Dual diagnosis: Reining in twin monsters of mental illness and addiction - Sovereign Health Group
Articles / Blog
05-01-17 Category: Dual Diagnosis, Treatment

The hand-in-glove association between mental illness and addiction is nothing unfamiliar. It’s a well-known fact that the two conditions exist because they feed on each other. It goes without saying that individuals experiencing bouts of depression often resort to an easy escape route to find relief from their agonizing state of mind.

One cannot ignore the fact that a couple of drinks or a shot of drugs can make a mentally stressed person feel alleviated and lightheaded for a while, giving him or her the much sought after respite and escape route from a deplorable state of mind. However, such urges compel vulnerable people to allow the twin monsters of psychiatric disorder and substance abuse to gain a firm footing in their lives, resulting in immense damage to their mental as well as physical well-being.

A tumultuous and exasperating environment at the home front drove Matt (name changed) to spend more time outside. The 16-year-old boy from Sacramento felt relieved to be away from the depressive vibes emanating from his home. It was in high school that he first smoked a joint of marijuana and started experimenting with alcohol each night. It was fun because everyone in the dorm did so.

But, soon the urge to try something new led Matt to heroin, Adderall, Valium and other prescription drugs. During Christmas or mid-term vacations, returning to the hostile and reprimanding atmosphere of his home always made him feel out of place. Indulging in alcohol and drug use was the only means to break free from the painful reality and reassure himself that everything would be alright. In no time, he developed tolerance to the intoxicants. Even larger doses failed to produce the desired effect. In a vain bid to overcome depression, he became a victim of substance use disorder, which, in turn, aggravated his depression. He was suffering from comorbidity.

However, Matt’s is not a one-off case. There are thousands of teenagers in the United States who battle dual diagnosis in their daily lives. According to the 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), an estimated 340,000 adolescents aged 12 to 17 in 2014 had a co-occurring major depressive episode (MDE) and a substance use disorder (SUD) in the past year.

In most cases of dual diagnosis, an uncontrollable urge to self-medicate seems to be the driving force, especially in the case of those battling mood disorders. On the other hand, continuous drug abuse or dependence can lead to symptoms of mental health issues in an individual. Thus, both substance abuse and mental illness are two sides of the same coin. Also, both these conditions also share certain common triggers such as family history of dual diagnosis, stress levels, past traumatic experiences, degree of exposure to drugs, etc.

Treatment for dual disorders

Experts believe that healthcare professionals should move toward an integrated model comprising both multi-morbidity as well as multi-disciplinary health care facilities. Looking beyond the disease-specific medical model, wherein the doctors and medical practitioners function within the boundaries of their respective areas of specialization is the need of the hour. The five common ways to treat individuals struggling with dual disorders are:

  • Detoxification: Firstly, eliminating the toxins from the bloodstream of someone suffering from co-occurring disorders by reversing the damage caused by prolonged substance abuse is of topmost priority. This process is known as detoxification and is generally the first major step on the road to recovery.
  • Inpatient rehabilitation: Chronic cases of substance abuse disorder or mental health could require the patient to be hospitalized and stringently monitored in a clinical setting. This is the best way to break free from dual diagnosis for those individuals who are battling continuous negative thought patterns and are unable to suppress their urges.
  • 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. They act on the receptors in the brain associated with the drug to block the corresponding rewarding sensations of pleasure.
  • Psychotherapy: Psychotherapy, together with effective counseling, is used to make patients aware about their mental health and other related behavioral outcomes. It is also useful to alleviate the suffering of people grappling with dual diagnosis problems, enabling them to deal with their struggles and make a deliberate effort to rectify their negative and unproductive ways of thinking.
  • 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, exasperations and handy advice.

Steps are being taken to promote a comprehensive and holistic treatment, which covers all real-world complexities and conditions without solely relying on individual indications and diseases. Besides, even health care providers have undertaken a responsibility of creating awareness among the masses about the ongoing menace of co-occurring infirmities and developing more strategies to shift from a volume-based to a value-based healthcare model.

Fortunately, dual diagnosis is a curable condition

Mental health and substance abuse often bump into each other at a very complex juncture because people are unaware that they are abusing substances to escape from the worrisome reality looming over their heads. Therefore, a careful assessment is needed to establish the existence of both disorders. But, it might be difficult because the symptoms of one disorder can mimic the symptoms of the other. The need of the hour is regular care from trained physicians and customized therapies to help a comorbid patient avail the benefits of dual diagnosis treatment.

Sovereign Health of San Clemente, California offers a variety of customized dual diagnosis residential treatment options to treat the person holistically. These programs are specifically designed to help patients recover from the co-occurring disorders 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.

It is important to understand what dual diagnosis is and seek medical help in case of addiction to any substance and a concurring occurrence of a mental disorder. If you or your loved one is suffering from co-occurring disorders, it is imperative to take the necessary medical help before matters go out of control. Whether you like to have more information on dual diagnosis or are looking for dual diagnosis treatment centers in California or at a place closer home, contact Sovereign Health as we have facilities in all major places in the country.

Call our 24/7 helpline or chat online to know about the causes of dual diagnosis and most effective dual diagnosis recovery program to treat them at the earliest. Our dual diagnosis residential treatment facilities in California are among the best in the nation.

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