For those struggling with substance abuse, drug treatment the is best option for them to truly address the issues that have kept them stuck in their addiction. While in treatment, patients will undergo a highly intensive and individualized plan which includes a combination of medical detoxification, therapy, coping skills training and relapse prevention education. These essential treatment services empower the addict to move past their addiction and help them embrace a new and healthy recovery-based lifestyle.

For those who suffer from both mental illness and drug abuse, the recovery process becomes more difficult. For those who have co-occurring disorders, the abuse of drugs and alcohol are seen as merely a symptom of a deeper-seated mental issue. In these cases, traditional drug treatment programs may not thoroughly address the specific issues addicts with mental illnesses suffer through on a daily basis. The relationship between substance abuse and mental illness is complex, and drug treatment must have the programming and resources to adequately deal with these issues.

Understanding the Concept of Dual Diagnosis

girl suffering from drug abuse and mental illness

For those who suffer from a substance abuse issue as well as a mental illness, they are seen as having what is commonly referred to as a dual diagnosis. Dual diagnosis in of itself is a broad category and a variety of conditions can be present depending on the person. For instance, dual diagnosis can range from someone developing a mild from depression because of binge drinking episode to and underlying case of bipolar disorder becoming more severe when someone abuses heroin during periods when they experience manic episodes.

As previously stated, the link between drug abuse and mental illness can be complex, and the reason stems from the fact that either substance abuse or mental illness can develop first. A person who is experiencing mental illness may turn to drugs and alcohol as a form of self-medication to relieve the symptoms that are experiencing with their particular illness. While those suffering from a mental illness may feel a certain amount of relief, when they use substances in this capacity, the reprieve is short-lived and can make the symptoms of mental health conditions worse over time.

On the other hand, abusing substances can also lead to mental health problems–even if those people who may not have an underlying mental health issue or family history of mental illness. This is due to the fact that drugs and alcohol have substantial and lasting effects on a person’s moods, thoughts, brain chemistry and their overall behavior.

How Common is Dual Diagnosis in Addiction?

The prevalence of drug abuse and mental illness is more common that many people may think. The following statistics from SAMHSA states the following:

  • It is estimated that about 17.5 million Americans over the age of 18–or 8 percent of the entire adult population–had a serious mental health disorder in the past year. Of these, about 4 million people also struggled with a co-occurring drug or alcohol dependency.
  • In the span of six years, the percentage of patients in drug rehab seeking help for addiction issues who were also diagnosed with a co-occurring mental health disorder increased from 12 percent to 16 percent.
  • More than half of those living with co-occurring drug abuse and mental health issues did not receive any medical treatment or psychotherapeutic intervention to help them progress in their recovery.
  • It is estimated that of the adults living with co-occurring disorders, 34 percent receive mental health treatment, 2 percent enroll in drug rehab, and 12 percent get the help they need for both disorders.
  • Of the almost 3 million adults employed and living with a Dual Diagnosis, only about 40 percent received any treatment intervention at all for either disorder and less than 5 percent received treatment for both issues.

What are the Common Symptoms Seen With Dual Diagnosis?

For those who struggle with substance abuse and a mental disorder simultaneously, the symptoms can be widely varied. There are many combinations of disorders that can occur, but the most hallmark symptoms seen in those who have dual diagnosis issues can include the following:

  • Withdrawal from friends and family.
  • Sudden changes in behavior.
  • Using substances under dangerous conditions.
  • Engaging in risky behaviors when drunk or high.
  • Loss of control over use of substances.
  • Doing things you wouldn’t normally do to maintain your habit.
  • Developing tolerance and withdrawal symptoms.
  • Feeling like you need the drug to be able to function.

Additional symptoms include wide and unpredictable mood swings, confused thinking, problems concentrating and thoughts of suicide.

Treatment Considerations

When looking for treatment, those who have mental illness and substance abuse issues have special considerations that need to be kept in mind. Many people with dual diagnosis often feel a great deal of shame and guilt and may feel ambivalent about drug treatment and may refuse help. If people with dual diagnosis do get to treatment, they may have an overall lack of motivation to take the treatment process seriously and to a degree which it would be beneficial for their long-term health. That it is why it is important that the treatment facility has both addiction professional and expert mental health staff collaborating on a comprehensive treatment plan.

In addition to a comprehensive plan that will address a person’s psychological needs, effective drug treatment needs to include the essential services of medical detoxification, individual and group therapy, holistic therapy and healing, life and coping skills training and aftercare options including intensive outpatient counseling and sober living. Being involved in some form of 12-step or other sober support group is also important in helping those with mental health and drug addiction issues realize long-term recovery.

Call Ocean Breeze Recovery Today

If you or a family member is struggling with dual diagnosis, you may feel that the treatment options that are available may not fit all of your needs. Fortunately, Ocean Breeze Recovery Center features drug and alcohol treatment programs that also feature a strong mental health component. If you would like to know more information on our effective. evidence based dual diagnosis treatment programs, call Ocean Breeze Recovery Center today.

2 Responses

Add a Comment