According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, over nine million Americans suffer from dual diagnosis disorders. These disorders are relatively common among those who struggle with substance abuse and mental illness simultaneously. As you can imagine, treating an addiction while addressing a co-occurring mental health condition is beyond challenging. However, for long-term recovery, addressing them simultaneously is vital.
What are Dual Diagnosis Disorders?
Someone with dual diagnoses has both a mental health disorder and an alcohol or drug abuse problem. About half of people who have a mental disorder will struggle with substance use disorders at some point in their lives and vice versa.
Signs of Co-Occurring Disorders
Although the symptoms of one disorder may predate over the other, both diseases tend to exacerbate each other’s signs. Because of this, it’s impossible to single out every co-occurring disorder symptom. For example, people struggling with depression will try to escape the symptoms by taking prescription opioids or turning to heroin for quick relief.
However, beyond their depression symptoms, they’ll also start experiencing:
- Cravings for the substance of their choice
- Tolerance for the substance of their choice, causing a need for higher doses
- More frequent episodes of mental health symptoms
- More intensive or longer-lasting mental health symptoms
- Withdrawal symptoms
- Dependence and addiction
Why Addiction and Mental Illness Occur Together?
To starters, many believe substance use disorders are, in fact, a mental health condition. Because drugs rewire the brain, leading to psychological dependence. While addiction and mental illness occur together, it doesn’t mean one triggers the other.
Common risk factors that contribute to these conditions include genetics, trauma, and stress. It’s well-known that mental disorders can contribute to substance use disorder, mostly due to self-medication practices. For example, when someone struggles with depression or anxiety, they’re likely to start experimenting with various substances to improve their condition.
However, a combination of issues contributes to the development of mental health disorders and addiction, including:
Genetics: Having a close family member with drug or alcohol addiction can increase someone’s chances of developing a substance abuse problem. The same applies to mental health disorders.
Biology: Unfortunately, some people are wired in a way that makes them prone to substance abuse. Anything from prenatal development, early childhood exposure, or the chemical makeup of someone’s brain can play a role.
Trauma: People who experience sexual abuse, physical abuse, wartime experiences, or a natural disaster can struggle with a trauma that leads to substance abuse.
Environment: Something as simple as living or growing up in a toxic environment can contribute to the development of a substance abuse disorder.
Important Facts About Dual Diagnosis Disorders
Understanding the stretch of dual diagnosis disorders in the general population shows you how common these conditions are. Over 9 million people in the United States live with a co-occurring disease. Yet only 7.5 percent of people enroll in treatment programs. Mental health disorders are the most common cause of disability. At least 1 in 17 Americans struggling with at least one disorder.
Some common co-occurring disorders include:
- Alcoholism and depression
- Cocaine abuse and anorexia
- Heroin addiction and Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Prescription drug dependence and anxiety
Other mental health illnesses that often co-occur with substance use disorders include schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), personality disorders, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). People with co-occurring disorders must look at mental health treatment programs that can address their substance abuse problems simultaneously.
Dual Diagnosis Disorders Treatment
For individuals suffering from dual diagnosis disorders, appropriate and comprehensive treatment is vital. Providing help for individuals struggling with dual diagnosis disorders starts with understanding the link between mental health issues and addiction.
What is Integrated Treatment?
These types of comprehensive rehabilitation programs offer medical, therapeutic, and holistic treatments to help patients heal physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. Living with co-occurring disorders can be life-threatening. Integrated care is one of the most recommended approaches to treat dual diagnosis disorders, regardless of the co-occurring combination.
While specific services will vary upon the needs of each person, most of the time, integrated treatment offers a range of treatment services to the individual, providing the person with everything necessary to heal on all levels.
Beyond treating each condition individually, these programs also promote lifestyle changes that promote health and wellness, including:
- Improving sleep habits
- Working on communication skills
- Improving eating habits and nutritional behaviors
- Working on family relationships
- Addressing work-related issues and improving job skills
- Managing any legal issues
By addressing these issues while also receiving treatment for their conditions, patients have a better chance to return to work, rebuild relationships, and build a strong support network that helps them maintain long-term recovery.
What Do Integrated Treatment Programs Offer?
These types of programs offer individualized attention. At Lighthouse Recovery Institute, our comprehensive treatment programs are tailor-made to meet each individual’s unique needs.
Dual Diagnosis Programs
Evaluation: The first step is to ensure all mental health symptoms are accurately diagnosed. Understanding the exact diagnosis will help develop a more appropriate treatment plan.
Medical Detox: When someone starts the detox process from alcohol or drugs, they’re likely to experience psychological and physical withdrawal symptoms. A comprehensive detox offers medical support and monitoring to assist in the process and stabilize treatment.
Individual Therapy: One-on-one therapy sessions set the foundation for recovery. Having a safe and confidential space to discuss past experiences, struggles, and more is paramount for healing. These individual sessions often use a cognitive-behavioral therapy approach to address the addictive patterns and help patients understand their triggers better and learn new coping mechanisms.
Group Therapy: Most treatment programs will incorporate one or more group settings, including 12-step groups, support groups for those with a dual diagnosis disorder, and other forms of group therapy that help build a supportive community.
Family Therapy: Working with loved ones to rebuild damaged relationships can be an essential aspect of recovery, especially if someone is returning home after treatment. Empowering family members to participate in the treatment process will also allow them to heal uniquely. Family therapy helps build positive communication skills that will help promote healing.
Life Skills Development: Before leaving treatment, many patients enroll in life skills development programs that help them feel prepared to go back to normalcy. In these programs, patients learn necessary skills that can go from how to find a job, how to manage their finances, and how to eat healthily.
Aftercare Support: Co-occurring disorders don’t disappear after treatment. It’s crucial to maintain a comprehensive aftercare plan that includes mental health care, alternative therapies, and ongoing substance abuse relapse prevention treatment.
Can Dual Diagnosis Disorders Be Cured?
Unfortunately, there’s no cure for either mental health disorders or addictions to drugs and alcohol. However, various research-based therapies and treatment options are effective in treating co-occurring disorders.
The key to managing these conditions is to find personalized treatment—comprehensive treatment plans with the ability to adapt and change as needed. Long-term support is also vital to help with long-term sobriety and make continual progress in their journeys in recovery.
Finding the Right Addiction Treatment Center
When it comes to finding a treatment center to address your or your loved one co-occurring disorders, it’s paramount that you start with a rehab center that offers a dual diagnosis treatment.
At Lighthouse Recovery Institute, we offer a comprehensive dual diagnosis program specializing in caring for individuals with co-occurring disorders. As a result, the programs we offer include individual therapy with providers trained in treating mental illness, in addition to group therapy, medication management, holistic services, and family therapy.
To live a healthy, happy life free of the symptoms of mental illness and addiction, finding quality dual diagnosis care is the first step. If you are ready to begin your journey of recovery, please reach out today.