Dual diagnosis, also known as a co-occurring disorder, is when an individual has both a drug or alcohol addiction and an underlying mental health condition. In fact, astudy from the National Institute on Drug Abuse suggests that 60 percent of adolescents in a drug rehab program also meet the criteria for a mental illness. This emphasizes why early intervention is so necessary when it comes to treating co-occurring mental illness and addiction. The goal of dual diagnosis treatment is to treat the entire person – addressing both the substance use disorder and any underlying mental health conditions through the use of evidence-based therapies.
Which Types of Mental Health Disorders Can Dual Diagnosis Treatment Address?Dual diagnosis treatment can address a variety of mental health conditions, ranging from mild to severe disorders:
- Mood Disorders (including major depressive disorder, seasonal affective disorder, dysthymic disorder, and others)
- Bipolar Disorder
- Borderline Personality Disorder
- Eating Disorders
- And many others
Who is a Candidate for Dual Diagnosis Treatment?There are a few key indicators that someone would benefit from dual diagnosis treatment, either in aresidential treatment program oroutpatient program. These can include:
Having a Mental Health DisorderIn order to receive dual diagnosis treatment, there needs to be a mental health condition that accompanies drug or alcohol addiction. As mentioned above, this can include a variety of disorders such as anxiety, depression, PTSD, mood disorders, and many others. To be diagnosed with a mental health condition, the individual needs to be evaluated by a licensed medical professional.
Changes in MoodAnother indicator that someone could be a candidate for dual diagnosis treatment is if they are experiencing changes in behavior. This could involve socially withdrawing from friends and families, no longer participating in activities that once brought them joy, engaging in risky behavior, or feeling hopeless.
Difficulty Managing Daily ResponsibilitiesIf an individual is having difficulty going to work or even taking care of their personal hygiene, these can be signs they could potentially benefit from dual diagnosis treatment.
MotivationMotivation plays a critical role in receiving dual diagnosis treatment. It’s important to actively engage in the various therapy sessions, as this is essential for maintaining sobriety and overall mental and emotional well-being. Dual diagnosis is a very complex condition. It can often be difficult to know if the drug addiction is a result of the mental health condition or if the mental health condition is triggered by the drug use. This is why receiving help from professionals who specialize in co-occurring disorders is important – they can provide the necessary support and care for individuals who are struggling with addiction. They can also help them better understand their reasons for drug use, identify potential triggers, and provide them with tools to cope with life in healthier ways.
Therapies Provided in Dual Diagnosis TreatmentThere are several therapies that are known for being very effective in dual diagnosis treatment, which are listed below. Often times treatment involves a multi-faceted approach that combines several different types of therapies over the course of weeks or months.
Cognitive Behavioral TherapyCognitive Behavioral Therapy, also known as CBT, is aimed at helping individuals change their negative thought patterns to more positive ones. The idea is that thoughts affect feelings, which ultimately influence our behaviors.
Motivational InterviewingMotivational Interviewing helps individuals uncover their own motivations for change and supports them in building a commitment to the changes they want to experience in their life. In addition to the above types of therapies, individuals in dual diagnosis treatment programs will also have the opportunity to meet in individual therapy sessions, group therapy sessions, and trauma-informed therapy, and potentially receive medications to help with their mental health condition.
Why It’s Important to Receive Dual Diagnosis TreatmentReceiving treatment for co-occurring disorders can make all the difference for someone living a sober life after addiction treatment. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA, people with co-occurring disorders are more likely to be hospitalized than those with only a mental health condition or substance use disorder. This makes it very important to receive dual diagnosis treatment. Additionally, SAMHSA mentions that an integrated approach to co-occurring disorder treatment can improve quality of life by:
- Reducing or discontinuing substance use
- Improving psychiatric symptoms and functioning
- Increasing the chance for successful treatment and recovery for both mental illness and drug addiction
- Decreasing hospitalization
- Reducing medication interactions