When an individual shows symptoms of both a mental illness as well as a substance use disorder (SUD), he/she is said to be living with a serious condition known as dual diagnosis. The condition comprises any combination, such as cocaine addiction and bipolar disorder (BD); alcoholism and PTSD; opioid use disorder and depression; marijuana addiction and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD); etc. Also referred to as co-existing or co-occurring disorders, the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), revealed that around 8.1 million Americans suffered from these in the past year. In fact, both the mental illness and addiction feed on each other and wreak havoc in an individual’s life. In order to get the right treatment, it is important that people struggling with a SUD are screened regularly for mental health disorders and vice versa.
Studies have shown that either of the two, that is, a SUD or a mental illness, can surface first. A severe mental illness may drive an individual to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol to alleviate the symptoms of anxiety and depression or whichever form of mental disorder he/she may be afflicted with. On the other hand, substance abuse is known to impact moods, thoughts and alter brain chemistry and behavior adversely, leading to the development of mental health disorders. For example, someone can be addicted to drugs, alcohol, or both, and have psychiatric disorders, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder (BD), depression, borderline personality disorder (BPD), or panic disorder, among others.
Additionally, research has revealed that men are strikingly more susceptible to suffer from co-existing disorders than women. Other sections of the society, which are prone to this condition include veterans, individuals from lower social and economic groups, and those with more general medical illnesses. However, if an individual’s reward and stress functions, which are strongly linked to addiction, suffer an impairment, it could also make them vulnerable to the development of dual diagnosis.
Experts in psychology and mental health say that genes and other hereditary factors may put individuals at the risk of developing an addiction and a mental health disorder, besides there is a great possibility that some of these genetic factors may overlap. Nevertheless, overlapping vulnerabilities might indicate that some people are more likely to develop multiple disorders.
Another factor that plays an important role in the occurrence of coexisting disorders is developmental problems. Early drug use harms the growth of the brain making an individual susceptible to mental health problems. Similarly, early mental health problems also increase the chance of drug or substance abuse at a later stage in life.
Phases in treating individuals suffering from dual diagnosis
It is important to understand that an individual diagnosed with a co-existing disorder is said to have two separate ailments, each of which needs to be treated separately with a unique treatment plan to ensure complete and sustained recovery. Integrated intervention is the most popular method to treat people battling dual conditions. In fact, it is the best way to address both the mental health disorder and the SUD without neglecting either.
- Detoxification: This process involves 24/7 monitoring of the patient by dedicated medical staff for a maximum period of seven days. Tapering amounts of the drug or its medical alternative may be administered to the patient to ensure a smooth withdrawal.
- Inpatient rehabilitation: This is the best option for patients battling chronic mental disorders and destructive addictions so that they can be monitored round-the-clock, and timely medical aid can be administered, if needed, to prevent any complications or unwarranted accidents.
- Medications: Various types of medications are prescribed to address a wide range of mental health disorders. Medications are generally prescribed to minimize the effects of withdrawal and promote recovery.
- Psychotherapy: This stage refers to the counselling sessions conducted to educate patients about their illness and restructure their beliefs and thought processes in order to accelerate recovery and prevent relapse. For example, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is considered to be effective in helping patients manage undesirable thought processes.
- Support groups: Such assemblies of like-minded people provide a platform to share recovery stories, life-changing experiences, vent frustrations and talk about their challenges, so as to help each other and get rid of their vices. Moreover, members of such groups often forge strong ties with each other which promote sober living.
There is hope
Co-occurring disorders are complex, and often their diagnosis and treatment prove to be challenging. It is important to treat both the disorders simultaneously for lasting recovery. If you or your loved one is suffering from co-occurring disorders, it is imperative to take the necessary medical help before matters get out of hand.
Sovereign Health understands the plight of someone who is unable to discontinue the use of a substance despite the negative impact on his or her mental health. The customized recovery programs at Sovereign Health of San Clemente are designed to treat the person holistically.
Call our 24/7 helpline number to know about the most effective dual diagnosis treatment programs at our state-of-art dual diagnosis residential treatment centers in California. You can even chat online to one of our representatives to understand the dual diagnosis treatment we offer.