Someone who is struggling with substance abuse as well as a mental health problem like depression, bipolar disorder, PTSD, or anxiety is considered to have a dual diagnosis, also known as a co-occurring disorder. The National Alliance on Mental Illness estimates that more than one-third of people who abuse drugs or alcohol also suffer from some type of mental illness. The National Institute on Drug Abuse considers mental illness to be a major risk factor for addiction.
Alcohol and/or drug abuse and mental illness have a complex relationship. Many people with a mental illness use drugs or alcohol to self-medicate. Unfortunately, drug and alcohol use tends to make an underlying mental health problem worse. This is why it’s important to seek out a dual diagnosis treatment program to treat both problems simultaneously.
Dual Diagnosis is a Complex Problem
It’s believed that anywhere from one-third to one-half of people with an alcohol or drug problem also have an underlying mental illness. In many cases, the mental illness develops first and then, in an attempt to manage symptoms, individuals may choose to self-medicate with drugs or alcohol. This situation is difficult to treat because it can be hard to recognize which symptoms are related to substance abuse and which are related to the mental illness. Many addiction and recovery programs are simply not equipped to handle the complex needs of these patients.
What Makes a Dual Diagnosis Treatment Program Different?
This form of substance abuse treatment is different because it provides an integrated approach that treats the addiction and mental illness together. Rehabilitation may take longer as the program is designed to move at a pace at which patients feel most comfortable. This form of treatment includes education about each patient’s disorder along with coping strategies to manage stress and address triggers, which often cause a disorder to flare up.
Patients learn to identify and develop their own recovery goals and participate in special counseling designed for people struggling with drug abuse as well as a mental illness. This counseling may be done on an individual level as well as with a group of peers. Treatment for the psychiatric problem will depend on the diagnosis, although group therapy and medication are helpful for many patients.
There is a Path to Recovery – Our Dual Diagnosis Treatment Program
Substance abuse can happen to anyone and it can be hard to find a way out. This is especially true for people with a dual diagnosis. While treating addiction along with an underlying psychiatric problem is challenging, a professional, integrated treatment program can make all the difference toward living a happier, healthier life.
If you or someone you love is struggling with alcohol or drug abuse that is compounding an underlying mental health problem, the first step toward recovery is seeking help. It’s possible to take control of your life and overcome these challenges! Call Steps to Recovery today at 267-244-1107 to find out more about a dual diagnosis treatment program.