Dual diagnosis: Co-occurring disorders rampant in sex industry - Sovereign Health Group
Articles / Blog
05-04-17 Category: Dual Diagnosis

The very mention of the word “prostitute” may conjure images of women in black fishnets and knee-length boots, engaging in sexual acts in isolated dark alleyways of metropolitan cities. But with the ever-growing rates of substance abuse and addiction, the image of a sex worker in the minds of suburban dwellers has undergone a drastic transformation. Now, sex work is not an isolated “big metropolitan city” menace, the industry thrives in even the smallest of cities in the United States. Today, more and more young suburban women are falling into the dark abyss of flesh trade, where both mental health problems and substance abuse go hand-in-hand, particularly among street prostitutes.

Manuela Velasquez (name changed), a beautiful Mexican school dropout from the Boyle Heights neighborhood of Downtown Los Angeles, was in high school when she began experimenting with hardcore drugs. What started as a curiosity-driven experiment, along with a couple of fellow students, eventually paved the way for a full-fledged addiction. Gradually, the 25-year-old woman graduated from prescription drugs to deadlier ones such as heroin and meth. Being pressed for money, her initial efforts to lay hands on the white powder only met with failure.

Over time, several attempts to satisfy her substance cravings pushed Velasquez to street peddlers and gangsters. Eventually, after exhausting all her money, she began to sink into debt. It was during one of the lowest times of her life that a distraught and drug-starved Velasquez came in contact with a fashion photographer who offered her free heroin in exchange for a glamorous photo shoot for his website. In no time, she was neck deep in a prostitution ring. The photographer turned out to be a pimp, who would grab the lion’s share of the cash and keep Velasquez and the other girls in a dangerously intoxicated state so that they submit to the sexual fantasies of the clients. Repeated heroin abuse and sexual exploitation drove her to not only drug dependency but also to bipolar disorder with regular bouts of high and low mood swings.

There are many women like Velasquez who end up as prostitutes to satisfy their drug addiction and to make enough money to be able to afford the drugs. Statistics indicate that between 40 and 85 percent of all sex workers are addicted to illicit substances and in several cases, their addiction often drives them to take up sex work to finance their drug dependency. The craving for drug-induced highs has forced many vulnerable men and women into the sex industry, who eventually end up becoming helpless victims of rapes, sexual exploitation and even violent crimes, which often go unreported.

Treatment is key to help female sex workers with dual diagnosis

Drug addiction is a form of mental illness, which is certainly treatable with the right amount of care and professional support. Unfortunately, the fear of being arrested or shamed prevents millions of women from reporting their cases of exploitation to law enforcement authorities. Studies suggest that an overwhelming majority of prostitutes want to break free from the clutches of drug use and sex work.

Experts believe that an integrated model comprising both multimorbidity as well as multidisciplinary health care facilities should be used to treat female sex workers battling dual disorders. Clinicians need to be more sensitive to relationship dynamics involving the female patients’ present life and past history which had caused them such immense pain. The below-mentioned list sums up the most pressing needs of women who desperately want to break free from drugs and sex work:

  • Detoxification: It is the first major step on the road to recovery, where the toxins from the bloodstream of the patient are removed by reversing the damage caused by prolonged substance abuse.
  • Inpatient rehabilitation: Individuals who continuously battle negative thoughts and are unable to suppress their urges require to be hospitalized and stringently monitored in a clinical setting.
  • Medications: After assessing the symptoms and nature of dual disorders, customized treatments and recuperative medications are administered as a supplement to certain behavioral therapies to reduce the languishing desire for drugs, including the ill-effects of withdrawal symptoms.
  • Psychotherapy: Psychotherapy, together with effective counseling, is used to alleviate the suffering of people struggling with dual diagnosis problems, enabling them to cope with their struggles and make a deliberate effort to rectify their negative and unproductive thought patterns.
  • Support groups: These include non-clinical services that accompany treatment, and go a long way in supporting patients during their journey to recovery and complete sobriety. Such groups provide an unbiased platform for recovering members to share experiences, success stories, words of hope and encouragement, frustrations and handy advice.

Dual diagnosis is treatable

Mental health and substance abuse often feed one another because people are usually unaware that they are abusing substances to escape from the worrisome reality looming over their heads. On the surface, they might appear very distinct but in reality, they feed on each other and often victims find themselves sucked into the whirlpool of dual diagnosis without any clue of what is happening. A careful assessment is needed to establish the existence of both disorders. The need of the hour is regular care from trained physicians and customized therapies to help a comorbid patient avail the benefits of top dual diagnosis treatment centers in California.

Sovereign Health offers a variety of customized dual diagnosis treatment options at its residential treatment centers to treat the person holistically. These programs are specifically designed to help patients recover from the dual conditions through integrated interventions after a rigorous examination of the underlying health conditions. Patients can opt for individual and group psychotherapy or alternative therapeutic activities to regain control of their lives.

If you or your loved one is suffering from dual diagnosis, it is imperative to take the necessary medical help before matters go out of control. For more information on the dual diagnosis or the best dual diagnosis treatment options closest to the Los Angeles area, get in touch with us. Call our 24/7 helpline or chat online to know about the causes of dual diagnosis and most effective dual diagnosis treatment programs in the vicinity of Los Angeles. We have facilities in all major places in the country. Our dual diagnosis residential treatment centers in California are among the best in the nation.

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