It’s easy to see how a person with a dual diagnosis may feel overwhelmed by their condition. A psychiatric disorder is hard enough to deal with on its own. The same thing can be said about a substance use disorder. We can only imagine what it is like to have both of the conditions at the same time. And yet, dual diagnosis is more common than you might think.

Self-medication is common among those who suffer from mental illnesses because they use drugs to try and cope with the symptoms of their mental health condition. This sometimes leads to an addiction. On the other hand, those who have an addiction may develop various mental disorders as a result of their substance use. We will explore the relationship between addiction and mental health later on.

Here we will tackle the definition of dual diagnosis, how treatment works for this condition and how you can choose the right treatment facility for yourself or your loved one. TRUST SoCal, for example, is one of the best dual diagnosis treatment centers out there. They can help patients who are struggling with a substance abuse problem and co-occurring mental health disorders.


What is Dual Diagnosis?

A dual diagnosis is when a person who has a substance use disorder also has a co-occurring mental health condition. The co-occurring disorder may be something like generalized anxiety disorders, depression, bipolar disorder, dissociative identity disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, etc.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reports that between 7 and 9 million people in the US struggle with a dual diagnosis during any given year.

It is not easy to treat an addicted individual with co-occurring disorders, especially severe mental illnesses. These two conditions tend to affect one another, worsening each other’s symptoms. Addiction on its own is already difficult enough to deal with. Having co-occurring mental health problems makes the situation even more complex.

Treating patients with dual diagnosis is difficult, but there are plenty of rehab centers that specialize in this condition. Their medical staff is trained specifically to handle such complications, even if the patient currently feels overwhelmed. It goes without saying that you can’t solve one problem without addressing the other. The goal of dual diagnosis treatment is to tackle both problems simultaneously.

Knowing everything about dual diagnosis can help you make an informed decision when choosing from the available treatment programs and rehab facilities out there. When in doubt, go to TRUST SoCal for more information on dual diagnosis treatment plans.


Addiction and Mental Health

When it comes to dual diagnoses, a lot of people wonder which comes first: the substance abuse or the mental illness? The answer is not the same for everybody. And that is because mental illness and substance use disorders have a complicated relationship.

About half of all people who are dealing with a mental health condition will develop a problem with substance abuse later in life. It does not guarantee that they will become addicted, but the risk for them is higher. They are at greater risk of developing drug dependency and addiction because of their continued exposure to these substances, especially if they are self-medicating for their condition. Alcohol use disorder is common among those with mental health issues because people think drinking alcohol will help them. While it can in fact help you relax for a while, it is not a good solution for the long term. Others turn to illicit drug use to cope with their mental health conditions.

At the same time, mental health conditions are sometimes a result of continued substance abuse. Those with a substance use disorder may develop conditions like anxiety and depression. Some people fall into depression due to their inability to control their drug intake.

This creates an unhealthy cycle that is hard to beat without the assistance of addiction professionals and specialists. Substance use disorder can worsen the symptoms of depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues. But it can also happen the other way around.

However, it is also worth considering the fact that mental health conditions often stem from a complex interplay of genetic and environmental factors. It is possible that they are not even directly caused by drug and alcohol use disorder at all, and this is definitely true in some cases.

Drug or alcohol use can increase your risk of developing such conditions if you are already exposed to such risk factors, but it does not always directly cause the problem.

People with a dual diagnosis can feel hopeless because of all the symptoms that they are experiencing all at once. But dual diagnosis centers like TRUST SoCal can help patients make sense of it all. They can create personalized treatment plans based on the client’s current situation. Treatment programs for dual diagnosis exist, and they are specifically designed to address these complex conditions.


How to Recognize a Dual Diagnosis

If you or someone you love is dealing with a similarly difficult situation, you may want to find out if it is a dual diagnosis or not.  Recognizing a dual diagnosis is the first step towards making a safe, long-term recovery.

