an alcoholic with mental health difficulties begins using substances habitually, the drugs and alcohol also work to exacerbate the mental health condition.

Today dual diagnosis is widely accepted and also produces favorable results.


Dual Diagnosis Treatment Center

Patients with a dual diagnosis are generally high-risk patients. Dealing with all the challenges of mental illness is extremely difficult. When accompanied by a substance abuse problem, the suffering individual may spiral out of control. It is at these very vulnerable moments where instances of suicide and violent outbursts can occur.

Those with bipolar disorder or other mental health challenges often self-medicate with drugs or alcohol. When an addict stops using those substances generally, the mental health difficulties increase. Thus, having a plan for mental health and substance use disorder under one roof is paramount to recovery.

A patient with a dual diagnosis can be challenging to treat. A misdiagnosis could cause more harm to a patient who may only be suffering from drug addiction.  Thus, it is essential to know the signs and symptoms of a person with a mental illness and a substance abuse problem.

Symptoms of A Dual Diagnosis Patient

Since there are various combinations of mental health disorders and chemical dependency disorders, the symptoms of dual-diagnosis patients vary greatly. Below is a comprehensive list of symptoms that cover most co-occurring mental health and drug and alcohol patients.

  • Use of chemicals substances in hazardous situations.
  • Participating in high-risk behaviors while under the influence.
  • Abrupt changes in mood or behavior.
  • Inability to control quantity and duration of chemical use.
  • Withdrawing from family, friends, and colleagues.
  • Increased tolerance and development of withdrawal symptoms.
  • Thoughts or feelings that substances help to facilitate daily functions.
  • Participating in activities outside of healthy behaviors to continue to use.

If a patient receives a mental health diagnosis by both a mental health therapist and a chemical dependency counselor that the patient would benefit from a dual diagnosis treatment. The next step is to find a treatment facility that offers intensive outpatient treatment or inpatient treatment. One must be sure that the facility their loved one will be attending knows how to treat both disorders properly.

What is Dual Diagnosis?

The most popular form of dual diagnosis addiction treatment is called Integrated Intervention. With this approach, the patient receives care for both chemical dependency and mental illness at the same time. Because of the vast number of mental illnesses, it is essential to know that each dual diagnosis treatment will be highly individualized based on the co-occurring disease that the patients present. However, treatment centers specializing in dual diagnosis treatment will begin with detoxification.

Steps to Treating Mental Illness and Substance Abuse


1. Detoxification

Often a person addicted to drugs and alcohol will need a detox.  Generally, for a period of about seven days, the patient tapers off drugs and alcohol. In mental health cases, this time also allows the patient to modify their medications, if necessary. 

2. Addiction Rehabilitation

Patients with severe mental illness and substance abuse issues tend to act out without substances. For this reason, drug addicts and mental illness patients should receive treatment in a drug or alcohol rehab. Generally, patients will participate in group therapy and learn the techniques and coping skills required to sustain recovery from their co-occurring disorders. Also, patients receive individual treatment to process the underlying issues attributing to their drug or alcohol use.

3. Proper Use of Medications

Medications can frequently become the cornerstone of recovery from a mental illness. Recently, drugs such as naltrexone have also helped to curb cravings from substance abuse. Licensed and accredited dual diagnosis facilities generally have the doctors on site. Additionally, doctors have experience with ensuring that the right medication protocol is in place for each patient. 

4. Support Groups

Support groups are a crucial element of long-term recovery. As a result, there are a growing number of support groups for individuals who have mental illnesses. These groups are also a way to continue therapy in between sessions with a licensed psychotherapist. Organizations such as Alcoholics Anonymous have also seen great success in helping treat drug and alcohol addiction. Generally, AA is in almost every city in the United States.

Find A Drug Rehab Near You

Today science and medicine are helping people with a mental illness and substance abuse problem heal from addiction. As a result, our mental health program integrates the components necessary for patients who struggle with multiple issues simultaneously. For more information on types of addiction treatment, click here. Additionally, to see if Dual diagnosis addiction treatment at Lighthouse Recovery Institute is right for you, call and speak to our staff.