Dual-diagnosis addiction treatment is one of the most common types of treatment that individuals experiencing both a mental health disorder and a substance use disorder seek. That is because this approach treats both conditions at the same time, providing the most effective, lasting results. When someone with a dual diagnosis attends professional treatment that addresses all areas of concern, they are more likely to maintain their sobriety and mental health for much longer than someone who only gets one condition treated.
What is Dual Diagnosis?
A dual diagnosis (also known as a co-occurring disorder) occurs when someone is experiencing a mental illness and a substance use disorder simultaneously. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), approximately 45% of Americans have a dual diagnosis. It is not always clear which came first, the mental illness or the substance use disorder, but what is clear are the symptoms that someone experiencing this particular diagnosis can exhibit.
Consider the following symptoms of dual diagnosis:
- Using drugs or alcohol to self-medicate symptoms of a mental illness
- Feeling unable to function without drugs or alcohol
- Having a family history of substance abuse and/or mental illness
- Using drugs or alcohol to cope with emotional distress
- Changes in behavior, including sudden mood swings
- Isolating from friends, family, or loved ones
All dual diagnoses are not created equal, as there can be several different combinations of mental illness and substance use disorder that can occur alongside one another. However, these are some of the most common symptoms that are seen across the board, regardless of the combination of issues that are occurring. The best option for those who are displaying these symptoms is to seek dual-diagnosis addiction treatment.
How Mental Illness Triggers Addiction and Vice Versa
Some people have no problem determining which came first — mental illness or addiction. Others may be completely unsure of which condition is causing the other. Either way, both mental illnesses and substance use disorders play into one another in an extremely destructive way. Dual-diagnosis addiction treatment can help individuals iron out some of the unknowns.
When mental illness triggers addiction, it is typically because the symptoms of the mental illness become too difficult to manage on one’s own. Instead of reaching out for professional help, some individuals find more comfort in drinking and using drugs to self-medicate the symptoms they have. For example, someone with depression may turn to alcohol to help them get through their days, as the pain that comes with basic everyday living can be too much.
Someone with an anxiety disorder may abuse prescription medications like Xanax or Ativan in an effort to calm their nerves. Or, someone with bipolar disorder may abuse stimulant substances like cocaine or crack when they are experiencing a depressed state and alcohol or opioids when in a manic state.
When addiction triggers mental illness, it is because the substances that are being abused are affecting one’s mental state to the point where they start developing a mental health condition. An example of this includes meth-induced psychosis, where an individual has abused meth to an extent that they have developed symptoms of psychosis.
Or, someone who is an alcoholic may struggle with depression as a result of the ups and downs that getting drunk and then sobering up can cause. In some cases, when individuals stop abusing drugs or alcohol, the mental health symptoms they experience go away, too. But, that is not the case for everyone, as some people struggle with symptoms of mental illness for the rest of their lives.
Importance of Treating Both a Mental Illness and Addiction at the Same Time
In the past, healthcare providers would not entertain treating a client who was presenting with mental health issues if they were actively abusing drugs or alcohol. The general expectation was that if someone wanted help, they needed to get sober first. As time has passed, studies have shown that treating both conditions at the exact same time is the most effective, as attempting to treat them separately only allows for the continuation of the problem.
The symptoms and behaviors that are co-occurring need to be straightened out in order for real progress to be made. Therefore, seeking dual diagnosis addiction treatment is absolutely vital so that affected individuals can begin participating in therapies, taking medication (if necessary), and rebuilding their lives to support their recovery.
What to Look For in a Dual Diagnosis Treatment Program
There are several dual-diagnosis addiction treatment programs out there, but finding the right one is not always as easy as it might seem. If someone is considering seeking help from a dual-diagnosis addiction treatment program, make sure they can check off the following:
- The program is accredited
- The providers are properly licensed and qualified
- The program offers evidence-based therapies
- Clients can have individualized treatment plans based on their needs
Reaching out for help is not easy. Being aware of what to look for when they do make that leap of faith can make this process much smoother and get them moving in the right direction toward recovery.
Dual Diagnosis Treatment Around Knoxville
If you are ready to get the help you need to address your mental health and substance use disorder, do not hesitate to call us or visit our contact form to learn more about our programming. Our team of dedicated professionals looks forward to helping you make the changes you need so you can begin living the life you have always envisioned for yourself.
Do not wait any longer. You are worth it. Call us right now.