The thing about dual diagnosis is that it can be difficult to identify most of the time. It can be tricky to identify what might be a mental illness and what might be a drug or alcohol use disorder. Different mental health conditions can have different symptoms, the same way different drugs can have different effects. It can also be difficult to recognize a full-blown addiction from problematic drug use; or alcohol abuse from binge drinking.

Still, you can look for a few warning signs and common risk factors to see if someone has a co-occurring disorder.

If someone uses drugs or alcohol to cope with their unpleasant feelings or memories, they may have a dual diagnosis. Similarly, they may use these substances to deal with pain, stress, and mood changes. Some people use it to perform better, to handle unfamiliar situations, or to stay focused on their tasks.

Finding that connection between substance use disorder and your mental health is an important step towards recognizing a dual diagnosis. Some people feel depressed after they drink. Meanwhile some people drink whenever they feel anxious or stressed. They may feel down whenever they are sober.

A family history of substance use disorder may also be an indication because addiction has a genetic factor. Keep in mind that addiction is characterized by the compulsive need to take drugs or drink alcohol, plus the inability to control your intake.

Drug abuse is a very common problem, and a lot of people suffer from various mental health conditions, so it’s no surprise that dual diagnosis is so common. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, around 50% of people with severe mental illness are also affected by substance use disorders. They reported that 37% of alcohol users and 53% of drug users have at least one serious mental health problem.

Of course, the best way to know for sure is to visit a rehab facility and get yourself diagnosed. The complex nature of dual diagnosis demands the expertise of trained medical professionals and a complete treatment team. Treating the mental disorder and the addiction simultaneously through a complete treatment program is necessary.


Common Mental Health Disorders Treated in Dual Diagnosis

Some of the most common co-occurring mental health conditions treated in dual diagnosis rehab are generalized anxiety disorder, depression, and bipolar disorder. Other patients may suffer from borderline personality disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, dissociative identity disorder, etc.

Depression is one of the most common co-occurring disorders. Contrary to popular belief, depression is not just feeling sad, although that is one of the symptoms of it. A depressed individual may feel hopeless or helpless. They may lose interest in things they used to enjoy or begin to neglect their responsibilities.

Depressed individuals generally struggle to experience any form of pleasure. Aside from these psychiatric symptoms, the person may also display changes in their appetite, weight, energy levels, and sleeping habits. They may also experience feelings of worthlessness, guilt, and anger.

Generalized anxiety disorder, or anxiety, is characterized by excessive tension and worry. People with anxiety may feel irritable, jumpy, or “on edge”. They may experience symptoms like nausea, restlessness, shortness of breath, trembling, dizziness, headaches, insomnia, muscle tension, and difficulty concentrating.

Another common co-occurring mental illness is bipolar disorder. Sign and symptoms of mania in bipolar disorder include hyperactivity, impaired judgment, impulsivity, rapid speech, racing thoughts, anger, increased energy, decreased need for sleep, irritability, feelings of euphoria, and unrealistic, grandiose beliefs.

Aside from these three, other mental health problems that are sometimes treated in dual diagnosis rehab are PTSD, borderline personality disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, schizophrenia, and dissociative identity disorder.


How Does Dual Diagnosis Treatment Work for Mental Illness?

When mental disorders occur alongside addiction, a complete mental health treatment program is often necessary to help the patient recover. There are plenty of rehab programs and treatment centers out there with different approaches to addiction, but dual diagnosis centers specialize in treating mental health and substance abuse simultaneously.

These mental health clinics understand the relationship between substance use and severe mental illness. They understand that these co-occurring disorders need to be addressed at the same time to provide patients the best chances of regaining their sobriety and maintaining it for the long term. So what can you expect when you go to a dual diagnosis treatment center?

