A dual diagnosis program is an integral part of many drug and alcohol recovery treatment centers. But unless you’re a health care professional, this may be the first time you’ve heard the term. Despite not being widely known, dual diagnosis is a common issue among substance abuse patients. In fact, acknowledging the need for dual diagnosis treatment can be crucial for recovery. But to know how to treat it, we must first understand what it is.
What Is Dual Diagnosis: A Definition
A dual diagnosis is a simultaneous existence of both a substance abuse problem and a psychological condition. For instance, someone prone to bouts of depression might find themself drinking to excess to avoid its symptoms. An individual with acute social anxiety might find cocaine an easy way to get prepared for social engagement.
Often, it can be almost impossible to tell which condition is the trigger and which is the result. Thankfully, knowing which comes first has no bearing on treating both issues. What is clear is that they feed off of each other. As a result, both need to be addressed with the same focus and determination.
What Is Dual Diagnosis: First Signs
How do you tell if you are suffering from a dual diagnosis? What should you look for? Consider the following list of potential indicators:
- Extreme mood swings—Combining drugs or alcohol with a mood disorder or other mental health problems can have wildly unpredictable consequences. It may suppress symptoms of instability or enhance them. It can lead to an ecstatic binge or a desperate cry for help. There’s nothing scientific about the process, so there no way to tell what result you’ll get. Times like these can put the user and those around him in considerable physical and mental danger.
- Responsibility issues—Even the most basic, day-to-day responsibilities can overwhelm a person suffering from the debilitating effects of a dual diagnosis. Running errands, dealing with family, keeping house, getting or keeping a job: it can all seem next to impossible given the chaos created by their condition.
- Overall ailment—A general sense of exhaustion, coupled with anger, frustration, and similar emotions, is to be expected.
What Is Dual Diagnosis: Treatment
Like any other substance abuse or psychological issue, there is no universal treatment for dual diagnosis. With two unique problems working concurrently, just disentangling them long enough to make a diagnosis can be challenging. However, once the illnesses have been identified, and a comprehensive recovery plan addressing both conditions has been mapped out, recovery is possible.
Here are a few methods for treating a dual diagnosis disorder:
- Medication—One of the fastest ways to see some relief, a wide variety of medicines are available to help treat the mental aspects of dual diagnosis.
- Therapy—Also a standard component of treatment plans, therapy helps individuals, groups, and families come to terms with both substance abuse and mental health disorders. With a better understanding of what they’re up against, more progress can be made.
- Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)—CBT is a prevalent method of treatment that focuses on problem-solving rather than unpacking the cause of problem behaviors.
Are you wondering if you or someone you love could be suffering from dual diagnosis? We’re here to help. At Crossroads in Portland, ME, we’re dedicated to helping women and men rediscover who they wanted to be before addiction, and mental illness took their toll. To learn more about our facilities and treatment programs, please contact us at 877.978.1667. A fresh start is waiting for you.