What is Dual Diagnosis Treatment and why is it so important?
There are many different forms of addiction and many forms of addiction treatment. Each form of treatment is designed to meet specific needs. For example, IOP (intensive outpatient programs) is less intensive for patients who require flexibility in their schedules. GenPsych’s dual diagnosis treatment program has been designed to meet the needs of patients who suffer from addiction as well as a co-occurring or secondary diagnosis.
What is a dual diagnosis? Why is it so important for someone suffering from addiction and a secondary mental health problem to receive dual diagnosis treatment?
What exactly is a Dual Diagnosis?
When it comes to the causes and sources of substance abuse problems, years of research have proven there are many ways for someone to develop an addiction. In some cases, addiction develops primarily as a result from someone’s environment; it’s very common for people who were exposed to alcohol and/or drug abuse during their childhood to experiment with substance abuse when they are older. Others begin to experiment with alcohol and drug abuse out of sheer curiosity. It is also very common for addiction to develop in people afflicted with pre-existing disorders. These individuals are referred to as dual diagnosis patients.
So, what exactly is a dual diagnosis? In the clearest terms, a dual diagnosis is someone who suffers from both an alcohol and/or drug addiction along with a secondary co-occurring (or “comorbid”) disorder. While the secondary disorder can include a wide variety of health conditions, many individuals with dual diagnoses suffer from a co-occurring mental health disorder. It is currently estimated that approximately 45 percent of people suffering from an addiction to alcohol or drugs also suffer from some form of a mental health disorder.
A good example of a dual diagnosis would be a patient suffering from alcoholism and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In this case, a possible explanation could be the experience of trauma in the past which had led them to use drugs or alcohol as a means of self-treating their psychological and emotional effects; over time, this continued use of the substance leads to eventual reliance and results in physiological dependence or addiction.
Many individuals suffering from panic disorder and similar anxiety-related problems may have developed a substance abuse after attempting to use mind-altering substances to self-medicate. With anxiety, it’s not usually one single past event which triggers the emotional discomfort. Alternatively, the anxiety may occur randomly and seemingly without any provocation. If the sufferer has not sought treatment for anxiety, he or she may find using alcohol or drugs are the only way to get relief from anxiety.
There are numerous other mental health conditions with high occurrences of addiction comorbidity. For example, most mood disorders such as depression and anxiety are common with individuals that have substance abuse issues.
Dual Diagnosis of Addiction
In the simplest form, dual diagnosis addiction treatment refers to an addiction treatment program in which patients receive treatments for both addictions as well as their comorbid mental or emotional disorders. Put simply, dual-diagnosis treatment incorporates treatment for both addiction and the additional, secondary illness.
Like most forms of treatment, dual diagnosis programs can be both inpatient or outpatient. GenPsych provides outpatient programs to help the patient continue meeting their responsibilities in life while getting the treatment they need. Since the addiction in dual diagnosis cases is almost always connected to a mental or emotional disorder in some way, our dual-diagnosis treatment has two main goals: to help the patient overcome their alcohol or drug addiction and to manage the mental or emotional disorder so that the severity of symptoms are unlikely to provoke relapse.
Most clinical addiction programs are the foundation of psychotherapy and counseling. The goal of psychotherapy for addiction is to help the patient uncover the contributing factors of the substance abuse while also providing strategies for overcoming these factors to minimize the potential for future relapse. Dual-diagnosis treatment has a foundation of psychotherapy and counseling. This program is unique in that it must also treat the secondary or co-occurring disorder. So, if a dual diagnosis patient suffers from comorbid post-traumatic stress disorder, the treatment would attempt to identify the root cause of the individual’s addiction while helping the individual cope with the source of the trauma. For addicted patients suffering from depression, the program would focus on helping them return to emotional balance; in some cases, it might be necessary to take antidepressant medications, which prevent the feeling of the need to self-medicate.
Why is Dual Diagnosis Treatment so Important?
Dual diagnosis refers to an individual suffering from a secondary mental or emotional disorder and suffering from alcoholism or drug addiction. Success in recovery is dependent on receiving adequate treatment for both the addiction and the co-occurring mental disorder.
Dual-diagnosis treatment is so important because there is usually a correlation between the two conditions; if one becomes worse, the other is likely to get worse also. This would make it very difficult for a dual diagnosis patient to receive treatment for addiction; while the individual might overcome the substance abuse problem, he or she might return home and still deal with the symptoms of their mental or emotional disorder. This would make it extremely unlikely they would be able to sustain their newfound sobriety.
GenPsych has five treatment centers located throughout New Jersey. We offer an Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) to help our clients recover from Anxiety, Depression, Eating Disorders, Alcohol and Drug Addiction. If you or a loved one need help, don’t wait, start today.