Co-Occurring Mental Disorders – Understanding Dual Diagnosis Treatment

Written by Chloe Nicosia

Understanding Dual Diagnosis Treatment

An addiction alone can be hard enough to deal with but many people who suffer from substance abuse disorder (drug addiction) also have a secondary mental disorder present. The two disorders often work off each other, each making the other worse. In 2014, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s survey showed that as many as 7.9 million people in the United States had co-occurring disorders – substance use disorder coupled with another mental illness. Understanding dual diagnosis treatment, or co-occurring disorders, can put you in a position where you can find the right kind of help for yourself or a loved one.

What is Dual Diagnosis?

When a person has substance use disorder and an accompanying mental disorder such as bi-polar or depression, they have a dual diagnosis. For example, a person who suffers from chronic depression might turn to alcohol or drugs to treat their symptoms, making them feel better for a short time. As time progresses and the depression symptoms are not treated properly, an addiction usually forms to the drug or alcohol ultimately making the depression worse. By understanding dual diagnosis treatment, the person is able to be treated for both conditions making treatment more effective overall.

What is Dual Diagnosis Treatment?

What is dual diagnosis treatment and how is it managed? Dual diagnosis treatment refers to rehab programs that aim to treat both the addiction and the co-occurring mental health problems. Each of the mental disorders must be treated independently for positive results to be achieved.

How dual diagnosis treatment works is by treating the addiction through behavioral therapy, medication and alternative treatments so that drug abuse stops, and then treating the other mental disorder through proven treatment methods. By understanding dual diagnosis treatment, it is clear that each makes the other worse and if one mental disorder is left untreated, the likelihood of the other returning is high. For example, if a person is treated for alcoholism but not their PTSD, when the symptoms of PTSD surface, the risk of turning to alcohol for relief is high.

The entire treatment process usually involves the following:

  • Detox – Initially, withdrawal symptoms can hinder the treatment. A detox period where the body can recover from the addiction is needed and is often aided through the use of medications to stop relapse and reduce withdrawal symptoms.
  • Inpatient rehab – For the best chance at recovery, a patient is advised to enter into an inpatient or residential program. This allows the person to stay in a supportive environment where they can be kept away from drugs and focus on their recovery. Each day is filled with activities and therapies to assist with recovery.
  • Medication – Depending on the type of substance or mental illness, certain medications can be given to assist in a healthy recovery and to maintain a healthy lifestyle once intensive treatment is completed.
  • Behavioral therapy and psychotherapy – Cognitive behavioral therapy is one of the methods that are effective at treating addiction. Depending on what mental illness is present along with the addiction, different psychotherapy methods can be used to treat the patient.
  • Support groups – Support groups is an important part of long-term recovery. 12-step programs and self-help groups can be the ideal place to share a person’s experience and to help cope with the stress of life.

By understanding dual diagnosis treatment at how dual diagnosis treatment works, a person suffering from co-occurring disorders can find the help they need to find happiness and balance in their life. Call Better Addiction Care today at 1-800-429-7690 to find out more information about dual diagnosis treatment.