A dual diagnosis, also known as a co-occurring disorder, is caused when someone who has an addiction to drugs or alcohol also has a mental illness. Each of the illnesses present in a dual diagnosis requires separate treatment, but treatments for each should be integrated. To learn more about which treatment options can help your condition, contact Drug Rehab Centers New Canaan today at (203) 242-8275.
A recent study found that half of people with a serious mental illness and a third of those with any type of mental condition were also addicted to drugs or alcohol. Additionally, a third of people who are addicted to alcohol and half of those who are addicted to drugs also have a co-occurring mental illness.
Experts cite two major reasons for the high prevalence of dual diagnosis. First, people who have a mental illness are likely to use drugs or alcohol to self-medicate. Secondly, drugs and alcohol worsen mental illnesses almost all of the time, and they may even cause the onset of a mental condition that didn’t previously exist.
While any mental illness can accompany a substance addiction, the most common mental illnesses cited in dual diagnoses include anxiety and depression. Anxiety causes feelings of irrational fear and makes coping with stress difficult.
Depression causes feelings of hopelessness and sadness. People with anxiety may abuse drugs or alcohol to alleviate intense fear or to make coping with social situations easier. People with depression may abuse drugs or alcohol to lift their mood or to numb their unpleasant feelings.
The most effective drug treatment for a co-occurring disorder will take place through a dual diagnosis treatment center, which specializes in treating each illness through a meaningful collaboration among the treatment teams for each illness. However, many recovery centers can address both the addiction and the mental illness through various types of treatment.
The first phase of treatment is medical detoxification, during which the physical addiction is broken by withholding drugs or alcohol so that brain function can return to normal. During medical detox, medications will be administered to reduce the severity of withdrawal symptoms and prevent dangerous medical conditions that may accompany withdrawal from some substances.
The treatment phase uses various therapies to address the complex psychological and mental health issues underlying the addiction:
Once treatment has been successfully completed, an aftercare plan is developed based on the patient’s unique needs and challenges. The aftercare plan will include committing to regular recovery group meetings, ongoing psychotherapy, and the continued assessment of the mental illness and any medications being used to treat it.
Other components may include programs like a sober living facility to ease the transition from rehab back to the community or vocational rehab to help patients develop workplace skills so that they can find and keep a job, which has been found to promote long-term recovery.