The Discovery House Blog

Which Came First: The Mental Illness or the Addiction?

October 3, 2016 Addiction Treatment

In the past, treatment for substance addiction was kept separate from the treatment of mental health disorders. Care was provided at different treatment facilities, and very distinct approaches were used for each condition. As a result, many individuals who suffered from both an addiction and a psychiatric condition never received the appropriate treatment for both disorders.

Today, dual diagnosis treatment blends effective components of addiction therapy and mental health care to create a comprehensive treatment program that addresses the two co-occurring disorders.

Understanding Co-occurring Disorders

It’s not unusual for mental health disorders and substance abuse to go hand in hand. Research by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates that up to one in five American adults may struggle with some degree of mental illness. Within this group, about 7 million also suffer from alcohol or drug addiction.

In some cases, a mental illness such as anxiety or depression develops first, and the individual begins to abuse a substance as a form of self-medication. It doesn’t take long for the person to start relying on this substance to ease their painful emotional symptoms, and an addiction develops quickly. Other cases of dual diagnosis may begin with substance addiction, and a mental health disorder develops afterward. Regardless of which condition occurred first, the final result is the same. The individual requires the customized, integrated care offered by a dual diagnosis treatment program.

“The Discovery House offers special dual diagnosis treatment programs for individuals requiring specific types of assistance,” notes David Dequa, Program Director of The Discovery House. “We use integrated treatment for co-occurring disorders in order to effectively meet all the individual’s underlying issues. Our therapists conduct a thorough bio-psych-social assessment on residents before they begin treatment and then design their rehab around the resident’s needs. Those with a dual diagnosis will be enrolled in a treatment plan that will integrate addiction therapy with mental health treatment.”

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The Importance of Integrated Treatment

There are multiple benefits to treating substance addiction and co-occurring psychiatric conditions at the same time:
• An integrated treatment program addresses some of the negative consequences of mental health problems, such as reduced motivation and fears about socializing with others.
• Therapy that involves medication is more effective when the pharmaceuticals address both the addiction and the mental health disorder.
• Group therapy for people with a dual diagnosis provides a solid support network for people who suffer from both a psychiatric condition and a substance addiction.
• Treating a mental health disorder and a substance addiction at the same time allows clients to address the unique emotions and triggers that may lead them to relapse, such as panic attacks or depression. Clients learn how to handle emotional pain without using drugs or alcohol.

According to research by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), combining therapeutic techniques from the areas of psychiatry and addiction treatment can reduce the relapse rate among patients who complete the program. An integrated approach has also been proven to lower the risk of suicide among graduates of the program.

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How to Get Help for Addiction and Dual Diagnosis

If you’re looking for a residential treatment center that can address both a substance addiction and a mental health disorder, it’s important to research your options carefully. Not every drug rehab center is equipped to provide this level of integrated care. At the Discovery House, we offer integrated treatment to meet the needs of clients who struggle with drug or alcohol addiction alongside a psychiatric condition.

There is no single treatment plan for dual diagnosis patients since the range of psychiatric conditions is so broad. Clients with a dual diagnosis may have disorders that include:
• Anxiety
• Depression
• Eating disorders
• Personality disorders
• Bipolar disorder
• Grief
• Psychological trauma
• Mood disorders

Our integrated treatment program allows clients to heal in all ways, and it offers them the best possible chance for long-term recovery.

The Discovery House, a fully licensed, Joint Commission accredited facility 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.

Do you agree that integrated treatment for co-occurring disorders is crucial to long-term recovery? Do you or a loved one have experience with combined mental illness and substance abuse? Please share with us on Facebook or Twitter @TDHRehab #TDHRehab

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