As many as 8 million people in the United States today are suffering from a dual diagnosis, also known as co-occurring disorders. Dual diagnosis refers to the presence of both a mental illness and a substance addiction. Both of these conditions require treatment and rehab is the ideal place to obtain treatment and therapy for both conditions.
It’s important that these two conditions be treated simultaneously for the best outcome. Either condition can affect the other, so targeting both with treatments is the best way to manage co-occurring disorders.
“Someone with an addiction and mental health disorder needs specialized treatment that addresses both issues in order to recover completely,” says David Dequa, Program Director at The Discovery House, a residential and outpatient drug treatment center in Los Angeles. “In some cases, we monitor medication to manage mental health disorders such as bipolar disorder or obsessive compulsive disorder. The resident will also need intensive therapy to learn how to manage the emotional pain of a mental health disorder without turning to drugs or alcohol.”
Understanding Co-Occurring Disorders
Managing a mental illness or an addiction is tough enough, but taken together, these two conditions can seem overwhelming for sufferers. A dual diagnosis, or co-occurring disorders, are given when someone has a mental disorder as well as an addiction. Either condition can occur first, but often that first illness gives way to the other. For example, someone with a mental disorder like depression might be tempted to escape from its symptoms by turning to alcohol or drugs. Once use becomes abuse, addiction is not far away. On the other hand, someone who chronically abuses alcohol or drugs can change the chemistry of their brain so much that a mental disorder occurs. Treatment will address both disorders regardless of which occurred first.
Managing Co-occurring Disorders
Rehab centers like The Discovery House have experience treating patients with concurrent disorders. Once a treatment plan is outlined, patients typically begin medical detox. It’s important to be weaned from the addictive drug to break the body’s physical dependence on it. Depending on the nature of the mental illness, medications like antidepressants may also be administered. Withdrawal symptoms can become intense, so staff may treat them with additional medications in order to keep sufferers as comfortable as possible.
Once detox is complete, recovering addicts can then begin the therapy that addresses their mental illness and also targets the psychological and behavioral aspects of their addiction. Rehab generally features individual and group counseling as well as other therapies that support the addict during the recovery process. The goal of treatment is to effectively manage the mental illness and to help the patient overcome all aspects of their addiction.
What Happens after Drug or Alcoholism Rehab?
It’s important to keep in mind that recovery is a long, on-going process that doesn’t end when a person walks out of rehab. Rehabilitation is an intensive part of treatment and recovery, but the recovery process will continue for some time. It’s important for people with concurrent disorders to adhere to their medical care plan regarding their mental disorder. Medications should be taken as directed and it’s important to visit healthcare providers on a regular basis so they can assess that the medications are working. For many people, a mental disorder is a lifelong condition; however, with effective management, sufferers can lead normal lives. Many recovering addicts also find attending an aftercare therapy, such as a 12-step program, to be helpful during the addiction recovery process. Attending aftercare programs, including Alcoholics Anonymous, is associated with a reduced rate of relapse, so it’s vital to choose a program to help support long-term recovery.
If you or someone you love is battling co-occurring disorders, rehab is the best place to begin the road to recovery. Viable treatments can help sufferers overcome addiction and bring their mental illness under control.
The Discovery House, located in the San Fernando Valley area of Los Angeles, utilizes a variety of treatment programs that allow each client to receive the individualized care they deserve. The pet-friendly Southern California rehab center offers a variety of inpatient and outpatient drug treatment programs to help drug addicts and alcoholics achieve and maintain sobriety.
Each client at The Discovery House receives customized care to end their dependence on prescription drugs, heroin and other opiates and/or alcohol in order to live a clean and sober life.