Did you know that over 80% of people who suffer from addiction also struggle with a mental disorder? This matrimony is called a co-occurring disorder, and up until the last decade or so, it has been largely unrecognized, and untreated.
However, with the explosion of substance abuse and overdose rates, many people are starting to pay attention. This is why dual diagnosis treatment plans and facilities have started to play such a vital role in the rehabilitation of addicts and alcoholics.
What is a Dual Diagnosis?
When a person suffers from a substance abuse disorder as well as a mental health disorder, they are considered to have a dual diagnosis. This can range from all sorts of mental health disorders such as:
- Depression and Anxiety
- Bipolar Spectrum
- ADHD and ADD
- Eating Disorders
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
- General Social Anxieties
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
The list goes on, and it is very common for people who struggle with substance abuse to also have one or many of these mental or mood disorders.
It is common in Dual Diagnosis for the substance abuse to either be the cause or the effect of the mental health disorders, as people could turn to drugs to alleviate their mental states, while on the other hand, people can develop these mental states due to their drug use.
The Mirror Effect
People who suffer from co-occurring disorders can often be particularly tricky to treat. This is why, for so long, many rehabilitation centers and hospitals weren’t aware of or focused on this whole view recovery.
As previously mentioned, many of the symptoms of substance abuse disorder and these mental health disorders can mirror and shadow each other, causing many people with a primary substance abuse disorder to have their mental health disorder go untreated.
Similarly, many people who have a more glaring mental health disorder will often not see their drug use as the problem, especially if the drug was prescribed for the mental issue, for example,
- and even other substances such as alcohol and marijuana.
Dual Diagnosis Treatment
There are now qualified, certified, and experienced treatment facilities out there that specialize in the treatment of people who have a dual diagnosis. The treatment plans are very different than that of a strictly substance abuse or mental health facility.
It is very common for people who have co-occurring disorders to require a longer stay in treatment, in order to be able to focus on both the substance abuse as well as the mental health. This is often due to the fact that their mental states will get worse before they get better.
Due to the fact that many of these people have been using drugs or alcohol to numb the pain of trauma, animate them if they are depressed, relax them if they are anxious, or simply to slow down the racing thoughts. When these substances are removed, a person with a dual diagnosis will often take a long time to feel comfortable enough to work their mental and mood disorders.
Integrated Treatment Plans
In order to be able to combat both the substance abuse and the mental health disorders, experienced therapists and physicians at a dual diagnosis treatment center will create a specialized, integrated treatment plan for each person.
Primarily focused on allowing the person to work through their dual diagnosis and learn to live a healthy lifestyle, these treatment plans often fall around:
- Clear Cut Goals
- Create organized and achievable short term and long term goals
- Discussing the steps and processes involved in reaching these goals
- This allows the person to recognize what they value in life, where they wish to succeed, and the responsibilities that will be required of them.
- Decision-Making Processes
- Many people who struggle with mental health disorders have a difficult time standing up for themselves, promoting their own needs, and making healthy decisions.
- Practicing this with a therapist and case management team allows them to investigate both sides of every choice, and be able to come to the best outcome for themselves and their recovery.
- Psychosocial Support
- case management – will interact with the family, any legal matters that need to be addressed, schooling, aftercare, government assistance, etc.
- family education – addiction and mental disorders are often genetic or family oriented, by keeping the family educated and involved, it allows for a smoother process once the person graduates from the program.
- medication management – more often than not, people with dual diagnosis will require medication after treatment, this area teaches them the importance of careful and healthy medication choices to prevent a possible future relapse.
- life skills – dual diagnosis disorders can often result in dysfunctional personal care routines. This area teaches the benefits of everything from hygiene to maintaining a clean home, to interpersonal relationships.
- Healthy Social Interaction
- By encouraging healthy amounts of social interaction, people will learn how they interact with others without the use of substances.
- Motivational Techniques
- Studies have shown that people recovering from dual diagnosis succeed more when given positive, motivational support. When this comes from not only the staff but from their peers and social interactions, it internally validates a positive view of the person themselves.
- Meeting Clients Where They Are (some recover faster than others)
- Some people take longer than others, and that is okay. The main goal in dual diagnosis programs is to meet everyone where they are and stay with them every step of the way.
- This way, everyone knows their worth, and everyone has the same opportunities to succeed.
It is not easy to overcome a dual diagnosis, but with the advancements that have been made in the mental health field, there has been a lot of progress, and a lot of recovery.