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Dual Diagnosis – Substance Abuse Plus Underlying Mental Health Issues

When an individual enters rehab for substance abuse, it is common for an additional mental health issue to come to light during consultations, therapy or by admission

When an individual enters rehab for substance abuse, it is common for an additional mental health issue to come to light during consultations, therapy or by admission. In some cases, the mental health issue may be what led to substance dependency or abuse, but in some cases, drug or alcohol dependency may have amplified the mental health issue.

This situation, which is not uncommon, is known as Dual Diagnosis. Since many addiction treatment centers are treating co-occurring disorders, it’s necessary for the client’s treatment plan to accommodate both diagnoses.

How is a Dual Diagnosis Discovered?

Addiction treatment centers begin each program with a full psychological evaluation, especially when clients are enrolled in an inpatient residential program. This evaluation helps to uncover any accompanying mental disorders that co-occur with a substance addiction problem. It is also possible that a client entering a rehabilitation program for substance addictions will reveal a mental health issue that contributed to substance abuse or has had a significant impact on his or her life.

It is also possible that individuals experience substance addictions may not even realize a mental illness is apparent. He or she may not have shown signs of a disorder or mental illness before abusing alcohol or drugs. It is extremely important for addiction specialists to complete a thorough evaluation especially if symptoms are not apparent to the inpatient or outpatient client.

What Types of Mental Illnesses Accompany Substance Dependency?

While there is no comprehensive list of mental illnesses that someone entering addiction rehabilitation programs may possess, the most common disorders include trauma, PTSD, depression, bi-polar disorder and anxiety.

The goal of addiction rehabilitation programs is to treat both the underlying mental health issue and the substance abuse to ensure that one does not negatively impact the other.

What Are Dual Diagnosis Treatment Models?

While each rehabilitation center or program may take a varied approach, the most common treatment model for dual diagnosis involves the following actions:

  • The client undergoes a psychological evaluation to determine if, in addition to an addiction issue, a mental disorder is apparent. If it is determined that a dual diagnosis exists, a specialized rehabilitation plan at a treatment center is developed.
  • The dual diagnosis treatment plan is developed to address both the addiction and mental disorder. This recovery plan at an addiction treatment center is personalized and private to ensure the client is comfortable and feels safe in the environment.
  • A major part of the client’s plan often includes holistic treatments to address any issues with the mind, body and spirit. These treatments are created to, again, address both the underlying mental health disorder and the addiction. Without treating the mental disorder, treatment centers are setting clients up for failure, which can lead to a relapse. That’s why it’s best to develop treatment plans that work to heal the whole person, providing the client with tools to take steps that lead to long-term sobriety.

What Type of Holistic Treatments Address a Dual Diagnosis?

Commonly dubbed as intense rehabilitation, dual diagnosis treatment centers operate as both inpatient and outpatient addiction facilities. At the core of this treatment is a holistic approach, which strives to create lifestyle changes versus a quick fix. The patient must be committed to the treatment plan and have the will and motivation to dive into practices that improve well-being by getting to know themselves better.

The goal of holistic treatments at addiction rehabilitation centers is to put the client into the driver’s seat to guide and enhance his or her life. The focus is on the whole body instead of just one symptom or disorder. Dual diagnosis treatment allows for the client to take the reins and responsibility of his or her own mind, body and spirit to recover successfully from mental disorders and substance abuse.

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