People who become addicted to drugs, alcohol, exercise, gambling, and other behaviors, often have an underlying condition that has made them more vulnerable to becoming addicted or made the substance abuse worse than it might have been otherwise. Using the drug or alcohol is often a form of self-medication.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, nearly a third of people with a mental illness also experience substance abuse, while over a third of alcohol abusers and half of all drug abusers also have a mental illness. Dual Diagnosis is therefore common in addiction diagnosis and treatment.
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Dual Diagnosis means that addiction is present along with another condition such as a mental health disorder, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, or other psychological or mental disorder. Many combinations are possible, and each has its own set of causes, symptoms, and suitable Dual Diagnosis Treatment methods.
Examples include a person who is depressed and drinks to numb the pain, a patient with panic attacks who abuses sedatives to calm the anxiety, or a person with lack of motivation who takes cocaine to increase their energy to get things done.
The drug abuse often makes the underlying mental health issue worse. For example, an addiction to alcohol or crystal meth can make a person even more depressed. Drug overdoses or drunkenness can lead to the person becoming a victim of assault or rape, which can in turn result in PTSD.
When a Dual Diagnosis is made it is important that the patient be treated for both issues at the same time. Treating just one of the problems means the cause remains and both problems will arise again.
Until the 1990s people with mental health disorders and addiction were treated for only one problem, and many addicts were told to get clean and sober before their mental health disorder could be addressed. There was no recognition that the two could be connected. The situation is changing, and medical professionals are now being trained in both areas. However, it can still be challenging to find treatment that addresses both problems at the same time. Drug Treatment Centers Fairfield offers a dual diagnosis treatment program that helps address patients mental health concerns and substance abuse disorders.
Mental health disorders that are often linked to substance abuse or addictions include depression, anxiety, OCD, schizophrenia, and various personality disorders. They also include eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa, binge eating disorder, and bulimia.
The treatment for Dual Diagnosis patients should be supportive, compassionate, and aimed at building self-esteem rather than being aggressive or blaming the person for their addiction.
There is no single treatment option because there are so many possible combinations. The treatment plan must be designed to address the type and extent of the substance abuse and the specific psychiatric disorder linked to it.
A residential program may be best for patients who show severe signs of mental illness or a serious addiction problem. Living in a treatment facility enables the medical team to monitor the patient around the clock and administer medications as needed. Once a patient is mentally stable and has been through a withdrawal period for the drugs or alcohol, treatment as an outpatient is usually preferable.
The treatment will often include drug or alcohol rehabilitation, but during this treatment psychopharmacological medications for the mental illness may be prescribed to reduce anxiety, stabilize the patient’s moods, reduce depression, and prevent flashbacks to traumatic events.
Management often includes psychotherapy and behavioral therapies. Family and friends may be involved in the treatment, since their understanding of the linked disorders can be the difference between the patient recovering or not. Ongoing counseling or therapy may be needed for months, years, or perhaps for life.