What if I Suffer from Dual-Diagnosis?

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Calendar icon Last Updated: 09/17/2021

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Dual-diagnosis is a serious issue that must be recognized and treated during rehab. It can be helpful to your recovery to understand that you are suffering from this additional issue and to be aware of how it can be treated as a part of your recovery.

Dual-Diagnosis and Its Treatment

Dual-diagnosis is also called comorbidity or co-occurring disorders. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “The term ‘comorbidity’ describes two or more disorders or illnesses occurring in the same person.” Sometimes, one was caused by the other, but they generally have a relationship where they affect and worsen one another. In the case of addiction, mental disorders are the most common dual-diagnoses associated with this issue.

Because these two disorders generally affect one another and will likely worsen each other as time goes on, they must be treated simultaneously. Without this kind of concurrent care, the mental disorder you are suffering from can help to intensify the symptoms of your addiction or it could undermine your progress in treatment. Therefore, it is very important to find a rehab program that can treat both issues at the same time.

Which Rehab Programs Are Best for Dual-Diagnosis?

Being prepared and understanding your needs is a large part of finding the right option for your dual-diagnosis treatment. In general, though, if you already know that you are suffering from another disorder, especially a mental disorder, in addition to your addiction, inpatient care may be the best option for your needs.

According to a study from the medical journal Psychiatric Quarterly, “Patients with high psychiatric severity… are predicted to have a better outcome in inpatient treatment.” This is because programs that offer 24-hour care and surveillance can often give patients in this severe condition what they require, and they can protect the individual from hurting themselves or anyone else during their recovery. Suffering from a mental disorder and an addiction at the same time can often cause a person to experience severe symptoms, even those that could make them dangerous, and this means you could benefit from a more intensive treatment option.

How Are Co-Occurring Disorders Treated?

As stated above, these issues must be treated at the same time and both as a part of rehab. Otherwise, one’s progress with one issue could be deterred by the untreated problem.

  • Medications can often be used to treat mental disorders associated with addiction. Antidepressants and other mood stabilizers might be helpful with issues like depression, anxiety disorders, etc. These drugs can help to minimize the symptoms of a mental disorder but must not interact poorly with any other medications you may need to reduce your cravings or withdrawal symptoms.
  • Behavioral therapy can also be extremely helpful to those suffering from dual-diagnosis. Cognitive-behavioral therapy, for example, can help to change the way you think about your substance abuse as well as your mental disorder. It can also teach you skills for coping with both issues at the same time.
  • Holistic methods like art therapy, yoga, meditation, and others have long been found to be especially helpful for the treatment of addiction, as well as for those who are suffering from additional issues. These programs can allow individuals who may not be as comfortable with the option of talk therapy to work through their feelings in a way that is easier for them.

Do I Need Treatment for Dual-Diagnosis?

Especially if you are suffering from dual-diagnosis, you will absolutely need professional treatment. It can be tempting to ask why you can’t go through recovery on your own, but this would be a severe mistake. If you are suffering from dual-diagnosis, you are coping with two, severe issues, both of which will make it difficult for you to control your actions. It is important to learn coping skills for both of these problems in order to safely recover and create real change.

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