Many today have heard of the word dual diagnosis, and this had led them to keep asking; what is dual diagnosis treatment? And what is dual diagnosis care like? Well, for such ones and also for those who think they know dual diagnosis, this article is for you. We are going to focus on the two question raised in the previous sentence.
What is dual diagnosis?
Dual diagnosis is the term used when a person has a mood disorder such as depression or bipolar disorder (also known as manic depression) and a problem with alcohol or drugs. A person who has a dual diagnosis has two separate illnesses, and each illness needs its own treatment plan.
Dual diagnosis treatment is a relatively new innovation in the field of addiction recovery. Until the 1990s, people who were experiencing symptoms of a mental health disorder — anxiety attacks, depressive episodes, delusional behavior or mood swings — were treated separately from those who sought help for drug or alcohol abuse. When these conditions overlapped, clients were often denied treatment for a mental illness until they got clean and sober. Unfortunately, because substance abuse is often driven by an underlying psychiatric disorder, this meant that many people with a Dual Diagnosis of addiction and a mental disorder never got the help they needed.
However, there is help and hope.
Mood disorders and alcohol/drug problems are both treatable illnesses. They are not moral weaknesses or character flaws. They can affect anyone, regardless of age, ethnicity or economic background. Studies have shown that more than half of the people who have depression or bipolar disorder also use alcohol and/or drugs.
Now, what are the main points to watch out for in a dual diagnosis treatment program?
You may need to go to more than one doctor and attend more than one support group. All of your treatment providers should be aware that you have a dual diagnosis.
- Pharmacological therapy is a key component of treatment when it comes to Dual Diagnosis rehabilitation. Medications are often prescribed to stabilize moods, reduce anxiety and agitation, prevent flashbacks to traumatic events or prevent hallucinations.
- Although psychiatric medication was once discouraged in substance abuse treatment programs, Dual Diagnosis care providers understand the importance of continuing pharmacotherapy throughout drug or alcohol rehab.
- Another intrinsic part that makes up a great dual diagnosis program is the educative part of it. Educating spouses, partners, children and siblings about addiction and mental health is another important part of your recovery. The more informed your loved ones are about the nature of your condition, the more likely they are to support you in your recovery journey. Family counselling, 12-step meetings and peer support groups are available for friends and loved ones who want to help you meet your recovery goals.
What is dual diagnosis treatment like?
There is no single treatment option that works for everyone with a Dual Diagnosis. The range of mental health disorders is broad, and the relationship between your psychiatric condition and your substance abuse is complicated.
People who seek treatment for addiction and mental illness may be diagnosed with:
- A mood disorder, such as major depression or bipolar disorder.
- An anxiety disorder, such as generalized anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder or obsessive-compulsive disorder.
- A personality disorder, such as borderline personality disorder or antisocial disorder.
- An eating disorder, such as bulimia, binge eating disorder or anorexia.
In order to be effective, your recovery plan must address your specific disorder as well as your personal history of addictive behavior. The level of care you need will be based on the extent of your substance abuse and the severity of your psychiatric condition. Clients who have recently been using drugs or alcohol heavily or who have had severe signs of mental illness, such as psychotic episodes or suicidal thoughts, may benefit from a residential treatment program that provides intensive, round-the-clock monitoring and care.
Clients who are physically and mentally stable may be referred to an outpatient treatment program, where they can continue to live at home, go to work and take care of family members while they go through rehab. In order to reap the benefits of outpatient care, you must be strongly dedicated to your recovery. Without constant supervision, it’s easier to backslide in your treatment program.