What Is Dual Diagnosis Treatment?
When you are experiencing addiction with a co-occurring mental health concern or behavioral issue, that is considered a dual diagnosis. Dual diagnosis treatment is a multifaceted approach that will treat both the substance use disorder and mental health or behavioral concern.
When treating a dual diagnosis, it is vital for you and your therapist to look at both disorders individually and how each diagnosis affects the other. Often, mental health or behavioral concern symptoms become heightened or worsened with the use of substances. Some patients may be using substances to self-medicate and lessen the symptoms of their mental health or behavioral concern by ‘numbing out’ with a mood-altering substance.
When you enter into dual diagnosis treatment at our alcohol rehab or drug rehab facilities, the first essential part of treatment is to have the influence of alcohol or drugs removed from your body. Once the mood-altering substances are removed from your body, your therapist will be able to establish what your baseline activity is for your mental health or behavioral concern. Establishing a baseline will help your therapist understand your presenting symptoms and problems, and create a holistic therapeutic plan to mitigate and stabilize your symptoms without using substances.
Common Mental Health Conditions in Dual Diagnosis
There are a few select mental health concerns that are typically associated with substance use. Often, these conditions have symptoms that range in severity for the patient and have prescription medications that doctors prescribe to the patients. Sometimes, medications can have side effects that the patient doesn’t like. Patients can find a similar outcome with managing symptoms with illicit drugs leading the user to turn to illegal street drugs for the desired effect of managing symptoms.
Dual diagnosis often treats these mental health concerns co-occurring with substance use:
- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) – Often, patients with ADHD are prescribed stimulants to help them regulate their behavior. Many with ADHD will turn to illicit stimulant street drugs for the same desired effect.
- Bipolar disorder – Many who are experiencing the symptoms of manic episodes or intense emotional feelings can turn to substances to alleviate the symptoms you are feeling.
- Borderline Personality Disorder – Many who experience symptoms of borderline personality disorder turn to substance use to regulate their symptoms, with nearly 80% of borderline patients in the US turning to alcohol or drugs to self-medicate.
- Depression – Often, when experiencing the emotional lows of depression, many will turn to substances for a brief relief in improving their mood. Unfortunately, the use of substances often exacerbates the symptoms of depression once the peak of the high or state of intoxication from alcohol wears off.
- Eating disorders – Some patients living with an eating disorder will turn to illicit substances to suppress their appetite.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)- OCD is often paired with anxiety and depression, leading patients to turn to substance use to subside these symptoms and alleviate or lessen the emotions occurring.
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)- PTSD affects your brain’s ability to produce enough endorphins leading to co-occurring disorders such as depression and anxiety. Often patients with PTSD will turn to alcohol or drugs to provide themselves with momentary happiness or relief.
- Schizophrenia- Patients living with schizophrenia often experience audio or visual hallucinations. To stabilize symptoms, patients turn to alcohol or drugs; however, substance use typically will increase or worsen symptoms felt.
Warning Signs Someone May Be Struggling With a Dual Diagnosis
Suppose you are concerned that you or someone you love may be experiencing dual diagnosis concerns. In that case, you will want to provide options for appropriate treatment to treat both co-occurring disorders simultaneously. If you are unsure how to identify if it is a dual diagnosis condition, the following signs or symptoms can be indicators:
- Neglecting personal hygiene or health concerns
- Sudden or drastic changes in overall behavior
- Refusing to participate in any treatment offered
- Financial instability/difficulty managing funds
- Difficulties with school or work performances
- Talking about suicide
- Disengaging from activities or social events that previously were actively engaging in
- Delusional thinking
- Inability to manage daily responsibilities and tasks
How Dual Diagnosis Treatment Is Different
Dual diagnosis treatment is different from standard addiction treatment. It focuses on the coinciding mental health or behavioral concern that has likely turned the patient to use substances to self-medicate or alleviate presenting symptoms. Dual diagnosis therapists will look at how both conditions affect and impact one another and provide treatment modalities to address the underlying causes of the conditions.
Once you can have a sound state of mind, free of substance use, a psychiatric and therapeutic team can work to build a treatment plan that will stabilize your symptoms without turning to external substances for relief. You will be provided with the tools and resources you need to work through potential triggering situations through holistic treatment measures.
If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.