For people with co-occurring disorders, dual diagnosis treatment combines medication and psychotherapy. It’s used for those struggling with addiction or substance abuse as well as mental health. Because the two conditions are often found together, dual diagnosis treatment can help patients reduce their symptoms and improve their quality of life. In addition to helping the patient, this type of diagnosis can also help mental health staff provide better care. A support group facilitator, for example, will treat someone with a dual diagnosis of alcoholism and a psychiatric illness differently than if they were just in the group to deal with alcoholism alone.
If someone were suffering from alcohol abuse and bipolar disorder, they would benefit from this type of treatment. This is because, besides all the problems associated with excessive drinking they would also be experiencing extreme mood swings; irrational and unpredictable behavior; trouble sleeping and eating; feeling hopeless, guilty, or worthless; and difficulty concentrating. In this case, a dual diagnosis could be more effective than treating each condition separately.
How to Decide if You Need Dual Diagnosis Treatment?
You need the right treatment plan to recover from dual diagnosis. These plans may include mental health or substance abuse therapy, medication, self-care, and peer support. If you were to receive dual diagnosis treatment because you had two mental illnesses, say an addiction to heroin and depression, a therapist could give you a treatment plan to address both your addiction and mental health issues at the same time.
However, you should consider this type of treatment only if you believe that it will benefit you. A dual diagnosis treatment might not be necessary if your primary condition (mental illness or addiction) is improving. On the other hand, if your primary condition is getting worse, then it might be worthwhile for your therapist to use a dual diagnosis treatment plan to see if it helps you feel better.
A Dual Diagnosis Is Different from a Co-occurring Disorder
When dual diagnosis is confused with a co-occurring disorder, which is easy to do since the distinction between the two is often tricky to discern, it can result in a misdiagnosis. This, in turn, can lead to an ineffective treatment plan. Misdiagnosis occurs more often than people realize. It can be difficult to diagnose co-occurring disorders because many of the symptoms overlap, making it almost impossible for doctors or psychiatrists to identify which disorder is present. Co-occurring disorders include depression and anxiety, anxiety and addiction, bipolar disorder, and ADHD.
A dual diagnosis is a term used to describe people with two mental health disorders at the same time. Some examples are alcoholism and bipolar disorder, or heroin addiction and schizophrenia. These disorders occur independently of one another. Alcohol use, for example, is not caused by manic or depressive mood swings. By contrast, co-occurring disorders are a group of mental disorders that usually occur together because of a causal relationship. For instance, if you started taking opioids to manage your anxiety, then your mood disorder caused your addiction.
How Therapists Treat Dual Diagnosis in Rehab
Dual diagnosis is a complex issue with different treatment options depending on the conditions being addressed. Sometimes, for example, therapists treat just one disorder at a time to avoid any contraindications between two medications. At other times they might treat both disorders simultaneously, because of the synergistic effects of therapy with medication. Because dual disorders are caused by both biological and environmental factors, they are chronic, long-term conditions that require constant management. When a person has been exposed to repeated and prolonged risk factors or has suffered a traumatic event, they often experience an overwhelming number of symptoms at the same time. Since therapy is intricate and complex, therapists must understand the causes of the two disorders before they are able to provide effective treatment. Behavioral therapies and medications are often both included in dual diagnosis treatment plans.
For example, when a therapist is working with someone who is both an alcoholic and a schizophrenic, they may use both cognitive behavior therapy and the anti-psychotic drug chlorpromazine. By treating the patient with cognitive behavior therapy, they will be able to change any maladaptive behavior patterns that a patient finds difficult to manage. Then, by giving them chlorpromazine, they will be able to block the postsynaptic dopamine receptors in the frontal cortex of the brain because this will make it easier for the patient to improve their decision making and emotional regulation
If you have any questions about dual diagnosis treatment at a rehab facility, our counselors can answer them. We are available every day of the week, 24 hours a day. To reach us, call 844-639-8371.