Understanding Dual Diagnosis Treatment
Many individuals diagnosed with a mental health disorder suffer from an addiction and vice versa. This is known as a co-occurring disorder or dual diagnosis. These individuals require a comprehensive treatment that is structured to address both issues, at the same time, in order to be effective.
Research shows that, treating one issue without considering the other is inadequate and leads to a higher relapse rate. There are all sorts of reasons that these problems may co-occur and often, the reasons overlap, causing them to become worse. This is known as comorbidity and although it doesn’t mean that one disorder caused the other, there is, none the less, a high prevalence between addiction and mental illness disorders.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “establishing causality or directionality is difficult for several reasons.” There are three scenarios of comorbidity that need to be taken into consideration as part of any treatment plan for someone classified as having a dual diagnosis.
- Abused drugs can cause abusers to experience a mental illness.
- A mental illness can lead to drug abuse.
- Both addiction disorders and mental illnesses are caused by overlapping factors such as underlying brain deficits, genetic vulnerabilities, or exposure to stress or trauma.
Through previous treatment methods, many people with co-occurring disorders, just, didn’t get the proper help that was needed because these issues were addressed separately. The common approaches for treating individuals with concurrent disorders were:
- Partial Treatment – Treating only the disorder considered primary.
- Sequential Treatment – Treating the first, the primary disorder, then secondary disorder after the primary disorder was stabilized.
- Parallel Treatment – Receiving mental health services from one provider and addictions services from another.
The primary goal of treatment at dual diagnosis services is to effectively treat the individual for their dual diagnosis by addressing any overlapping conditions as they are presented. Dual diagnosis rehab facilities combine the expertise of psychiatric professionals, medical professionals, counselors, therapists, and other clinicians to design a structured program that meets the client’s needs regarding both their addiction as well as their mental health issues.
Along with behavioral therapies, treatment plans may include medications that can treat opiate, alcohol, or nicotine addictions as well as medications that can alleviate symptoms of mental health problems such as anxiety, depression, and bi-polar. Concurrent treatments at dual diagnosis programs have proven successful to many and are now considered vital for anyone suffering from a dual diagnosis.