How Do I Know If Dual Diagnosis Treatment Is Right For Me Or My Loved One?

Dual-diagnosis treatment is recommended if you are struggling with a substance use disorder as well as a co-occurring mental health or medical disorder. Although these conditions are typically treated separately, it is essential that they are treatment simultaneously when they occur together. This is because one of them may have an impact on the other.

To ensure that you enjoy the best outcomes in recovery, it is recommended that you receive simultaneous treatment for both your addiction and any other co-occurring disorder that you are also struggling with.

Through a dual-diagnosis treatment program, you will be able to address all these issues individually while also ensuring that the disorders are managed at the same time so that they do not influence your long term recovery and sobriety.

For instance, such a program will manage your substance abuse and addiction by taking you through an intensive medically supervised detox program. This way, it will treat your physical dependence and manage your withdrawal symptoms and drug craving. After that, you will be provided with therapy and counseling services to manage your psychological, behavioral, and emotional dependence on drugs and alcohol.

At the same time, however, the program will offer you certain therapy and medical services to manage your co-occurring mental health or medical disorder so that these disorders to not affect your outcomes in recovery from addiction.

Understanding Dual-Diagnosis Treatment

There are certain medical and mental health disorders that could influence the start and progression of your substance abuse and addiction. While struggling with both of these conditions - that is mental or medical illness and addiction - you could be said to be living with co-occurring or dual diagnosis disorders.

Some of the psychological issues that might accompany your substance use disorder include but are not limited to:

  • ADHD, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
  • Anxiety disorders like generalized anxiety disorder
  • Borderline personality disorder
  • Mood disorders, such as major depression and bipolar disorder
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Trauma

If you have been living with any of these mental health disorders, there is a high probability that you may start abusing alcohol and drugs to deal with the issues that you are struggling with.

These substances could potentially numb the psychological and emotional distress that you are going through. However, they will only do so temporarily without eliminating the mental health condition that you have.

In the process of self-medication, you may end up struggling with a new disorder - a substance or alcohol use disorder. This means that you will find yourself living with both addiction and the original mental health condition.

On the other hand, if you start abusing drugs and alcohol, there is a high risk that these substances could affect the functioning and chemical makeup of your brain. In the process, you may develop a co-occurring mental health disorder.

Another type of co-occurring disorder would be a medical condition. There are many such conditions that happen in the course of substance abuse and addiction. For instance, if you take these drugs intravenously, you may contract communicable diseases like hepatitis and HIV. This is particularly true if you use shared needles that someone else had used when they were infected.

Alternatively, you may develop these medical disorders due to the actions you engage in as a result of being intoxicated on drugs or alcohol. for instance, you may take part in unprotected sexual intercourse because you are too intoxicated to realize what is happening. This could lead to your contracting disorders like HIV and hepatitis.

The goal of a dual-diagnosis treatment program, to this end, would be to ensure that all the disorders that you have bene diagnosed with are properly diagnosed and treated so that they do not affect or exacerbate each other.

The Importance of Dual-Diagnosis Treatment

As we mentioned earlier, the goal of dual-diagnosis treatment is to address both co-occurring mental health and medical disorders as well as manage and help you overcome your substance use disorder or addiction.

When you first enroll in such a program, you will be provided with a comprehensive evaluation and assessment at the very start of your treatment. this way, the treatment professionals working for the program will be able to uncover every disorder that you have been struggling with.

Without this initial evaluation being done correctly, there is a high risk that you may not end up receiving the right type of care that you need to ensure that you have the best chances of long term recovery.

Further, dual-diagnosis treatment programs will provide you with a highly individualized and personalized treatment plan. Where necessary, they may even refer you to other relevant services that you need to continue benefiting both during and after your treatment.

If you leave issues such as anxiety, depression, and trauma untreated, there is a high risk that you could relapse back to substance abuse and addiction. In the same way, if you are living with co-occurring disorders and only your addiction is tackled, you may go back home still feeling that you have to continue self-medicating, which could eventually cause you to start struggling with addiction again.

Types of Dual-Diagnosis Treatment

There are different ways to treat and manage a dual diagnosis. However, most research studies recommended that you go through dual-diagnosis addiction treatment in an inpatient drug and alcohol rehabilitation program. Read on to find out more:

1. Inpatient Dual Diagnosis Treatment Programs

If you have been diagnosed with a severe substance use disorder but are also struggling with other co-occurring disorders, it is highly recommended that you receive treatment and management services from an inpatient center.

In such a program, you will get to live at the recovery facility during the duration of your time in treatment. this way, you will be able to receive emotional and medical support and care from a treatment team that works around the clock.

Most inpatient dual-diagnosis treatment programs last anywhere from 30 days to 90 days. However, many of them will last much longer especially because you might not be able to recover fully within 90 days or 3 months.

The advantage with this form of treatment is that you will not be distracted in your recovery journey. This effectively means that you will be in a highly controlled environment away from the stresses, distractions, and issues that you have to deal with in your everyday life.

As a result, you may have a higher chance of achieving full recovery both from your addiction as well as your co-occurring medical and mental health disorders in an inpatient dual-diagnosis treatment program.

2. Outpatient Dual Diagnosis Treatment Programs

However, you also have the choice of going for outpatient drug rehab while also seeking help for your co-occurring medical and mental health disorders. In an outpatient program, you do not have to live at the recovery center. Instead, you can check into the center a few times every week for several hours each time.

This effectively means that you will be able to go back home and to your regular daily schedule once you have completed your recovery and treatment sessions. As a result, you could even get the opportunity to continue working, attending school, and meeting your other professional and social obligations and responsibilities.

Outpatient treatment is ideal because you could stay in your own home or in a sober living facility before attending treatment sessions in the evening or during the day. This will allow you to maintain your normal daily schedule.

However, due to its nature, most outpatient programs last anywhere between 90 days and 1 year, while some of them last longer than that to ensure that you fully recover from your substance abuse and co-occurring mental health and medical disorders.

This form of recovery is ideal if you have a co-occurring disorder but your substance abuse and addiction are not severe enough to warrant inpatient addiction treatment. since you will be spending anywhere between 10 and 12 hours every week at the recovery center, you may be able to manage both your addiction and the co-occurring disorder.

As you can see, outpatient dual-diagnosis treatment is far less restrictive than inpatient treatment. however, inpatient treatment might be the right way for you to get help for all the disorders that you were diagnosed with.

That said, both inpatient and outpatient dual-diagnosis recovery programs offer similar or related treatment and therapy services, including but not limited to:

  • 12 step and non-12 step support group meetings, such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous
  • Alternative therapies, including yoga, massage therapy, meditation, art therapy, equine therapy, traditional Chinese medicine, and Ayurvedic medicine
  • Behavioral therapies, such as motivational interviewing and cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Counseling
  • Education on both drug and alcohol addiction and mental health
  • Family therapy and treatment
  • Group therapy
  • Individual therapy
  • Medical drug and alcohol detox

Getting Help

If you have been struggling with substance use disorders and other co-occurring medical and mental health disorders, it is highly recommended that you seek help from a professionally qualified and accredited dual-diagnosis treatment center to increase your chances of achieving full recovery from all the conditions that you were diagnosed with.