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Union Dual Diagnosis

When someone with a drug or alcohol addiction is also diagnosed with a mental illness, it’s known as a dual diagnosis. A dual diagnosis, also known as a co-occurring disorder, requires separate treatments for the addiction and the mental condition, but the treatments should ideally be integrated for the best possible chances of long-term recovery.

Dual diagnosis treatment is complex and requires professional help in a drug treatment center. To learn more about the therapy options available, call Union Drug Rehab at (908) 329-2286.

How Common is Dual Diagnosis?

Dual diagnosis is far more common than once thought. Recent studies have found that around half of those who have a serious mental illness are also addicted to drugs or alcohol, and half of those who have a drug addiction and a third of those with an addiction to alcohol also have a mental illness.

The reasons for this high prevalence of co-occurring disorders include the fact that many people with a mental illness use drugs or alcohol to self-medicate, and on top of that, drugs and alcohol almost always make a mental illness worse. Additionally, drugs and alcohol can cause the onset of a mental illness that didn’t previously exist.

Types of Mental Conditions Associated with Co-Occurring Disorders

While any type of mental illness can accompany a drug or alcohol addiction, some are more commonly associated with substance abuse and dependence than others.

  • Anxiety disorders are characterized by feelings of irrational fears and intense distress or unrest. People with anxiety disorders may use drugs or alcohol to alleviate the intensely unsettling feelings associated with this illness.
  • Depression is marked by feelings of self-hatred, hopelessness, and guilt. People with depression may use drugs or alcohol to improve their mood or numb the negative emotions that accompany depression.
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is characterized by obsessive thoughts that lead to compulsive, repetitive, or ritualistic behaviors. People who suffer from OCD may use drugs or alcohol to quiet the intrusive thoughts and alleviate the intensity of the compulsive behaviors.
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is caused by being the victim of or witnessing a traumatic event. PTSD can set in weeks, months, or even years after the event and is characterized by emotional instability, insomnia, nightmares, and flashbacks. People with PTSD may use drugs or alcohol to help them sleep, suppress nightmares, or “forget” the event.
  • Eating disorders like anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating often result from a skewed body image, low self-esteem, or self-hatred and are characterized by a self-destructive relationship with exercise and food. People with eating disorders may use drugs or alcohol to suppress the appetite or to feel better about themselves.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment Methods

Seeking treatment for co-occurring disorders through a dual diagnosis treatment center is critical for getting the best possible treatment for each illness. Centers that specialize in this type of diagnosis are highly experienced and knowledgeable concerning best practices for treating each condition.

Treating each illness is a meaningful collaboration among physicians and mental health professionals on both treatment teams, and the treatment for one illness is administered with the other illness in mind.

Three types of therapy are used to treat each illness in a co-occurring disorder:

  • Pharmacotherapy is the administering of medications to control the symptoms of the mental illness and is essential for restoring normal brain function and reducing the symptoms of the mental condition.
  • Psychotherapy is a term for various types of talk therapy, which help patients gain insight and self-awareness surrounding each condition. Cognitive-behavioral therapy, moral reconation therapy, and motivational interviewing are examples of psychotherapies commonly used in dual diagnosis treatment.
  • Behavioral management helps patients replace self-destructive behaviors with those that are healthy through developing intrinsic and extrinsic motivation for change and becoming aware of how thoughts and attitudes affect behaviors.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment Aftercare

Once treatment is complete, patients are provided with an individualized aftercare plan that eases the transition from rehab back home and helps prevent lapses, which can lead to a relapse of the addiction.

The typical aftercare plan will include continued individual, group, and family therapy, participation in community recovery groups, ongoing evaluations of the mental illness and assessments of the medications used to treat them, and regular check-ins with a case worker who monitors the plan and revises it according to new or changing needs.

Other components of the aftercare plan may include vocational rehab, help with finding safe housing, or a short-term or long-term stay at a sober living facility.

Learn about the newest dual diagnosis treatment and aftercare plans when you call Union Drug Rehab at (908) 329-2286.

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