Many people who struggle with addiction are also experiencing the effects of trauma, anxiety, depression, or any number of other psychological concerns. When an individual is living with both a mental health disorder and a substance use disorder, scientists and clinicians refer to this as a dual diagnosis, sometimes called co-occurring disorders.
Dual diagnosis addiction treatment is the practice of treating mental illness and addiction simultaneously. According to the Substance Use and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), pairing targeted treatments for mental health with evidence-based methods for helping people overcome substance use disorders:
As such, dual-diagnosis treatment is considered to be the gold standard of addiction treatment models.
How do you know if you need dual diagnosis addiction treatment?
Due to the high rate of co-occurring disorders in people living with addiction, attending a dual diagnosis treatment center is nearly always the best approach to getting treatment. Substance use can mask underlying health symptoms, and mental health professionals at a dual diagnosis center can assess whether you are experiencing mental illness, side effects of addiction, or both.
The connection between mental health and addiction
Multiple theories have been put forward to explain the connection between mental health and substance use disorders. The propensity for people to experience co-occurring disorders suggests that there is a link between them. It may be possible for one to drive the other, but does mental illness lead to addiction, or does addiction lead to mental illness?
Substance-induced mental health disorders
The first theory to connect mental health and addiction suggests that substance use disorders can lead to the development of mental illness. The withdrawal symptoms and side effects of substance use often parallels mental health disorders and can include symptoms such as:
The exact set of consequences that a person with a substance use disorder experiences varies significantly between individuals. Factors like overall health, drug of use, and environment can all contribute to whether they develop clinically significant mental health symptoms after addiction.
Scientific studies have found associations between addiction and mental health disorders. In some cases, substance use precedes the development of mental health symptoms, which may indicate a causative link. People with alcohol use disorder, for example, are at increased risk of developing depression.
The self-medication hypothesis
An alternative theory to the link between mental health and substance use disorders suggests that people use substances to treat the symptoms of mental illness. Known as the self-medication hypothesis, this theory suggests that some people who experience mental health disorders turn to drugs or alcohol to reduce their negative symptoms.
Studies suggest that between 21.9% and 24.1% of people with anxiety or depressive disorders use self-medication as a coping mechanism. This method can result in the development of an addiction.
Ultimately, whether substance use influences the development of mental health disorders or results from a person attempting to cope with a pre-existing mental disorder, each theory accounts for some of the relationship between mental health and addiction.
Signs and symptoms of substance use disorders
Identifying whether you or a loved one is experiencing a substance use disorder depends on a few key factors. There are 11 main criteria for diagnosing a substance use disorder. Each one looks at specific ways that substance use affects your everyday life. These symptoms come from the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5-TR). They include:
Substance use disorders occur on a spectrum, which means people can have mild, moderate, or severe substance use disorders. Meeting just two of the criteria above can result in a diagnosis of mild substance use disorder. Having four to five symptoms is considered moderate, and six or more is severe.
Unfortunately, these studies showed that most people with co-occurring disorders never receive any type of mental health or substance use treatment. Only 9.1% received dual diagnosis care, despite the vast body of evidence that indicates it is best suited to helping this population.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Is a debilitating anxiety disorder centered around the experience of a traumatic event. It can cause people to be hypervigilant, experience sudden mood swings, and have repeated intrusive thoughts about the traumatic event. People living with PTSD experience substance use disorders at elevated rates, with some studies suggesting that nearly half of people with a PTSD diagnosis have a co-occurring substance use disorder.Post-traumatic stress disorder treatment
Anxiety is one of the most common mental health concerns in the United States, with nearly a third of adults being diagnosed with an anxiety disorder within their lifetime. Anxiety and substance use disorders are frequently associated with each other, which can ultimately make the symptoms of anxiety even worse.
Bipolar disorder is a mood disorder characterized by bouts of severe depression followed by periods of elevated mood known as manic or hypomanic episodes. People living with bipolar disorder swing between these two extremes and may turn to substance use to try to offset the effects of their illness.
Dual diagnosis treatment spans the entire length of an effective addiction treatment model. The first steps of dual diagnosis treatment include a detailed assessment and evaluation, which can help determine what disorders you are experiencing and how best to structure your treatment plan to get the greatest benefit.
Therapies offered in a dual diagnosis program include:
Meeting with specialists concerning your mental health disorder will occur throughout your treatment stay. Patients in our dual diagnosis treatment program will still attend the best evidence-based treatments for substance use disorders but get targeted assistance in dealing with mental illness alongside these treatments.
Before completing treatment, our team will work with you to create an aftercare plan that ensures you continue getting the mental health care you need and supports you in your recovery.
Each member of our multidisciplinary team participates in the creation of a unique mental health treatment program. We create these plans based on the specific needs of each client we see. Our team understands that while dual diagnosis is common, everyone experiences their disorders differently.
Lakeview Health’s board-certified doctors make every attempt to use non-addictive medications for mental health symptoms.
Will work with you to ensure prescribed medications are properly administered and helping with mental health symptoms.
Works with clients to teach proper coping skills, life skills, and stress management in order for them to properly care for their mental health instead of reaching for harmful substances.
Our inpatient treatment center provides serene facilities paired with our team of trained professionals to create the ideal environment for healing and recovery. Through a variety of amenities, services, programs, and therapies, we are able to offer comprehensive treatment in a welcoming and safe space.
Lakeview Health offers comprehensive care for numerous co-occurring conditions, including:
Get the help you need
When you’re ready to begin your road to recovery, turn to our team for the help you need today. Our admissions team is ready to help you determine the type of care you need.
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