Dual Diagnosis Treatment

What is Dual Diagnosis?

Dual Diagnosis or co-occurring disorder is a term used when an individual experiences both a mental illness and a substance use disorder simultaneously. Individuals who experience a mental health condition may turn to drugs or alcohol to alleviate their emotional pain. In many instances, substances are abused as a form of self-medication in an effort to manage or improve their mental health symptoms. 

An addiction to alcohol and drugs is a mental illness defined as substance-use disorder. Common mental health disorders include anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and PTSD. Either disorder – substance use or mental illness – can develop first. Research shows that alcohol and drugs worsen the symptoms of mental illness. 

Over 7.9 million Americans have both a substance-use disorder and another mental health disorder. Having two disorders at the same time is also known as “comorbidity” and it can make treating each disorder more difficult.

Factors That Can Aggravate a Mental Health or Substance Use

  • Brain Responses: drug abuse can elicit symptoms that appear to be a mental illness, like excessive marijuana use that can give rise to psychosis in some individuals, which is a severe mental disorder that causes a person to lose touch with reality.
  • Genetics: the genetic predisposition of an individual can put them at a higher risk for developing a mental disorder.  Research shows that genes make up 40% to 60% of a person’s susceptibility to becoming an addict.
  • Environmental Triggers: chronic stress, persistent anxiety or a traumatic event can trigger an onset of an addiction or mental disorder.
  • Exposure at an Early Age: people who start to experiment with drugs and alcohol at a young age can develop a substance abuse problem and/or mental health disorder later on in life.  Adolescents and young adults are at a greater risk for brain damage from substance abuse compared to older adults.

Symptoms of Dual Diagnosis

The symptoms for dual diagnosis can vary widely due to the endless combinations of co-occurring disorders that can be present.  Mental health clinics have begun using alcohol and drug screening tools to help with identifying people who are at risk for drug and alcohol abuse.  Some symptoms of substance abuse disorder may include:

  • Isolation or withdrawing from family and friends
  • Changes in behavior that are sudden
  • Using substances in dangerous situations
  • Involvement in risky behavior
  • Loss of control with substance abuse
  • Having a high tolerance and withdrawal symptoms
  • The belief that you need drugs to be able to cope or function

The symptoms of a mental health condition can also vary.  Some warning signs to look for are: 

  • Extreme changes in mood
  • Confusion or problems concentrating
  • Avoidance of friends and social situations and activities
  • Suicidal thoughts

These signs and symptoms may be a definite warning to seek help.

Treatment of Dual Diagnosis

Treating dual diagnosis can be difficult because it is complicated to try to determine the cause of certain symptoms.  For example, if a patient has depression, there is no way to say whether the drug addiction or mental illness is the root cause of the problem.

People with dual diagnosis are seen as high-risk patients.  Battling with a mental illness comes with its own list of difficulties but combining that with an addiction puts the patient at a higher suicide risk and a tendency to be more violent.

The best treatment for dual diagnosis is an integrated intervention in which a person receives care for both their mental health disorder, as well as their substance-use disorder. Many people abuse substances because the circumstances of their lives can be so overwhelming. It is imperative to uncover the underlying reasons for substance-use as they are often linked to a mental health disorder.  Proper evaluations and treatment plans combined with assessing the presence or absence of a mental health disorder is crucial to long-term success. 

It is important to choose a mental health provider that is qualified in treating dual diagnosis.  The individual and their chosen treatment provider should have a mutual understanding of the ways each condition can affect the other.  Discussions on how treatment can be most effective should occur. Treatment planning and strategies for dual diagnosis are not streamlined and will differ from patient to patient.

Common Dual Diagnosis Treatment Involves:

At Renewal Behavioral Health, we utilize a wide variety of therapeutic approaches and evidence-based treatment modalities including:  

Additional Treatment Elements Include:

  • Daily Individual therapy
  • Group Therapy
  • Family therapy
  • Neurofeedback
  • Neuropsychological diagnostic testing
  • Mindfulness meditation
  • Yoga
  • Recreational therapy
  • Holistic Therapies
  • Nutritional counseling
  • Eye movement desensitization reprocessing (EMDR) for trauma therapy 

What is A Dual Diagnosis Residential Treatment Program?

In a dual diagnosis residential treatment program, clients engage in comprehensive, individualized treatment programs focused on addressing the unique needs of the individual. 

Research shows that treating both disorders at the same time leads to much better outcomes. Individuals within a dual diagnosis residential treatment program have a primary mental health disorder or psychiatric diagnosis such as major depression, anxiety disorder, or bipolar illness along with a co-occurring substance use disorder. In the past, these individuals may have tried to treat their disorders individually and did not have much success.

For those individuals who are in need of dual-diagnosis treatment, Renewal Behavioral Health is here to help. We are a mental health residential treatment facility that can treat dual-diagnosis clients with a primary mental health disorder. At Renewal Behavioral Health, we can help you restore a sense of control to your life. 

Contact us today to learn more about how Renewal Behavioral Health can help you with dual diagnosis treatment.