A dual diagnosis is made when a patient has a mental illness accompanying a substance addiction. Both the addiction and the mental illness cited in a dual diagnosis are two separate illnesses requiring treatment, and although treatment for each must be separate, they should ideally be integrated.
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Studies have recently found that the prevalence of patients who receive a dual diagnosis is far higher than once thought. One study found that half of all people with a serious mental condition and a third of those with any mental illness are also addicted to a psychoactive substance like drugs or alcohol, and half of those with a drug addiction and a third of those with alcoholism also have a mental health condition.
Two major factors contribute to the high number of people with a dual diagnosis. First, those with a mental condition often use alcohol or drugs to self-medicate. For example, someone who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder may use alcohol to help combat insomnia and nightmares.
Secondly, using drugs and alcohol will nearly always worsen the severity of an existing mental illness, and it can cause mental illness symptoms to appear even though there was no history of mental problems before the abuse of drugs or alcohol began.
If you or someone you know is struggling with co-existing disorders, contact an addiction specialist at Drug Treatment Centers Westport today at (203) 571-0064.
While depression and anxiety are the most common mental illnesses that accompany an addiction, a wide range of mental health disorders may be part of a dual diagnosis.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is characterized by ritualistic or repetitive behaviors that ward off unpleasant and intrusive thoughts. Those with OCD may use drugs or alcohol to “numb the brain” to relieve some of the symptoms of the illness.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is the result of being the victim of or witnessing a traumatic event, and it causes nightmares, insomnia, flashbacks, and emotional instability. PTSD sufferers may use drugs or alcohol to achieve dreamless sleep, combat insomnia, and to “forget.”
Eating disorders are characterized by an unhealthy relationship with food, eating, and exercise and stem from low self-esteem and a skewed body image. Those with eating disorders may abuse drugs and alcohol to feel better about themselves or to suppress their appetite.
A dual diagnosis treatment center is the ideal way to treat a co-occurring disorder. The programs available at Westport Drug Rehab Centers specialize in treating both illnesses as a collaborative effort among the patient and the treatment teams for each illness. Here, treatment for one illness is fully integrated with the treatment for the other, which is essential for improving the chances of long-term recovery. The three most effective treatment therapies for co-occurring disorders are:
After drug rehab treatment is successfully completed, an aftercare plan will be individualized and set in motion to help prevent relapse. The relapse prevention plan typically involves ongoing group, individual, and family therapy, continued monitoring of the mental illness and medications used to treat it, and participation in community recovery groups like AA or Smart Recovery.
Depending on individual needs, the aftercare plan may also include vocational rehab, help finding safe housing, or time spent at a sober living facility to ease the transition back home. A case manager will perform ongoing evaluation of the aftercare plan and make changes based on changing and emerging needs.
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