Similar to the age-old dilemma, “What came first, the chicken or the egg?” which baffled generations of scientists, the widespread prevalence of comorbidity of drug use related disorders and mental ailments has stumped mental health experts. This has been quite a challenging mystery to unravel; the reality is that any given mental illness can highly increase the chances of drug abuse for immediate or short-term relief and that those who are habituated to prolonged drug use could start manifesting early symptoms of mental ailments.
However, studies have shown that though the two are closely linked to each other, neither is proven to be the direct cause of the other. In most cases of mental ailments, self-medication often involves the use of alcohol or drugs to alleviate the symptoms but the side effects, in the long run, are usually damaging and can heighten the underlying risk of developing more serious health problems. Most victims are often pushed over the edge in a desperate effort to seek relief, which also, may become, one of the major causes of overdose.
Such an observably high rate of comorbidity between the two, calls for a holistic approach to identify, evaluate and treat each concurrent disorder, not ignoring the other. Dealing with strong urges for intoxication, alcohol dependence, substance abuse or drug addiction, has always been a daunting task. Moreover, things can get more complicated if someone is struggling with mental disorders, such as depression, anxiety or bipolar disorder.
Experts recommend the following ways to determine an individual’s vulnerability to dual diagnosis:
- Checking family history: If an individual’s parents or grandparents have struggled with a mental disorder besides drug or alcohol addiction, then the individual faces a greater risk of developing these problems.
- Checking sensitivity to alcohol or drugs: If someone is highly sensitive to the effect of alcohol or drugs, or they are able to notice a close connection between substance abuse and their state of mind, then there is a problem.
- Checking for symptoms when sober: If depression or anxiety still persists after one has achieved sobriety, it could be a mental health malaise.
- Checking treatment history: If an individual has been treated for either mental disorders or addiction in the past, but the individual relapsed, then the underlying factor for the setback might be a mental illness in the case of an addiction or vice versa.
Treating individuals with dual diagnosis
Regular care from trained physicians and customized therapies may largely help a comorbid patient to cope with stress. These programs are specifically designed to help people with a habit of drug abuse to recover from the dual conditions through integrated interventions. In many instances, health care practitioners may stick to only behavioral therapy for patients who are uncomfortable taking medications, given their history of substance abuse.
Dual diagnosis calls for an extensive treatment method which, involves identification and evaluation of each disorder concurrently. Therefore, it becomes important for someone battling mental illness to get screened for drug addiction and vice versa. Since a detailed diagnosis is complicated, and it may require the patients to be kept under observation, after a period of abstinence, in order to differentiate between symptoms of co-occurring mental disorders and their withdrawal symptoms.
In a rehabilitation center, a comorbid patient would be required to undergo the following four stages of treatment:
- Evaluation: This stage is essential to educate the patient and the family members about the actual problem and the possible treatment options. Besides, a comprehensive evaluation helps professionals at the rehab decide the best way to treat the patient with minimal withdrawal symptoms.
- Detoxification: At this stage, doctors help the patient manage the withdrawal symptoms. Depending on the degree of addiction and mental disorder, this stage can pose several complications.
- Rehabilitation: In this phase, the patient is recommended an individualized treatment plan such as personal or group therapy to regain control of his or her life.
- Ongoing care and support: This includes ongoing, all-inclusive support to patients after they are discharged from the rehabilitation center to ensure recovery management and hence lifelong sobriety.
There is hope
Sovereign Health of San Clemente, California, offers a variety of customized dual diagnosis treatment options to treat a person holistically. Routine care from certified health care experts and time-tested therapies to help individuals battling dual diagnosis are available at our top dual diagnosis treatment centers in California. Patients can choose one-to-one or group psychotherapy, or other world-class therapeutic solutions to break free from the clutches of coexisting disorders.
If you or your loved one is struggling with drug addiction, in addition to any mental disorder, call our 24/7 helpline or chat online to know about our state-of-the-art dual diagnosis residential treatment centers spread across California and other states of the U.S.