There are individual therapy sessions, group therapy sessions, and even family therapy sessions to address every aspect of the person’s condition. Psychotherapy, also known as talk therapy, can go a long way in terms of figuring out the root causes of addictive behavior and the co-occurring mental disorders. During therapy, patients can learn to recognize their triggers and create a plan of action for when they encounter those people or situations in the real world.

Different types of psychotherapy include: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavior Therapy, and exposure therapy.

Licensed medical professionals, counselors, and therapists will teach dual diagnosis patients healthy coping mechanisms that can help them regain and maintain their sobriety. The goal of rehab is not just to get the person sober again, but to teach them how to manage their condition and achieve life-long sobriety.

Treating the person’s mental health condition and addiction can give them the best chances of avoiding relapse. While relapsing is a common occurrence for people in recovery, it should not deter you from pursuing sobriety. It is just another obstacle in the addiction treatment journey. It does not indicate failure or the inability to recover.

Support groups are another important aspect of treatment, because it gives people the reassurance that they are not alone in this struggle. Group therapy sessions are great because they teach patients how to support one another by sharing experiences and learning from one another. They can receive support from people who understand exactly what they have been going through.

Medically-assisted detox is done during or before behavioral therapy. Detox eliminates the harmful substances within the patient’s body by gradually lowering their intake. In a dual diagnosis treatment center, patients can get round the clock care from the medical staff who will ensure their safety. They may administer medications to help keep cravings and withdrawal symptoms under control.

With fewer symptoms to worry about, patients can put more focus on the proper coping mechanisms and healthy habits they are learning in treatment.

Keep in mind that withdrawal symptoms are to be expected, especially if someone has been abusing drugs and alcohol for a long time. If they have developed drug or alcohol dependence, this withdrawal stage can be very uncomfortable or even painful. This is why you should not quit cold turkey. It is better to receive professional help and have them guide you through this difficult stage of the journey.

Due to the complexity of addiction treatment, especially one that is a dual diagnosis, the treatment team will create an individualized treatment plan. Everybody is different, which is why people will suffer from addiction and mental health disorders in different ways. They will experience different symptoms, different levels of severity, and different triggers.

The treatment plan will be based on the patient’s symptoms, as well as the mental health condition they are suffering from. It will also be based on other factors such as the patient’s family history, career, environment, age, etc.


How to Choose a Dual Diagnosis Treatment Facility

There are many factors to consider when choosing a treatment facility, and it is especially important to weigh your options if the person has a dual diagnosis. The good news is that you can quickly narrow down your choices by looking for rehab facilities that specialize in dual diagnosis and treating co-occurring disorders.

Check if the treatment center is licensed to treat dual diagnosis. Many treatment facilities advertise that they treat dual diagnosis but are actually not licensed for this. Next, you want to look at their track record and whether the staff members are trained and licensed.

Another important factor to look into is location. Depending on the patient’s condition, they may want to stay in a nearby treatment center or far away from their usual distractions.

From here, it’s all a matter of choosing a treatment facility based on their amenities and the programs they offer for the treatment of co-occurring disorders like mental disorder and substance abuse. Find out how long these programs are and how much time the patient is going to spend in rehab. Remember that there are inpatient and outpatient options for dual diagnosis treatment.

Finally, learn about payment options and whether or not the facility accepts your insurance.


Why Choose TRUST SoCal for Dual Diagnosis

TRUST SoCal provides high quality behavioral health services. This addiction treatment center recognizes the need for more mental health services across the country, which is why they have dedicated their rehab approach to mitigating these issues with the use of intensive treatment.

TRUST SoCal believes in highly personalized treatment that addresses a client’s specific addiction treatment needs. What makes TRUST SoCal different is their evidence-based practices, coordination of care, true discharge planning, and feedback-informed treatment.

TRUST SoCal also follows the eight dimensions of wellness: emotional, environmental, financial, intellectual, occupational, physical, and social. This allows them to address most concerns that affect a person’s ability to recover from their addiction.

Call TRUST SoCal today and learn more about addiction treatment in Santa Ana, California.

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