While treating alcohol and drug addiction is a difficult task, one with a chance of relapse and a long road to sobriety, it is more difficult for those with what is termed a “dual diagnosis.” What makes these clients harder to treat and what facilities should you consider when it comes time for you or a loved one with a dual diagnosis to seek treatment?
What is a Dual Diagnosis?
A “dual diagnosis” is where there is a drug abuser who has mental health disorders as well. Up until recently these users were asked to be clean and sober before they got treatment for their mental illness, or they were separately treated for each problem. Today, however, there are facilities designed to treat both mental illness and addiction issues. These dual diagnosis facilities have a unique approach to treatment.
Symptoms of a Dual Drug/Alcohol and Mental Illness Condition
There are many signs of a person having a mental illness, a substance abuse problem, or a dual diagnosis.
For substance abuse, those signs can be:
• Stealing money from friends and family
• Lying to those closest to them
• Abandoning old friends or routines for new ones
• Failing in school or work
• Guilt or regret issues
• Showing signs of withdrawal on occasion as they try quitting or lowering the amount
• High risk behaviors such as unsafe sex, dangerous stunts, or gambling
• Escalating their drinking around you, or hiding their alcohol around you
For mental illness, the symptoms that may occur include:
• Rituals or obsessed thoughts to maintain a balance and relieve anxiety
• Having hallucinations or delusions
• Withdrawal from friends and family
• Mood swings
• Varying energy levels; tons of energy one moment and lethargic the next
• Difficulty maintaining a routine with friends and family
• Difficulty keeping jobs
• Quick darting thoughts
• Feeling helpless or desolate
Risk Factors for Dual Diagnosis
According to Mental Health America, some psychiatric disorders will raise your risk factors for substance abuse. Depending on your mental illness, you may have a 2 percent to nearly 16 percent higher risk for developing a substance abuse problem. These illnesses are:
• Phobias – Phobias raise the risk factor by 2.4 percent
• OCD, or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder – OCD will raise the risk by 3.4 percent
• Major Depression – With major depression, there is a 4.1 percent raised risk factor
• Panic Disorder – Having panic disorder will raise the risk by 4.3 percent
• Schizophrenia – With schizophrenia there is a 10.1 percent higher risk factor
• Mania – Mania raises the risk factor by 14.5 percent
• Antisocial personality disorder – This is the top illness, raising risk for substance abuse by 15.5 percent
Typical Mental Illness Conditions That Are Part of Dual Diagnosis
There are a wide range of psychiatric and mental conditions that can be diagnosed along with substance abuse in a dual diagnosis case. Some of the conditions include:
• Eating disorders – These can range from anorexia, bulimia, and binging.
• Anxiety disorders – Panic, PTSD (Post traumatic stress disorder), general anxiety, or OCD can all be part of this condition.
• Mood disorders – Bipolar, mania, depression are all part of the mood disorder category.
• Personality disorders – From schizophrenia to antisocial disorder to a borderline personality, these are all part of the personality disorders.
What Makes a Dual Diagnosis Harder to Treat?
Dual diagnosis treatments can be difficult due to the need to treat two equally harsh conditions in the person. You need to have a full recovery facility that is designed to take care of your mind and body, working with issues that may arise from your weaning off drugs and alcohol. No matter what treatment options you choose for your mental illness and substance abuse issue, you should look for care that includes:
• A family friendly approach – Your care facility should take into account your family in your therapy. They may be part of group meetings or they may need individual therapy, but families of dual diagnosis patients will need to be cared for and be made aware of their loved ones therapy plan.
• Medications – While drug addiction therapies try to wean a client off drugs, you should not negate the fact that some medications may help you or your loved one. Anti-anxiety and antidepressant medications may be needed to calm your thoughts and get your brain chemicals back in balance.
What Treatment Options are for Dual Diagnosis Clients?
Treatment options for a dual diagnosis patient is a complicated process. Your counselor or facility will work with experts to determine precisely what treatments may work in you or your loved one’s case. There is not a single treatment option that is going to work with everyone. Your mental status will need to be determined, along with determining what substance you are abusing. When you are seeking treatment, many options will be described for you, such as:
• Group therapy – This treatment plan puts you or a loved one in a group setting which is safe and secure to discuss their abuse and addiction. They can talk over their problems, their therapy, and their general lives.
• One-on-One therapy – This type of treatment has you alone with a therapist to discuss your issues and your abuse problems. With dual diagnosis, this can be a drug counselor or a psychological professional.
• Medically supervised withdrawal – This therapy allows you to withdraw your body from the effects of the drugs under a doctor controlled medically supervised environment. Much safer than cold turkey, you’ll be surrounded by health professionals for the time you need.
• Faith-based services – Soul counseling to get your abuse and mental condition under control can be helpful. With faith-based counseling, your treatment will be tied in with your spiritual needs.
• CBT, or cognitive behavior therapy – With CBT you are asked to changed your thought process about the mental condition, the thoughts that led you to abuse drugs, and the substance abuse issue itself. With CBT, you change your manner of looking at the world, in a hope to stay on a sober lifestyle path.
There are many addiction treatment facilities which treat dual diagnosis. If you or a loved one have problems with dual diagnosis, there is help for you to recover and have a healthy, normal life ahead.