For many people who are currently suffering from an addiction to drugs or alcohol, the effects of substance abuse are not the only problems they are facing. An estimated fifty percent of all people with an addiction also have at least one mental health condition. These conditions can range from more common ones like anxiety and depression, to less common ones like post-traumatic stress disorder and schizophrenia. When someone has both an addiction and a mental health condition, they are said to have a dual diagnosis.
The combination of addiction and an untreated mental health condition can lead to many serious issues, including a higher risk of death by overdose or suicide. For those with a dual diagnosis, having their mental health symptoms treated at the same time as their
What Are The Signs Of Dual Diagnosis?
For many people, it can be difficult to tell if you have a dual diagnosis, especially if you have not already been diagnosed with a mental health condition. While the best way to tell if you would benefit from specialized dual diagnosis treatment is to consult an addiction professional, there are some signs that you can look for in yourself. The most common signs of that you may have a dual diagnosis include:
- Sudden changes in behavior or habits
- Isolating yourself from social situations
- Participating in risky behaviors while using drugs or alcohol, such as driving under the influence or having unsafe sex
- Using drugs or alcohol as a way to self-medicate your mental health symptoms
- Having little or no control over how much or how often you use a substance
- Mood swings
- Extreme weight loss or weight gain
- Having to use more and more of a substance in order to feel its effects
- Craving substances when you are not using them, or believing that you need them in order to function
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms if you try to stop using substances
What Makes Dual Diagnosis Treatment Different?
Dual diagnosis treatment focuses on treating both your addiction and your mental health symptoms. Mental health issues have a huge impact on a person’s quality of life, as well as their ability to cope with normal stressors. They can also affect your personal relationships, your performance at work or school, your behavior, and more. If your mental health symptoms are left untreated, you are far less likely to be successful in maintaining your recovery for the long term. The specialized treatment offered for dual diagnosis focuses on treating all of your mental health concerns along with your addiction, helping you to see how the two affect each other as well as your ability to stay sober. Your treatment will likely involve a variety of behavioral therapies, and may also include medications when appropriate. Getting help for both your addiction and your mental health makes it much less likely that you will experience a relapse once you have completed your treatment program.
The main component of most dual diagnosis treatment is behavioral therapy, which helps to address the underlying reasons for your addiction. Therapy also gives you tools to help you deal with cravings, and avoid your drug use triggers. While each person’s needs are different, some of the most commonly offered behavioral therapies for dual diagnosis treatment include:
- Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) – MAT combines both medications and counseling to treat a dual diagnosis. This approach is very effective at treating not only the withdrawal symptoms of substance dependence such as alcohol and opioids but also restoring abnormal physiology by regulating the involved brain receptors with medications to maintain normal physiology
- Contingency Management (CM) – CM gives patients small rewards, such as cash, vouchers, or small gifts, for positive behaviors. This can include going to your therapy sessions, sticking with your treatment plan, and maintaining your treatment goals.
- Trauma Therapy – We are a trauma-informed program. This means that we have an understanding of how trauma can drive behavior and can provide support. This is not to say that we provide trauma therapy which has its own specific track outside of the scope of our program.
The other component to dual diagnosis treatment will be medication. The medication you are prescribed will depend on your mental health symptoms, what you are addicted to, and even how long you have been abusing drugs or alcohol. The most frequently prescribed medications for dual diagnosis treatment include:
- Anxiety Medications
- Mood Stabilizers
There is no one reason why someone ends up with a dual diagnosis. Both mental health conditions and addiction share common causes, including genetics, trauma, and stress. No matter whether your mental health issues or addiction came first, getting treatment that is designed to treat both of these concerns is pivotal in achieving and maintaining your treatment goals.
Don’t let your addiction and mental health concerns continue to affect your life. Contact us today to learn more about our outpatient dual diagnosis treatment, and how we can help you to design a treatment plan that will set you up for success.