In the past, those struggling with both a substance use disorder and a mental health condition were often directed by their healthcare providers to get sober first before attempting to address any mental health issues.
While at the time, that was a valid request based on the research available, today it is much different. Studies have shown just how connected substance use disorders and mental health conditions are, prompting healthcare providers to now address both conditions simultaneously.
Both the symptoms of a substance use disorder and mental health condition can worsen the longer one puts off treatment. For example, symptoms such as irritability can cause someone to become aggressive and violent. Additionally, continuing to abuse drugs or alcohol can lead to an overdose.
Increased risk for additional
mental health problems
It is not uncommon for substance abuse to induce an additional mental health condition, which can complicate an already complex situation. Continued substance abuse, regardless of the kind of substance, can lead to the development of depression and/or anxiety disorders. Additionally, untreated mental disorders like generalized anxiety disorders can develop into more serious disorders, such as panic disorder or obsessive-compulsive disorder. The sooner someone gets treatment, the less likely these issues can develop.
Physical and psychological
Continued substance abuse impacts all areas of the body, including the brain and vital organs. Depending on what substance someone is abusing, they can suffer vital organ failure, seizures, brain damage, and physical injuries like broken bones, for example. Despite this, finding treatment as quickly as possible can greatly reduce the risk of experiencing physical and psychological damage.
The most important step to take when treating a dual diagnosis is to ensure that all addictive, mind-altering substances are cleared from one’s system. This can be done through professional detox services. At this time, staff will ensure that the individual is stabilized enough to begin therapeutic care to address their mental health status.
Therapy serves as the core of treatment for both mental health conditions and substance use disorders. When it comes to treating a dual diagnosis with therapy, the ones that are most commonly utilized include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), individual psychotherapy, and group counseling.
Each individual has their own needs when being treated for a dual diagnosis. These needs might demand prescription medication for either or both the substance use disorder and the mental health condition. There are specific medications designed to help with withdrawal symptoms and cravings for those addicted to certain substances. In addition, medications can help treat mental health conditions. When prescribed one or both, individuals who can benefit from their use can begin healing.
Following up with good self-care after receiving treatment for a dual diagnosis is vital. This can include attending support groups for the specific type of mental illness one is experiencing. Another option is traditional 12-Step groups to address addiction and/or alcoholism.
Prescribed Medications With Knowledge
Of The Addiction History
If someone is in dual diagnosis treatment, they will be prescribed some type of medication to help address either their substance use disorder or their mental health condition. Someone may even receive medications for both. The greatest benefit here is healthcare providers know the extent of the history of substance abuse. This allows them to choose medications that are non-habit forming and will work best with the goals someone is attempting to achieve.
With every dual diagnosis comes symptoms that can be difficult to manage. When a person is receiving professional dual diagnosis treatment, a team of experts can help identify what types of skillsthey can benefit most from having in their arsenal.
Someone will spend time in dual diagnosis treatment figuring out what triggers their desire to abuse drugs or alcohol. Secondly, someone will learn what triggers their mental health condition to flare up. Identifying triggers is a priceless benefit. In fact, it can allow one to plans for what to do when triggered rather than adopt negative self-medicating behaviors.
Treating Both Conditions
It is absolutely vital that both substance use disorders and mental health conditions are treated at the same time. A dual-diagnosis treatment program will use medical and mental health professionals who will work to develop and maintain a customized treatment plan. This results in treating one part of their dual diagnosis is ineffective and will only lead to further challenges.