About half of people with a substance use disorder have a dual diagnosis, also known as co-occurring disorders. That’s why it’s important to get addiction treatment that addresses both substance abuse and underlying issues that fuel it such as co-occurring disorders.
What Is Dual Diagnosis?
If you struggle with addiction and at least one mental health disorder at the same time, you have a dual diagnosis. People with mental health issues often use substance abuse, eating disorders, or other destructive behavior as a way to ease symptoms from depressive disorders, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety disorders, and other conditions. On the other hand, substance abuse can change the brain, causing psychiatric symptoms, which are similar to mental health disorders.
Common co-occurring disorders with addiction include:
Mood disorders like depression, bipolar disorder, and dysthymia commonly co-occur with addictive behavior. About one-third of people with major depressive disorder also have a substance use disorder.
People struggling with drug addictions and alcohol abuse may also have anxiety. Common co-occurring anxiety disorders include:
- Generalized anxiety disorder
- Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Panic disorder
- Social anxiety
Some research shows 65-90% of people with personality disorders have substance use disorders. High-risk personality disorders include:
- Borderline personality disorder
- Antisocial personality disorder
Some data shows around 50% of people with an eating disorder struggle with drug abuse or alcohol addiction.
Other Mental Health Conditions
People with alcohol and drug addictions may also have psychiatric disorders such as schizoaffective disorder, schizophrenia, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Signs of Dual Diagnosis?
Some symptoms of mental health conditions and addiction can be similar. Only a psychiatric or medical professional can determine what your symptoms are attributed to and the best way to treat them. Though they will vary by individual and type of addiction and mental health disorder, some general symptoms of a dual diagnosis include:
- Changes in behaviors
- Social avoidance or fear
- Difficulty thinking or concentrating
- Feeling the need for drugs or alcohol to feel normal
- Excessive sadness
- Changes in personal hygiene and sleep
- Poor performance and/or excessive absences at work or school
- Unrealistic and intense concern with weight and appearance
- Sudden changes in sex drive
- Financial issues
- Increased hunger or lack of appetite
- Extreme mood changes
- Intense anger
- Using drugs or alcohol despite negative effects on life
- Difficulty relating to others
- Frequent and multiple physical pains
- Suicidal thoughts
- Visual, sensory, or auditory hallucinations
How Do You Treat Dual Diagnosis?
Today, most substance abuse treatment programs provide dual diagnosis treatment. Dual diagnosis treatment means that both your mental illness and substance use disorder are being treated at the same time. Vogue Recovery Center individualizes our addiction and mental health treatment programs to each client’s needs, but your care may include:
Drug and Alcohol Detox
Detoxification allows your body to rid itself of drugs and toxins while under medical supervision. We use research-backed medications to ease drug and alcohol withdrawal symptoms and our nurses monitor you around the clock, making sure you’re safe and as comfortable as possible.
Inpatient Rehab or Partial Hospitalization Program
We give you an in-depth biopsychosocial (BPS) assessment upon admission. This information gathering helps us create an appropriate treatment plan for you. It is also imperative for determining what medications may help alleviate your symptoms.
Depending on the severity of your addiction and mental health condition, you may require residential treatment. You’ll live in a home-like setting with peers in recovery and attend addiction treatment during the day. This gives you space away from triggers and stressors to focus on yourself.
A partial hospitalization program (PHP) is an option that provides intensive day treatment, but you live at home or in sober-living residences. Some people enter a drug rehab center at this level or transition into a PHP after residential treatment.
During addiction and mental health treatment you’ll take part in:
- Individual therapy
- Group therapy
- Mental health and addiction therapies
- Trauma therapies
- Holistic approaches
- Relapse-prevention skills training
- Medication management
- Peer support
As you become more confident in your sobriety, you’ll move into our intensive outpatient program (IOP). You can live at home or in sober-living residences and attend groups and individual sessions during the week on a lesser scale. At the IOP level, you’ll likely return to work or look for employment as part of your treatment goal. You may also be able to return home and work through triggers with the IOP staff who will understand this transition and watch for signs of relapse. You’ll eventually move from our intensive outpatient program into outpatient treatment that meets just one to three hours a week.
Medications may be appropriate to treat mental illness symptoms, reducing the risk of relapsing trying to self-medicate symptoms.
Some of the most common medications prescribed for mental illness in a dual diagnosis situation include:
- Anti-anxiety medications
With medications, the risk of substance abuse is significantly reduced. The reasons they are effective:
- The medication treating the symptoms of mental illness eliminates the discomfort and pain that prompts many to self-medicate with drugs or alcohol.
- In addiction rehab, patients learn appropriate medication management, along with healthy lifestyle choices and tools to avoid relapse in the future.
Aftercare is a crucial phase in the treatment process. Your treatment team and peers will be a source of positive support in transitioning back into everyday life. You may return home or find a sober-living residence is more conducive to sobriety.
Your case manager and individual therapist will create an aftercare plan to support your recovery after treatment. This may include:
- Individual therapy
- Psychiatry appointments
- Medication management
- Medication-assisted therapy
- 12-step groups or 12-step alternatives
- Nutrition and fitness program
Why Is it Important to Treat Addiction and Mental Health Together?
Although substance abuse and mental illness often co-occur, addiction has not been found to cause mental illness directly. However, addiction and substance abuse can cause changes in the brain that may trigger the development of mental illness or exacerbate an existing mental illness. Some mental illnesses change the brain in a way that makes you more sensitive to the rewarding effects of substances.
People with mental illnesses are at an increased risk of developing a substance use disorder for a few reasons:
- Many people attempt to self-medicate their mental illness with drugs or alcohol.
- Effective treatment of some mental illnesses varies between individuals, and in some circumstances, certain medications may worsen mental illness, placing the individual at higher risk for substance abuse.
When mental health disorders and addiction are treated separately, it can cause a couple of issues:
- If you only receive treatment for alcohol or drug abuse, you are very likely to relapse quickly. The trigger being the untreated mental illness. You will feel a pull to self-medicate your symptoms with drugs and alcohol as you did before.
- When you don’t receive integrated treatment for mental health disorders and substance abuse, your treatment providers may not be on the same page. If you treat the conditions separately at different facilities or years apart, they may not have access to each other’s medical treatment and may not adequately address your needs.
It is always important to seek help if you have mental health disorder symptoms. One of the most common obstacles to people getting dual diagnosis help is denial. Often, mental illness can cause thoughts and beliefs that are contrary to reality, increasing the risk of denial, and taking appropriate steps to care for oneself.
As you struggle with mental illness and use drugs or alcohol to self-medicate, substance abuse often exacerbates the mental illness. It worsens the symptoms you’re seeking to medicate, thereby worsening addiction.
The cycle of mental illness and substance abuse never ends without dual diagnosis treatment. Substance abuse and mental health disorders can feed off each other. It’s important to attend a co-occurring disorder treatment program so you can get care for both issues at the same time. Otherwise, addiction becomes a circular problem. You use drugs or alcohol to medicate mental health symptoms or your addiction causes mental health symptoms.
Ready to Get Help?
Vogue Recovery Center offers evidence-based dual diagnosis treatment. Our addiction treatment programs are effective and engaging with treatment plans tailored to your unique needs and life experiences. We have seen countless clients take back their lives from mental health disorders and substance abuse. You can do it too.
We are in-network with several insurances and accept most major plans. Call us today to learn more about our addiction recovery program. We will provide you a free consultation and work directly with your insurance company to determine your addiction treatment coverage.