There are a multitude of afflictions to which people are vulnerable. Some of them are physical in nature, brought on by factors of environment, circumstances, or lifestyle; other illnesses aren’t readily apparent by observing someone physically. These illnesses are more mental and emotional by nature, affecting the functioning of the brain with arguably greater implications that physical diseases. A couple examples of psychological diseases include bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, which are two of of the most well-known psychological diagnoses; however, addiction could also be considered a psychological disorder. After all, it originates in the brain, resulting from structural and functional changes that cause people to compulsively behave in self-destructive ways. On its own, addiction is a very serious diseases, but some individuals who suffer from addiction might find themselves in need of dual-diagnosis treatment.
If you’re unsure of what dual-diagnosis treatment might be, the following will serve as a comprehensive discussion of dual diagnosis and the treatment needed for this phenomenon.
On its own, addiction is an incredibly destructive illness that many people don’t fully understand. Despite our scientific and technological advancements, the disease of addiction remains very enigmatic, requiring the knowledge and techniques of many academic disciplines for its treatment. For the purposes of the present discussion, it’s important to remember that despite seeming to originate in one’s behavior, addiction is actually a chronic, progressive brain diseases.
The human brain is an incredibly complex organ that’s essentially responsible for our very existence. It’s the brain that controls our ability to turn experiences into memory, reminds us to eat, protects us from danger, allows us to communicate, and everything in between. But more than just one’s psychology, the brain also controls and coordinates the countless organs and bodily systems that allow for physical movement, regulate our temperatures and pulses and blood pressures, ensure that we continue to breathe, and other essential functions. Between the psychological duties and the physical control that it wields, the brain is truly the center of human physiology.
However, the brain can also exhibit irregularities. These irregularities can occur randomly as a result of some genetic factor or because of some unpredictable abnormality that occurred during development. Other times, these irregularities are a direct result of our behavior, which is the case with addiction. Since there are so many different ways in which the brain can develop some type of pathology, it’s not uncommon for individuals to develop an addiction after having already been suffering from some other type of mental or emotional illness; alternately, a person who becomes addicted could potentially manifest another mental or emotional illness due to the chemical changes that habitual alcohol or drug use cause to the brain. Whatever the case may be, we’ve come to realize that it’s actually quite common for individuals to suffer from both addiction and some other type of psychological affliction.
When this occurs, it’s referred to as dual diagnosis. The reason it’s called dual diagnosis is actually rather straightforward: it comes from the fact that the individual is suffering from not one, but two independent diagnoses at the same time. Due to this being relatively common, there have been a number of studies to take a look at dual-diagnosis patients, particularly when it comes to the development of dual diagnoses, the psychological afflictions that occur alongside addiction most frequently, and the types of addiction treatment from which dual-diagnosis patients have responded the best. First, let’s take a look at some of the most common mental or emotional disorders that are known to occur alongside addiction.
As we discussed above, addiction bears many resemblances to most mental and emotional disorders because it, too, is a brain disease. In fact, addiction develops after an individual has continued to abuse alcohol and drugs for an extended period of time; his or her substance abuse causes lasting chemical changes that result in the disease of addiction, accompanied by the behavioral hallmarks of addiction such as compulsive substance seeking and consumption, dishonestly, desperation, and so on. However, it’s very common for addiction to develop in individuals who are already suffering from other mental or emotional disorders, referred to as dual diagnosis. But another term that’s frequently used is comorbidity, which refers to the appearance of two disorders simultaneously. Interestingly, there are certain mental disorders that are comorbid with addiction more often than others.
When it comes to rates of mental and emotional disorders, there are much higher instances of psychological afflictions among addicts than in the general population. Some psychological disorders even have substance abuse as a symptom, which is the case with bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, and schizophrenia; in fact, it’s estimated that roughly half of all individuals who suffer from schizophrenia are suffering, have suffered, or will suffer from an alcohol or drug problem. But it’s enlightening to realize that mood disorders like depression and bipolar disorder have the highest rates of comorbidity with addiction. In terms of causality, it’s thought that either these conditions involve similar areas of the brain, the brain changes resulting from one affliction might result in the development of the other, or because the second illness might actually be symptoms associated with the first.
