Decoding dual diagnosis to treat patients effectively - Sovereign Health Group
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09-21-17 Category: Substance Abuse

Dual diagnosis is a broad category in which a person suffers from both a substance abuse problem and mental health issues such as depression or anxiety. Often termed as co-morbidity, co-occurring illnesses or comorbid disorders, dual diagnosis may affect an individual physically, psychologically and socially. An individual with a mental disorder may go for drugs and alcohol to improve the troubling symptoms he or she experiences.

Besides, having a mental disorder significantly increases one’s risk of abusing alcohol and drugs. A person suffering from anxiety may take to alcohol or psychotropic drugs as an escape route. Alternatively, a person with a severe drinking or substance abuse problem may suffer from mental agony. It means that problematic patterns of drug use lead to significant impairments in the brain cells, causing symptoms such as lack of control over drug use, frequent cravings and inability to fulfill responsibilities.

Conclusions derived from treatment of patients with co-occurring disorders reveal that anxiety, in most cases, is likely to be the consequence rather than the cause of heavy drinking or drug abuse. However, nowadays studies suggest genetics also play a part in a person’s decision-making and risk-taking behaviors, which may give rise to drug abuse and other mental illnesses. A dual diagnosis patient can be of any age and intellectual level ­ millions of people have some form of this condition, which can present tremendous challenges during treatment and recovery. 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 other’s.

How to identify co-occurring disorders

Individuals who experience a dual diagnosis often face a wide range of psychosocial issues and may experience multiple interacting illnesses. So, prevalence rates for this disorder are difficult to identify. A person may encounter a variety of problems as a result of a dual diagnosis, and it takes time to determine what might cause either condition. Although substance abuse and mental health disorders like depression and anxiety are closely linked, one may not necessarily influence the other. The following symptoms can help identify if there is a reason to seek help:

  • A person may mask the psychiatric symptoms by alcohol or drug use.
  • The patient’s addiction to a drug or withdrawal from it can give the appearance of some psychiatric illness.
  • Psychiatric symptoms can occur due to an untreated chemical dependence.
  • An untreated alcohol or drug relapse can lead to drug abuse.

Importance of integrated care

Co-occurring disorder treatment is a unique field in its own right. Historically, health care providers have been presented with various challenges when it comes to providing appropriate treatment to people suffering from co-occurring illnesses. While much is still to be learned about what constitutes effective treatment, packages of treatments and supportive services for mental and substance use disorders should be customized to fit individual needs. Increasing awareness among health care providers is an important step toward identifying and treating co-occurring disorders. Moreover, young people and their families need both formal and informal support as they strive toward recovery. Early detection and treatment can eventually improve the quality of life for those battling with the disease. In such a situation, importance of an integrated care can be summed up as below:

  • Integrated treatment options help overcome the adverse impact of mental health ailments, which include reduced attention span, fear of socializing with others and low motivation levels.
  • Medications work more effectively when the treatment provider addresses both mental health disorder and substance abuse problem at the same time.
  • Group therapy offers a significant support for individuals who are struggling with mental illness as well as addiction.
  • Patients should be able to address their relapse triggers, including panic attacks, depression or mood swings.

Dual diagnosis is treatable

According to a 2015 report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), approximately 8.9 million adults had co-occurring disorders and only 7.4 percent of individuals received treatment for both conditions. The SAMHSA data also shows that 55.8 percent of people with dual diagnosis received no treatment at all.

Because of a strong relationship between substance abuse and mental illness, an integrated treatment plan is best suited for such patients. Today, there are innumerable treatment centres that give equal importance to the treatment of both psychiatric disorder and addictive behavior by providing fully comprehensive, integrated treatment plans.

Sovereign Health of San Clemente, California, offers a variety of customized therapies for a wide range of mental health problems to treat the afflicted individuals holistically. Experts at our dual diagnosis residential treatment centers in California are trained to identify the underlying causes and prescribe customized individual as well as group psychotherapy based on the patient’s requirements. If you or your loved one is battling dual diagnosis, call our 24/7 helpline or chat online with one of our representatives for immediate help. Our effective programs on dual diagnosis treatment in California have helped many individuals to regain control of their lives.

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