What is Dual Diagnosis?
Dual Diagnosis is a term used for individuals who have a psychological or behavioral illness concurrent with alcohol or drug addiction. In most cases, one condition contributes to, or worsens, the symptoms of the other condition. For example, someone with a psychological disorder may start using drugs or alcohol to cope with their symptoms. Or alternatively, substance abuse may exacerbate the symptoms of an underlying mental condition.
How Common Is A Dual Diagnosis?
According to DualDiagnosis.org, 4 million Americans over the age of 18 who have a mental health disorder also struggle with a co-occurring alcohol or drug dependency. However, only a small fraction of these people seek professional help to overcome their addiction and receive treatment for the illness.
What are the Signs and Symptoms of Dual Diagnosis?
Since alcohol or drug addiction itself produces a range of psychiatric symptoms, it can be very difficult to determine if the psychological symptoms are substance induced or caused by an underlying mental health disorder. However, there are a few signs and symptoms that are commonly encountered in addicts who have a concurrent mental illness. These include:
- Change in appetite and sleep patterns
- Feeling of hopelessness, fear, and guilt
- Lack of energy
- Lack of interest in daily activities
- Suicidal thoughts
What Makes Treatment of Dual Diagnosis Unique?
Clients who are struggling with drug addiction and a mental illness require an integrated intervention. The treatment plan focuses on providing care for both substance abuse and mental illness. Since there are a variety of mental health disorders that may accompany alcohol or drug addiction, treatment will not be the same for every client
Generally speaking, the treatment of a dual diagnosis comprises of the following interventions:
- Detoxification — The purpose of detoxification is to help a client get off the drug in a safe, medically supervised environment. To minimize the severity of withdrawal symptoms and improve patient comfort, the clients may be administered tapering amounts of the substance, as well as some medicines to relieve withdrawal symptoms.
- Psychotherapy — Psychotherapy is an essential part of any dual diagnosis treatment plan. The purpose is to educate clients about their illness and how reconditioning the beliefs and behaviors may help relieve the symptoms.
- Support Groups — Clients who are coping with drug addiction and a mental illness often feel isolated. Support groups help clients change this ineffective pattern of thinking and provide them a platform to share their feelings.
If you would like more information on the treatment of dual diagnosis, please call us at (888) 453-9396.
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