Dual Diagnosis Addiction Treatment
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. Where the war on drugs, mandatory minimums and the idea that addiction was a choice were widely accepted practices. Today we know better and are 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. Furthermore, it is estimated that 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 who has a mood disorder such as schizophrenia, depression or bipolar disorder and a problem with alcohol or drugs. Even though treatment for substance abuse and alcoholism 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 successfully 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 many times more likely to develop a dependency. In addition, 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 practiced and producing very promising results.
Dual Diagnosis Treatment Center
Patients with a dual diagnosis are considered by the institutions charged with their care to be 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 those substances are removed the mental health difficulties increase, as do the cravings for drugs and alcohol. This is why dual diagnosis is so important and having a plan for both bipolar disorder and substance use disorder under one roof is paramount to recovery.
A patient with a dual diagnosis can be very difficult to treat. A misdiagnosis could cause more harm to a patient who may only be suffering from drug addiction. To make sure that one is indeed suffering from a co-occurring disorder, it is important to know the signs and symptoms of a person with a mental illness and a substance abuse problem.
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Symptoms of A Dual Diagnosis Patient
Due to the fact that there are so many combinations of mental health disorders and chemical dependency disorders the symptoms of dual diagnosis patients have a tendency to 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 and/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 are required to facilitate daily functions.
- Participating in activities outside of normal behaviors to continue use.
Once it is confirmed 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 the man or woman intensive outpatient treatment or inpatient treatment. One must be sure that the facility there loved one will be attending knows how to properly treat both disorders.
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 important to know that each dual diagnosis treatment will be highly individualized based on the co-occurring illness that the patients present. However, treatment centers specializing in dual diagnosis treatment will begin with detoxification.
Steps to Treating Mental Illness and Substance Abuse
Often a person addicted to drugs and alcohol will need a detox. Here, for a period of about 7 days, the patient is tapered off drugs and alcohol. In cases of mental health, this would also be the time where the proper medications would be discussed and modified or administered if needed.
2. Addiction Rehabilitation
Patients with severe mental illness and substance abuse issues tend to act out violently and or sexually when substances are removed. For this reason, all drug and mental illness treatments should be performed in a drug or alcohol rehab. Patients will participate in group therapy and learn the techniques and coping skills required to enter recovery from their co-occurring disorders.
3. Proper Use of Medications
Medications can oftentimes 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 will have the doctors on site. These doctors are experienced with ensuring that the right medication is prescribed to the right patient.
4. Support Groups
There are a growing number of support groups for individuals suffering from mental illness around the country. These groups are 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. AA can be found in almost every city in the United States.
Today science and medicine are helping people afflicted with a mental illness and substance abuse problem recover. Dual diagnosis addiction treatment at Lighthouse Recovery Institute is saving addicts lives!