Understanding Dual Diagnosis Treatment
Many people who suffer from drug addiction also suffer from depression, bipolar disorder, mood disorder or some other type of co-existing illness with their addiction. Individuals who suffer from another illness in addition to the disease of addiction are dually diagnosed. There are treatment centers that specialize in dual diagnosis. Research has shown that in order to completely recover treatment for both problems is a necessity. Dual diagnosis treatment will focus on both the drug or alcohol addiction as well as the other mental illness that is occurring. By attending a dual diagnosis treatment center, the services and therapy used is integrated to help the individual recover from both illnesses simultaneously. A quality dual diagnosis treatment facility will offer a number of different services to treat dually diagnosed patients. Some of these services include family counseling, relationship therapy, case management and individual and group therapy. A reputable treatment center will provide each individual client with a personalized treatment plan. A well thought out treatment plan will give the client the hope they have been searching for. Over recent years there have been large advancements in treatment for dually diagnosed people making it much easier for recovery to be obtained and ultimately lead to a happy and productive life. If you are suffering from bipolar disorder, or know someone who is, help is available.
What is Dual Diagnosis?
Dual diagnosis is a term that refers to the comorbidity, or co-occurring condition, of both substance addiction and mental illness within the same person at the same time. A dual diagnosis is considered more difficult to treat than a mental illness or drug addiction alone. There is controversy in the field of psychiatry about what causes a dual diagnosis and how it can best be treated. This guide provides an introduction to some of the key issues regarding dual diagnosis. It is common for substance abuse to develop simultaneously with certain types of mental illness such as schizophrenia, depression, bipolar disorder and anxiety. In fact, more than 50 percent of drug abusers are also diagnosed with a mental health disorder and it is estimated that nearly 30 percent of individuals with a mental illness also have a substance abuse problem. Among individuals with severe mental disorders like bipolar disorder, the number of people addicted to drugs can rise as high as 60 percent. Understanding of dual diagnosis has grown since the 1980s, but experts still do not agree on what causes drug addiction to develop alongside mental illness.
- Drug Abuse and Mental Illness Fast Facts (PDF Document): This U.S. Department of Justice brochure provides a brief overview on the relationship between mental illness and drug addiction.
- On Co-Occurring Addictive and Mental Disorders: This page contains the text of a letter to the editor of the American Journal of Orthopsychiatry in response to that journal’s special section on dual diagnosis.
Theories of Dual Diagnosis Etiology
There are several theories on what causes a dual diagnosis condition to develop. Causality theory holds that the long-term effects of substance abuse are the direct cause of mental illness symptoms. In contrast, dysphoria theory suggests that drug addiction results from an individual’s attempts to self-medicate symptoms of mental illness. In some cases, neurological changes can occur prenatally when a fetus is exposed to medications or other harmful substances. Another idea is that multiple environmental risk factors such as poverty and trauma work together to make an individual more likely to have co-occurring mental illness and drug addiction. Finally, the supersensitivity theory states that some individuals are biologically and developmentally predisposed to be vulnerable to drug addiction.
- Dual Diagnosis (Medline Plus): This page gives a summary of the process by which a dual diagnosis condition can develop.
- Addiction (eMedicineHealth.com): This article explains the potential causes of drug addiction and how it can be treated.
Dual Diagnosis Treatment Approaches
In 1984, an outpatient treatment facility in the state of New York was the first organization to begin implementing an integrated treatment model for dual diagnosis cases. The following year, this program model was used at multiple treatment centers nationwide. An integrated approach to treatment gained national attention with the publication of a Time Magazine article in 1987. Despite disagreements about how dual diagnosis conditions develop, there is a consensus that integrated treatment models are more effective with this population. Integrated treatment begins with a detoxification process in which an individual ceases use of addictive substances. It is generally believed that focusing on the mental disorder first, rather than the addiction, is ineffective. After detoxification, treatment can include a mixture of individual psychotherapy, group counseling, peer support groups and psychiatric medication. Medications used for dual diagnosis cases vary depending on the nature and severity of an individual’s mental disorder.
- Co-Occurring Mental and Substance Abuse Disorders (PDF Document): This guide by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services discusses some of the difficulties faced by dual diagnosis treatment programs.
Benefits of Dual Diagnosis
1. Addresses the Role of Mental Illness in Addiction
A substantial number of patients who opt to enroll in a dual-diagnosis treatment program struggle with both an addiction and a mental illness or disorder. All too often, treatment programs overlook the psychological aspects of addiction, focusing instead on the physiological side. However, that is a mistake. A dual-diagnosis treatment plan takes mental illness into account. It is widely recognized that mood disorders and mental illnesses increase a person’s vulnerability to addiction. In some cases, drugs may be used as a way to self-medicate. Therefore, it is vital that patients struggling with these issues are able to participate in a dual-diagnosis treatment program that identifies, recognizes and appreciates the role of mental illness in addiction.
2.Dual-Diagnosis Treatment Programs Look at Recovery Comprehensively
Some recovery or rehabilitation centers that don’t acknowledge dual-diagnosis do their patients a disservice. Lakeview Health, on the other hand, looks at recovery comprehensively. Full recovery means not just the cessation of drugs or alcohol for a specific period, but a lifestyle where drug use is not a temptation as a result of undiagnosed or misidentified mental illnesses. A thorough dual-diagnosis treatment program is beneficial because it gives patients the tools they need to have a lasting recovery. For instance, when depression, anxiety or panic attacks hit, patients will know what they are dealing with. Counselors or therapists may equip patients with techniques and tips to handle these psychological side effects, which in turn can reduce the need and desire for drug or alcohol use.
3.Medications are Prescribed with Addictive Behavior in Mind
Another reason that a dual-diagnosis treatment program is so vital for some patients has to do with prescription medications. Depending on the addiction or addictions in each case, prescription medications can be a major concern and a potential hurdle toward sobriety. In a dual-diagnosis program, however, medical professionals are aware of the risks and concerns of prescription medications in the treatment of mental illnesses and disorders. They will understand which medications are risky for those addicted to drugs or alcohol, and they will be cognizant of dosage, increased reliance and signs of a potential relapse.
Dual Diagnosis Help
A dual diagnosis treatment center will have certified addiction professionals that are experienced in treating individuals who are dually diagnosed. When treating dually diagnosed patients it is important that both the disease of addiction and a person’s mental illness are treated. The two diseases need to be treated independently if an individual is going to be able to achieve long term sobriety. Having to cope with alcohol and drug addiction is never easy and it is without a doubt more difficult when having to deal with a mental illness as well. By getting the proper treatment through a dual diagnosis treatment center it is very possible to recover from both addiction and mental illness. A dual diagnosis treatment center provides the help, guidance and support that are essential to recover from dual diagnosis. For the individual that struggles with both addiction and some other co-occurring psychiatric disorder a dual diagnosis treatment center can help. The professionals that work at a dual diagnosis treatment are trained specifically to help clients and will be able to provide the support, guidance and structure needed to begin living a life free of chemical dependency.