Dual diagnosis, sometimes referred to as co-occurring disorders, is when a person is diagnosed with an addiction problem along with another mental illness such as anxiety, depression, or bipolar disorder. Although not everyone with a drug or alcohol addiction has this type of condition, many people already have or develop a co-existing mental problem alongside with the drug or alcohol addiction. People who have problems with substance abuse with an underlying mental illness either have the illness because it:
- Resulted from their substance abuse, or
- Existed before their addiction began
Dual diagnosis treatment is designed specifically to help people deal with both their substance abuse problem and mental health disorder. Often times, drug or alcohol abusers initially seek treatment only for their substance abuse problem but along the way, it is discovered that they have a co-occurring mental illness. The two problems are usually closely related which is why they are often unaware that they are suffering from dual diagnosis.
Complex processes are sometimes associated in treating a dual diagnosis. However there are treatment centers that specialize in resolving the symptoms of both addiction and mental illness. Patients may participate in an outpatient, or residential treatment dual diagnosis program. The following are general guidelines for dual diagnosis treatment that may vary slightly between rehab centers.
- Analysis Process. A health care professional will initially analyze the current symptoms and history before dual diagnosis treatment begins. This is done in order to determine the type of mental disorder present. The patient will then be prescribed with specific medications to treat the symptoms of the mental disorder. Medication may include antidepressants for mental disorder like depression.
- Isolating Addiction from the Other Illness. It is important to ensure that specific symptoms of addiction and other mental illnesses are each treated effectively even though dual diagnosis treatment focuses on simultaneous treatment of addiction and mental illness. All disorders that are co-occurring with addiction must be diagnosed properly.
- The patient will participate in variety of therapies during the dual diagnosis treatment. It is important to target specific symptoms. The patient will be able to work towards positive behaviors that will replace the negative ones. Therapies in general, work on treating both addiction and other mental disorders. In this manner, health care professionals treat two problems in a single activity.
The best option to look for if you are struggling with both addiction and a mental illness is a dual diagnosis treatment so that you can treat both problems effectively.