If you’re struggling with a drug or alcohol problem, you may also be dealing with feelings of depression, mood swings or anxiety. When you suffer from both a psychiatric condition and a substance abuse problem, you’re said to have co-occurring disorders or a dual diagnosis disorder.
It’s common for people with a mental health disorder to abuse substances in an attempt to numb their feelings or control their thoughts. In fact, a study by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health reveals that nearly 9 million American adults who abuse a substance also have a mental health disorder.
“Mental health disorders and substance abuse commonly go hand in hand,” explains David Dequa, Program Director at The Discovery House, a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center in Los Angeles. “Either disorder can occur first, but often the result of one condition is the development of the other. Someone who suffers from mental illness like depression or an anxiety disorder may over time begin to self-medicate in order to ease their mind. Before long, these individuals begin to depend on the substance in order to manage their mental health disease, and they quickly find themselves addicted.”
Co-occurring disorders are treatable, but many people with a dual diagnosis don’t get the right kind of treatment for their needs. Understanding the warning signs of a co-occurring disorder can help you determine if you should seek help before the two conditions progress further.
Signs of Co-occurring Disorders
The only way to get an accurate diagnosis of co-occurring disorders is to be evaluated by a qualified mental health professional or trained addiction specialist. However, certain warning signs can suggest that a mental health disorder may be contributing to your substance abuse:
- Feeling hopeless or sad for a period of two weeks or more, even when you’re not under the influence of alcohol or drugs;
- Drinking or using drugs to block out painful memories or to numb feelings of anxiety or sadness;
- Relying on alcohol or drugs to get through stressful events or difficult social situations;
- A history of psychiatric disorders such as anxiety, depression or obsessive-compulsive disorder;
- Difficulties at home, work or school due to your substance abuse.
Without treatment, co-occurring disorders have damaging consequences. The two disorders can wreak havoc on your personal and professional lives, and they can cause feelings of social isolation. Identifying a case of co-occurring disorders and taking prompt action can help you avoid these consequences and move toward long-term recovery.
Treatment and Recovery
It’s not always easy to get the appropriate treatment for co-occurring disorders. Many drug and alcohol rehab facilities are able to treat addiction, but they’re not equipped to address the underlying mental health disorder that may be fueling the addictive behavior. Addiction experts agree that an integrated approach is needed to treat cases of dual diagnosis, addressing both the psychiatric condition and the substance abuse in a single, comprehensive program. Before you select an addiction treatment center, make sure that it offers specialized, integrated treatment for co-occurring disorders.
“The Discovery House’s addiction treatment programs help treat both sides of the addiction problem,” adds Dequa. “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.”
In an integrated program, individual therapy and group therapy will be important components of your treatment. Individual therapy sessions allow clients to explore the relationship between their psychiatric condition and their substance dependency, while group sessions provide participants with the opportunity to meet others who are facing similar challenges. Once a client leaves the treatment center, they are urged to participate in aftercare alcohol and drug treatment services for continued support and motivation.
Finding treatment for dual diagnosis disorders
Co-occurring disorders can be challenging to address, but long-term recovery is possible with the right treatment plan. If you think you may be struggling with both a mental health disorder and a substance abuse problem, contact the addiction professionals at the Discovery House. Our trained specialists can assess your situation and help determine the right treatment plan to get you on the road to 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. To learn more about The Discovery House or call (818) 452-1676.
Do you agree that treatment for dual diagnosis disorders is crucial to long-term recovery? Do you or a loved one have experience with treatment for co-occurring disorders? Please share with us on Facebook or Twitter @TDHRehab #AddictionTreatment