What Is Dual Diagnosis and How Does It Impact Rehab?

Dealing with a drug or alcohol addiction is not an easy experience. It can be even more complicated if you’re struggling with a mental health problem such as depression or anxiety. 

The term ‘dual diagnosis’ is used to refer to such scenarios. 

By definition, dual diagnosis in drug rehab happens when a drug addict also happens to have a mental illness or behavioral disorder. While these conditions are often treated individually, when diagnosed in the same person, they can have noticeable effects on one another. 

In 2018, a report by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) found that over 9 million adult Americans concurrently suffered from substance abuse disorder and mental illness. 

As common as it may seem, a co-occurring disorder might be very hard to diagnose and even harder to treat. It needs complex, specialized care to comprehensively address the two conditions. 

Below is a detailed guide on the link between substance use disorder and mental illness, and how dual diagnosis affects a person’s rehabilitation. Check us out at The Edge Treatment and let us assist you back to a healthy life.

The Connection Between Mental Health and Drug Abuse 

Each person with a dual diagnosis disorder has unique symptoms that may interfere with their capacity to commit to their responsibilities at school, work, or at home. As highlighted above, the concurrent disorders affect each other which only makes the situation even more complicated.  

When a substance abuse problem is left untreated, the mental health issue often gets worse. When substance abuse increases, the severity of existing mental health issues often increases as well. 

In certain cases, mental illness is the underlying cause of a substance abuse disorder. This makes it crucial that you do not ignore the symptoms of a behavioral disorder when it comes to a person’s long-term addiction recovery plan. 

Examples of behavioral and mental health disorders that commonly present themselves through addiction include anorexia, insomnia, depression, anxiety, BPD (borderline personality disorder), and PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).  

What Develops First; Mental Illness or Substance Abuse?

It’s hard to determine which occurs first between substance use and mental illness. Factors such as difficulties at home, school, or in the workplace can increase the risk of someone developing a substance use disorder or a mental health condition. 

The drug involved can also have an impact on the mental health of a person. Alcohol use can worsen an addict’s anxiety or depression while psychoactive drugs such as meth or marijuana use can cause psychotic reactions. 

Dual Diagnosis Treatment in Rehab

For medical professionals, people suffering from a substance use disorder, as well as a mental illness, present quite the challenge when it comes to treatment thanks to the overlapping symptoms. 

A successful recovery will require great care and patience due to the sensitive state of the addict. The mental health conditions make it very hard to get the patients to comply with the rules and regulations of a drug rehab facility.  

Another difficult aspect is convincing the patients to take part in recreational activities meant to help them recover, take medications, and attend therapy 

For these reasons, the treatment of co-occurring conditions is best provided by a dual diagnosis treatment center. These centers offer integrated drug abuse treatment as well as help with co-occurring mental health concerns all in one location. 

Dual Diagnosis Assessment

When you seek professional help with an addiction, the assigned medical expert will recommend a mental health evaluation to determine whether the problem is a dual diagnosis. 

A mental health expert will consider certain factors and study your symptoms to establish an accurate diagnosis. It is up to the mental health professional to determine if or not you’re self-motivated to go to rehab. 

While dual diagnosis symptoms vary across persons and the substance involved, some of the common symptoms that will be assessed include:

  • Severe depression.
  • Broken relationships with friends and family.
  • Uncontrolled use of drugs or alcohol. 
  • Sudden and extreme behavioral changes. 
  • Heavy dependence on substances to function through the day. 

Dual Diagnosis Treatment Process During Rehab

Addiction rehab counselors collaborate with mental health professionals to offer well-rounded, specialized care to each condition described in the diagnosis. 

The treatment process provided by most dual diagnosis treatment centers starts with assessing the patient’s psychiatric health. This stage helps identify which mental health disorder the patient is suffering from and may involve psychiatric counseling to address the problem. 

With the insight provided by the psychiatric analysis, drug counselors work with the patient to address their addiction. A crucial part of addiction rehab is behavioral modification therapy. Patients are taught new techniques for coping with their addiction and how to avoid triggers that can initiate a relapse.

Some rehab facilities have acknowledged that treating a dual diagnosis requires a comprehensive therapeutic strategy. As such, they subject patients to holistic care techniques such as yoga, massage therapy, and meditation. 

Patients are also involved in intensive individual and group counseling sessions where a counselor addresses both the addictive disorder and the psychiatric diagnosis. 

Rehab facilities that practice the aforementioned holistic approaches enjoy better success rates and low relapse rates. 

Managing a dual diagnosis often requires pharmacotherapy and is considered an essential part of successful recovery by many experts. Pharmacotherapy involves using medicinal support to manage symptoms such as depression, withdrawals, bipolar disorder, and physical cravings. 

Finding the Right Dual Diagnosis Treatment Center 

Historically, there has been a nationwide divide between addiction treatment and mental health. As a result, people with a co-occurring condition found it very hard to get the healthcare they require in either drug rehab facilities or mental health treatment programs. 

But that was then. The emergence of integrated dual diagnosis programs has made it possible for people with dual diagnoses to receive effective treatment. 

Healthcare experts who specialize in drug abuse recovery have now realized the need for supportive and compassionate care when treating patients with dual diagnoses. Patients no longer have to participate in different treatment programs that do not address their unique needs. 

Before checking into a dual diagnosis treatment center, make sure it is licensed and accredited by the appropriate governing bodies. Your recovery, or that of your loved one, may very well depend on it.