Dual Diagnosis Treatment

When someone has a substance use disorder that is active and is negatively impacting his or her life, it can be easy to chalk up all of his or her behaviors to the fact that he or she is often under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol. Behaviors such as impulsivity, withdrawal from friends and family, agitation, and even changes in appetite can all be symptoms of a substance use disorder. However, they can also be symptomatic of an additional problem.

Today, nearly half of those with a substance use disorder also struggle with one or more mental health conditions. This is known as a dual diagnosis.

What is a Dual Diagnosis?

As mentioned before, a dual diagnosis is when both a substance use disorder and one or more mental illnesses are occurring simultaneously. Some of the most common dual diagnoses include alcohol use disorder and antisocial personality disorder, opiate use disorder and posttraumatic stress disorder, and stimulant use disorder and depression.

It can be difficult to determine the origins of the substance use disorder or the mental illness that a patient is experiencing because it can be unclear which condition developed first in some cases. While some people know that they began abusing addictive substances to self-medicate a diagnosed mental illness like depression or anxiety, others might not have been aware of a mental illness or if symptoms of one developed in response to the substance use disorder.

It is reported that nearly 8 million people nationwide experience a dual diagnosis in their lifetime. Also, 45% of people with a substance use disorder also have a co-occurring mental illness. It is most common for those with the following mental illnesses to experience a dual diagnosis:

  • Bipolar disorder
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Anxiety
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Depression
  • Panic disorder
  • Schizophrenia

The most commonly abused drugs in accordance with these mental illnesses include opioids like heroin and fentanyl, stimulants like cocaine and meth, benzodiazepines like Ativan and Xanax, and alcohol.

Signs of a Dual Diagnosis

When someone is experiencing a dual diagnosis, it can be extremely challenging to pinpoint what his or her most pressing issues are in relation to his or her physical and psychological wellbeing. Everything can easily become blurry in the sense that one symptom flows into another symptom and so on. But when made aware of what look for, it can be easier to recognize a dual diagnosis when it is occurring. This can be critical not only for the friends, family, and loved ones of someone with a dual diagnosis, but also imperative for the person with the dual diagnosis. While many people find their way into treatment because of the encouragement and persistence of loved ones, several others made the decision to get help on their own, which is why it is so important that everyone is educated about dual diagnosis.

Someone who has a dual diagnosis is going to display several different symptoms. Many of those symptoms will be based on the type of mental illness that he or she has as well as the kind of substances that he or she is abusing. Someone who has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and who is abusing cocaine may frequently appear extremely energetic, overly talkative, and seeming scattered in many different directions. A person who is struggling with depression and who is abusing heroin, on the other hand, may appear sluggish, detached from his or her surroundings, and unfocused.

While signs of a dual diagnosis are bound to vary, there are a multitude of hallmark symptoms that can serve as a red flag that both a substance use disorder and a mental illness are occurring at the same time. Consider the following:

  • Being unable to feel content or happy in life without the use of mind-altering substances, and not being able to recall a time when content or happy without being under the influence
  • Utilizing drugs and/or alcohol to drown out feelings of sadness, stress, anger, or anxiety, or to block out traumatic experiences or other issues that are difficult to face
  • Having a past history of one or more traumatic events

In addition to these symptoms, many people with a dual diagnosis also display common symptoms of substance use disorder in a much stronger, bolder manner, including:

  • Struggling to keep a job or find employment
  • Having difficulty maintaining relationships with friends, family, loved ones, and other acquaintances
  • Experiencing financial problems due to being unable to maintain employment or because of excessive spending to support one’s habit
  • Suffering from constant and unpredictable mood swings

Having a dual diagnosis often causes individuals to experience symptoms at a much more intense rate, as mentioned above. This is usually because both the substance use disorder and the mental illness are working against one another, making each condition worse as it continues.

Unfortunately, the majority of people with a dual diagnosis do not get the professional addiction treatment they need in order to learn how to manage their mental illness and abstain from abusing drugs and/or alcohol. Those who do receive treatment, however, can benefit from living a life that is less chaotic, stressful, and overwhelming.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment at Taylor Recovery Center

For decades, those patients who presented with symptoms of a mental illness and symptoms of a substance use disorder received separate treatment for each condition. In fact, it was common practice that when an individual with a dual diagnosis went to obtain treatment, he or she was asked to return once he or she stopped abusing drugs and/or alcohol. Today, people who have a dual diagnosis are not turned away from treatment, rather they are provided with a comprehensive, integrated treatment plan that focuses on addressing both conditions head-on at the same time.

Those who get dual diagnosis treatment at Taylor Recovery Center will benefit from combined treatment no matter what level of programming they enter into, whether it is residential treatment, outpatient treatment, or a partial hospitalization program.

Residential treatment serves as the top level of dual diagnosis treatment at Taylor Recovery Center. Through this program, patients will live on campus and spend anywhere from 30-90 days participating in services ranging from detox to therapy. An outpatient program, which is the lowest level of addiction treatment, allows patients to live at home while getting professional care for both their substance use disorder and their mental illness. This program lasts anywhere from 6-8 weeks. And, partial hospitalization (which also lasts between 6-8 weeks), is a mid-level treatment that provides daily therapeutic and medical treatment to patients who have a dual diagnosis that requires regular medical care.

Integrated care

Integrated care is the gold standard treatment approach for a dual diagnosis, where treatment professionals provide numerous services designed to treat both conditions simultaneously to patients.

A patient who is received integrated care for dual diagnosis treatment at Taylor Recovery Center will have a number of different elements working in his or her favor. For example, through thorough assessments, evaluation, and time spent with a professional therapist or psychologist, a patient may be provided with medication that is proven effective in the treatment of his or her specific mental illness. The prescription of medications like antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications, etc. is usually done as quickly as possible, as it can take a few weeks for medications such as these to reach their full potential. While the medication is building in one’s system, the same therapists and other professionals in treatment will continue to work with the patient, providing therapies such as individual therapy, group therapy, behavioral therapy, and even experiential therapy. Additional therapies that are more geared towards specific mental illnesses, such as eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) or dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) can be provided based on the needs of the patient.

It is common for those with a dual diagnosis to require more time in a treatment and recovery environment, which is where sober living comes in. Several patients at Taylor Recovery Center move into sober living homes after completing their treatment program so that they can continue to have the support needed to transition back into everyday life. Living in a sober home affords patients the comfort of living amongst others with similar recovery goals, living in a space that is free of drugs and/or alcohol, and being in a place that is overall conducive to his or her recovery.

Get Professional Help at Taylor Recovery Center Today

Struggling with a dual diagnosis can be mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausting. Dual diagnosis treatment at Taylor Recovery Center can help you address the issues related to both the mental illness and the substance use disorder so that you can begin to unload the extra stress and baggage you have been carrying around.

If you are ready to get the treatment that you need in order to thrive in life and enjoy it, do not hesitate to call Taylor Recovery Center right now. We can help.

You or your loved one can be in treatment today.


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