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Dual Diagnosis

dual diagnosis

Before the 1990s, the correlation between substance abuse and mental health disorders was not recognized by treatment centers. In order for patients to get help for a mental health problem, they first had to manage their addiction. Today, treatment centers treat both conditions simultaneously in order to help effectively kick the individual's addiction. This process is known as dual diagnosis.

A major cause of addiction is an underlying mental health issue. Oftentimes, an individual suffering from a mental health disorder will self-medicate by using drugs or alcohol to rid themselves of any negative feelings or stress, leading them to a life of addiction. Others who are unaware of their mental health issue turn to substance abuse because it is the only thing that helps them to feel 'normal'. In more recent years, however, patients who are prescribed medication for a mental health illness are becoming addicted to their medication.

No matter the reason, it is important that those suffering these co-occurring disorders get the proper help and effective treatment that they need. Common mood disorders that are associated with substance abuse are listed below:

It is extremely important that those suffering from co-occurring disorders spend the proper amount of time in treatment in order to get better. Every addict develops a form of mental dependency on their substance of choice, but those also suffering from a mental health issue typically develop an even deeper dependency. Not only can they develop a stronger dependency, but the substance they use may increase the symptoms of their disorder. Patients in a dual diagnosis program go through the same program as other patients, but with a higher emphasis on their mental health issues. In order to receive this treatment, patients must meet the criteria defined by the American Psychiatric Association.

The first step in dual diagnosis is to assess the psychiatric health of the individual to identify what he or she may be suffering from. Depending on the severity and the illness, medication may be prescribed at this time. A rehab program will be integrated to begin working on the individual's drug or alcohol addiction. Programs, such as counseling, therapy, or meditation, may be administered to help the patient along with their success in rehab. The final phase of dual diagnosis includes behavioral modification therapy to help the individual learn to deal with their mental illness without the use of a substance and aid them in getting reacquainted with a life that is free of addiction. Patients work together with medical professionals to understand their addiction, and their mental health issue, and come up with a strategy to healthily and effectively manager with their mental disorder after life in treatment.

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