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Dual Diagnosis Program

Over the past 20 years, our understanding of how mental health issues affect drug addiction and alcoholism has changed. In the past, these conditions were treated separately and as such many people who suffered from co-existing conditions were unable to find the recovery they sought. This was usually not for lack of trying on their part but was the result of their addiction being treated without their underlying mental health issues being treated.

What this caused was a scenario where abstinence could be maintained for brief periods of time, but since there were still underlying conditions present, they would eventually cause the person to revert back to substance abuse in order to self-medicate any exacerbating problems.

To this same regard, if a person was treated for their mental health issues but not their addictions, then usually their addictions continued to grow unimpeded which in time created further issues down the road.

What we have found is that for a person suffering from both a mental health issue and an addiction issue, both conditions must be treated simultaneously, in order for sustained, healthy recovery to occur.

We here at Elevations Health Austin Dual-Diagnosis Program understand this and as such have adopted our programs in order to incorporate these advances in treatment. Our Austin Dual-Diagnosis Program operates under the pretense that in order for our clients to get the best possible chance at recovery, they must first be made aware of any underlying conditions they have, and then those conditions must be treated in conjunction with their addiction.

To attempt to treat addiction within a vacuum, void of any conditional elements that may be worsening it, usually only leads to a delayed relapse and so our Austin Dual-Diagnosis Program is positioned in such a way in order to help people suffering from any and all underlying conditions.

What Is a Dual Diagnosis?

Dual diagnoses, like the ones we treat at our Austin Dual-Diagnosis program, are diagnoses where a person has two coexisting conditions. In this particular case, one condition is addiction or alcoholism and the second is some sort of underlying mental-health condition. Not all mental-health conditions are suffered alone, and it is possible for a person to have an addiction and several other mental health concerns existing at the same time. When a person has a few diagnoses besides their addiction, this still falls under the scope of dual diagnosis.

Dual-diagnosis therapies are relatively new. They were first initiated in the 1990s, and they came about because of the realization that those who suffered from a mental health condition appeared to have higher recidivism back into substance abuse when their conditions were not addressed. Before this time, treatment for these separate conditions were performed in isolation from each other and a substance abuse treatment center would only focus on addiction or alcoholism, completely ignoring the mental health side of things.

Before the time when dual-diagnosis became the preferred method of treating those with coexisting conditions, it was believed by many clinicians that having sequential treatment, meaning treatment that took place one after the other, was the correct way of going about dealing with a dual-diagnosis. This however proved to be ineffective and when it became clear just how much a mental health condition could affect an addiction, the current dual-diagnosis approach was born.

There are those who only suffer from addiction and do not have any underlying conditions that aided in its development and for people of this type, a typical substance abuse treatment program is sufficient. But for those who also have depression, anxiety, bi-polar disorder, or any of the numerous mental health conditions that coexist with addiction, regular treatment is not enough.

Many of the people who suffer from co-existing conditions are not even aware that they have a separate mental health concern and they are unaware that part of the reason for their addiction’s existence is because of the need to self-medicate. They may have found at one point in time that abusing drugs or alcohol allowed them to cope with their lives easier and not understanding that their baseline for living was skewed by a mental health issue, they believed that drugs and alcohol were the only answer to their problem.

Without addressing the underlying conditions, people of this type will likely relapse back into addiction, because they do not have the necessary coping mechanism and or medication in order to deal with their co-existing conditions.  They may be able to get sober for a little while, but usually with time, unable to deal with their depression or anxiety, they pick up again in order to ease the pain or tension.

How Can You Find Out If You Have A Dual-Diagnosis?

Getting a dual-diagnosis can sometimes be challenging because you need to meet the criteria for a mental health disorder as well as being recognized as someone struggling with addiction. Your mental-health disorder needs to be listed in the current version of The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders for it to be classified and recognized for the purposes of treatment. The DSM offers the primary guidelines for how to treat patients with mental-health disorders.

Any qualified professional can help diagnose you. That could be a therapist, psychologist, physician, or psychiatrist. This diagnosis can be a major relief to some patients, particularly those who have struggled with an unknown illness for a long period of time.

If you’ve struggled with hallucinations, suicidal thoughts, flashbacks to traumatic events, severe mood swings, and other concerns, it’s important that you speak to a medical professional, so you can get the right diagnosis. You may need to be evaluated by an addiction specialist and mental health professional to get the diagnosis, but once it’s done, you’ll be able to get the right treatment to help you with both conditions simultaneously.

Sometimes the addiction masks the symptoms of the co-existing condition and so there are certain times when it will not be apparent that there is more to the problem than just addiction, until after the person has been sober for a little while. This is one of the great benefits of attending a dual-diagnosis program because since you are in a safe and drug-free environment, you will be able to get the help you need if and when any co-existing condition is made apparent.

Symptoms of Mental-Health Disorders

The symptoms that correlate with a mental-health disorder are as numerous as the disorders themselves. Some conditions have overlapping symptoms and a diagnosis can be difficult, while others make themselves apparent through their symptoms.

While not a complete list by any means, below is a list of common symptoms of people who may have a mental-health disorder:

  •   Talking about being sad, hopeless, or worthless on a regular basis
  •   Struggling to keep a job
  •   Having delusions
  •   Suffering hallucinations or other sensory experiences
  •   Performing rituals
  •   Having mood swings
  •   Deliberately withdrawing from social situations and relationships
  •   Using drugs, alcohol, or exhibiting compulsive behaviors that could cause harm but are useful in managing moods or coping under stress.
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What Is Dual-Diagnosis Treatment?

Dual-diagnosis treatments treat the patient for all the coexisting disorders or diseases he or she has, including addiction and any mental health conditions.There are sometimes when a person also has other physical health problems and during the course of a dual-diagnosis treatment, they will be address as well.

One of the first steps in dual-diagnosis is getting the proper diagnosis for the person. This is usually done during the first couple of days or weeks of treatment, where the person will meet with psychiatrists and other trained professionals in order to see if there is an underlying condition besides addiction.

If it is found that there is a dual-diagnosis, then they will be given the proper medication, if necessary, and a greater level of psychotherapy, in order to help address the problem.

This is all done while the person continues to participate in the regular substance abuse programming and having this heightened level of care can often times make a world of difference for people who have suffered from an addiction and a mental health concern for years.

Just because a person has a dual-diagnosis does not meant that getting help for their addiction has to be impossible. In fact when it is properly addressed they should have the same chances at recovery as a person who only suffers from an addiction.

Seeking a Dual-Diagnosis Program That Is Right For You

If you think that you have a problem with drugs or alcohol and believe that you may have an underlying mental or physical health condition that is making it worse, then call the professionals at Elevations Health Austin today, at 1-866-200-3224. Our trained staff is acutely aware of the needs of a person who has a dual-diagnosis and they can help you through the recovery process, giving you the tools you need in order to discover and maintain a life of recovery. You no longer have suffer alone in your addiction or your mental health concerns, so give us a call today.