Now that we have a thorough understanding of dual diagnosis and comorbidity and we’ve taken a brief look at some of the most common illnesses that are comorbid with addiction, let’s have a discussion about dual-diagnosis treatment for addiction. As we stated previously, dual diagnosis refers to an individual who suffers from addiction as well as a secondary mental or emotional disorder. The reason why dual diagnosis is so important is because there is usually some type of correlation between the two conditions; if one illness becomes worse, the other is likely to become worse, too. In theory, this would make it extremely difficult for a dual-diagnosis patient to receive treatment for addiction; while the individual might overcome the substance abuse problem over the course of treatment, the fact that he or she would be returning home while still having to deal with symptoms of a mental or emotional disorder would make it extremely unlikely that he or she would be able to sustain his or her newfound sobriety.
Instead, such a person would need dual-diagnosis treatment. In the simplest of terms, dual-diagnosis addiction treatment refers to a type of addiction treatment curriculum in which patients receive treatments for both addiction as well as their comorbid mental or emotional disorders. In other words, dual-diagnosis treatment incorporates treatment for both addiction and the additional, secondary illness.
Like other forms of treatment, dual-diagnosis programs can be both inpatient or outpatient, but the former is usually encouraged since it’s the most effective and provides dual-diagnosis patients with the most care for their needs. Since a dual-diagnosis patient’s addiction is almost always connected to the mental or emotional disorder in some way, dual-diagnosis treatment has two main goals: helping a patient to overcome alcohols or drug addiction and helping the individual to manage the mental or emotional disorder so that the severity of symptoms of that disorder are unlikely to provoke a relapse.
More often than not, treatment with a dual-diagnosis focus consists of psychotherapy and group counseling sessions. If a dual-diagnosis patient is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, the counseling would attempt to identify the root of the individual’s addiction while also helping the individual to cope with the source of his or her trauma. For addicted patients suffering from depression, the counseling would focus on helping the individual to return to a state of emotional balance; in some cases, it might be necessary for the patient to begin taking antidepressant medications, which will prevent the individual from feeling the need to self-medicate.
The journey from substance abuser to addict is unique for everyone who becomes addicted. For this reason, the specific treatments and length of treatment required for a dual-diagnosis patient to get clean. It’s difficult to say how long a person might need to complete a dual-diagnosis treatment program without knowing his or her specific background and substance abuse history; as well, different types of dual-diagnosis treatment — inpatient versus outpatient, short-term versus long-term — will have some level of effect on the amount of time required to complete dual-diagnosis treatment. Generally, a dual-diagnosis program won’t be any shorter than a month, but up to three months is most common. As well, there are long-term programs for dual-diagnosis patients, which last six months or more.
There’s never really a “wrong” time to get help for an addiction; however, there are certain things that you must do to get ready for rehab. For instance, you need to determine the best type of treatment for your needs, which means choosing inpatient or outpatient, holistic or dual-diagnosis, luxury or budget-friendly, and so on. After choosing the type of treatment, you should find a program that offers dual-diagnosis programs that can address all your individual needs. It’s also a good idea to consider your options for payment; if you’re unable to foot the entire cost of dual-diagnosis treatment out-of-pocket, you might consider checking with your health insurance provider to see whether your insurance plan covers addiction treatment. If it does, this may have you in choosing the right program since you’ll want to attend a rehab that is covered by your provider. There are also a number of facilities that offer low-cost programs and flexible payment options. Once these details have been decided, you’re ready to schedule your consultation and intake assessment
The journey from addiction to recovery is different for everyone. As well, every dual-diagnosis patient has his or her unique needs; however, it’s important to be aware that there are many options available to help you or your loved one get sober. For more information about the dual-diagnosis treatment options that are available, call Elevations in Fort Lauderdale at 866-200-3224.