Within the frame of substance abuse treatment, dual diagnosis refers to treating addiction and a co-occurring mental health disorder at the same time. It’s immaterial whether drug addiction caused the mental health challenge, made it worse, or if the mental health disorder actually led to the addiction. Learn how therapists approach co-occurring disorders.
Not a Chicken vs. Egg Question
Against the backdrop of a successful drug addiction treatment, it’s important to realize that it doesn’t matter which came first. What does matter is the fact that a dual diagnosis assessment shows the presence of a mental illness. It’s there at the same time as a substance abuse problem. For the professional treating people struggling with addiction and psychological disorders, dealing with both conditions at the same time is vital.
Options for Dual Diagnosis Treatment
Many people dealing with depression, anxiety, or schizophrenia find that using addictive drugs eases their discomfort. Prescription medications that treat these conditions frequently help release dopamine, which is a neurotransmitter related to pleasure and reward. Interestingly, most drugs artificially increase dopamine levels in the body, which makes someone feel good and energetic for a brief period of time.
However, because a large number of drugs alter the body’s chemistry, they manipulate the neurotransmitter to withhold dopamine unless prompted. Since the body now only releases dopamine when the drug’s chemicals provoke it, dependence and addiction can develop quickly. The absence of this natural process makes recovery difficult and mental health challenges worse. Unless therapists focus on treating the dual diagnosis program participant, depression can set in and worsen chances for lasting sobriety.
Trauma and Substance Abuse
In situations where a psychological disorder precedes a substance abuse problem, trauma is frequently at the root. Traumatic experiences may lead back to childhood neglect, adolescent abuse, or something that happened during adulthood. Most commonly, people dealing with addictions don’t know that they’re also victims of a mental health issue. In fact, many have never received a formal diagnosis.
Treating drug addiction and a psychological disorder at the same time calls for concerted action, which may include:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy that focuses on dysfunctional thinking modification
- Acceptance and commitment therapy, which emphasizes developing better coping skills to change behaviors
- Dialectical behavioral therapy that focuses on regulating emotions
- Family program participation, which follows a trauma-informed approach to boost aftercare success
- 12 Step infused meetings and counseling to add another dimension to the treatment that benefits participants during their at-home recovery
Could You be a Good Candidate for Dual Diagnosis Treatment?
Did you know that men are far more likely than women to need dual diagnosis treatment? Other demographics with a high likelihood of presenting with the condition include military veterans and the chronically ill. Unless people with psychological conditions participate in customized addiction treatment programs that focus on these disorders, lifelong sobriety may elude them.
At Driftwood Recovery in Texas, our therapists and counselors fully understand the connection between addiction and mental illness.
Make the courageous decision to stop using drugs and start healing. Discover the benefits of our customized treatment approach. Call Driftwood Recovery today at 866-426-4694.