A 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health revealed that 7.9 million people in the United States suffer from both an addiction and a mental health condition and that more than half of those people are men. The clinical term for someone who struggles with both addiction and mental health issues is ‘dual diagnosis’. Dual diagnosis is so common that many mental health clinics now routinely use addiction screening tools to check for the co-occurring mental health condition.
Mental health treatment plays a vital role during rehab, and planning for continuing outpatient treatment is also crucial. Co-occurring addiction and mental health problems can come about when someone suffering from a mental or emotional problem begins to self-medicate with alcohol or drugs. The reverse can also happen. Chronic drug and alcohol use can lead to changes in behavior and brain chemistry that leave mental and/or emotional damage, even after successful detox. If both mental and addictive illnesses are not treated simultaneously, the chances for relapse are high.
What Are the Symptoms of Co-Occurring Addiction and Mental Health Issues?
Many different mental health conditions can come before or after a person develops an addiction. Some common conditions that show up together when a person enters rehab are:
- Post-traumatic stress disorder.
- Anxiety disorders.
- Eating disorders.
- Bipolar disorders.
Symptoms of an underlying mental health condition can be specific to the condition involved, but some general warning symptoms also apply and include:
- Suicidal thoughts.
- Having a suicide plan.
- Withdrawing from friends and family.
- Confused thinking.
- Panic attacks.
- Extreme mood changes.
Addiction comes with similar symptoms and may have developed in an attempt to cope with the underlying mental health problem or vice versa. Addiction has been shown to result in changes in brain function which cause specific symptoms. These symptoms include:
- Loss of control over substance use.
- Withdrawal from friends and family.
- High-risk behaviors.
- Taking substances under dangerous conditions.
- Increasing tolerance to an addicting substance so the client needs more and more.
- Feeling unable to function without the addictive substance.
Treatment of dual diagnosis clients in rehab starts with substance detoxification. Inpatient detox is highly recommended since coming off of an addictive substance can cause emergency health conditions the client might not anticipate or recognize. During the process of detox, which can take up to seven days, expert technicians monitor the client while the addictive substance safely leaves the body. Detox is never fun, but inpatient detox offers the least discomfort possible under the most professional conditions. The importance of arranging for the detoxification step to take place in a safe, supportive, professional environment is difficult to overstate. Without professional input and support, detox too often ends in immediate relapse.
After Detox: The Importance of Supportive Housing for Dual Diagnosis Clients
Inpatient treatment of dual diagnosis clients supports healing by taking the client out of the environment that supported the original problems. Supportive housing can be absolutely crucial to recovery for dual diagnosis clients, since simply removing the addictive substance from the body and then releasing the person right back into the old environment without addressing and treating the underlying problems is not only cruel, it’s a recipe for revolving door relapse.
A safe, soothing environment that provides a bit of freedom mixed with a lot of supervised care is essential to healing. Post-detox, dual diagnosis clients often feel vulnerable and physically shaky. Before long the underlying mental health issue will surface, at which point it can be diagnosed in-house and a treatment plan can be formed that extends well beyond the inpatient facility. Observing a mental health issue in an inpatient setting gives a distinct advantage to the clinician, who is more likely to form an accurate diagnosis quickly than in an outpatient setting, where first-person client reports are sometimes the main criteria.
Depending on the specific mental health condition that co-occurs with addiction, medication may be an important part of treatment. Some mental health conditions like depression and bipolar disorder improve dramatically once the correct dose of the correct medication is administered over time. As the client feels better, the urge to abuse substances decreases naturally. When support is added, chances for full recovery become very good.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or CBT, helps the dual diagnosis client understand his or her underlying issues in a healthier way. CBT can be surprisingly effective over a relatively short period of time. With some mental conditions, treatment is by necessity more complex and of longer duration, so a post-release treatment plan at an appropriate institution or counseling center becomes essential.
Beyond Rehab: Living and Thriving with Healthy SupportThe effectiveness of regular participation in support groups post-rehab has been well-established, but the dual diagnosis has become so common that new, more targeted support groups have become available in recent years. Forming friendships with others struggling to recover from the same addictions and the same underlying mental health conditions helps both kinds of recovery. Post-rehab plans may also include regular doctor visits to check medication effectiveness and dosage, and ongoing CBT or other ongoing appropriate mental health care. Inpatient care is designed to create a strong platform on which the client can build a sober or clean life and cope with an underlying condition at the same time.
Recovering from a dual diagnosis addiction and mental health issue is not easy, especially at first. With strong support systems, regular counseling, appropriate medications, and the vital head start provided by a top-notch inpatient rehab center, people suffering from dual diagnosis addiction and mental health issues can move from suffering to thriving and gain new hope. .If you have been putting off dealing with what may be an addiction or mental health problem or both, don’t waste another minute. We can help, and our counselors are available 24 hours a day. Put away your sorrow, shame, and suffering and call (866) 840-6411 now. Your new life awaits.