Living with addiction and a co-occurring mental health disorder can be tough. Co-occurring disorders can drive substance abuse and make it more difficult to engage in certain types of treatment.
If you have a co-occurring disorder, you're not alone. Almost half of all people with substance use disorders may have a dual diagnosis. The good news is that by treating both conditions simultaneously, you can achieve holistic and lasting recovery of your entire person. At Cornerstone Socal, we'll show you how.
What Is Dual Diagnosis?
A dual diagnosis is when someone is diagnosed with both a substance use disorder and a mental health disorder. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, over 9.2 million people in the United States may live with a dual diagnosis.
If untreated, co-occurring mental disorders can cause addiction to restart, even after long periods of abstinence. At the same time, substance abuse can exacerbate symptoms of mental illness and prevent individuals from fully engaging in therapy or other treatments.
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By treating the two conditions simultaneously, dual diagnosis treatment aims to resolve these issues and promote meaningful and lasting recovery.
What Are Some Common Co-Occurring Disorders?
People living with substance use disorders (SUDs) may struggle with a range of mental health issues. According to a research report by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, data shows high rates of SUDs and:
- generalized anxiety disorder
- panic disorder
- post-traumatic stress disorder
- bipolar disorder
Some other common mental health disorders that may occur alongside addiction include:
- attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
- psychotic illness (schizophrenia)
- borderline personality disorder
- antisocial personality disorder
Someone with a serious mental health problem, such as severe depression symptoms or schizophrenia, is more likely to have a co-occurring substance use disorder.
How Do Co-Occurring Disorders Drive Substance Abuse Issues?
Some people with mental health disorders may use substances as a strategy or coping mechanism to deal with emotional distress, particularly if they are not receiving any other mental health support. In the short term, drugs and alcohol may help people to relax or offer an escape from reality. However, using substances does not promote any long-term recovery from mental illnesses, and may only make symptoms worse.
Scientists also think that people living with mood and behavioral disorders may have unbalanced brain chemistry that makes them more susceptible to the rewarding effects of substances, making it more likely that they will develop a drug or alcohol addiction.
How Does Substance Addiction Affect Mental Health Problems?
Abusing drugs and alcohol may exacerbate symptoms of mental health disorders or even lead to the development of a co-occurring condition.
Drug and alcohol abuse often causes people to neglect healthy eating, exercise, activities they enjoy, and other aspects of self-care that help to maintain good mental well-being. It can also lead to financial concerns and strained relationships that cause stress and anxiety. Moreover, repeated drug use can lead to chemical imbalances in the brain that are associated with mental health issues.
In some cases, dual-diagnosis disorders can precipitate a destructive cycle of worsening mental health and substance abuse issues. Dual diagnosis treatment is essential to disrupt this pathway of harm and turn it into a journey of recovery, where improved mental health supports long-term abstinence, and vice-versa.
What Does a Dual Diagnosis Treatment Program Involve?
Dual-diagnosis treatment programs look different for each type of co-occurring disorder and according to the varying needs of each individual. Dual-diagnosis treatment centers usually combine a variety of treatment modalities for both conditions in a personalized treatment plan tailored to each client's needs.
Treatment modalities that address co-occurring mental health disorders like anxiety or depression may involve, among others:
- cognitive-behavioral therapy to identify unhelpful thought and behavioral patterns and change them into positive ones
- medication management
- group therapy
- yoga and meditation
Dual-diagnosis treatment options that address drug and alcohol addiction may also include behavioral therapies, group therapy, and mindfulness techniques. Behavioral therapies can help individuals identify the underlying causes of addictive behavior and develop strategies to cope with and avoid cravings while mindfulness techniques may offer a healthy way to deal with triggers of stress or anxiety.
Other addiction treatment approaches may include:
- support groups
- life skills development
- medication-assisted treatment
- experiential therapies
- complementary therapy
Dual-diagnosis treatment programs may involve residential treatment (where you stay in a facility for the duration of the treatment program) or outpatient treatment (where you regularly attend a dual-diagnosis treatment center while continuing to live at home.
Recovery from drug and alcohol addiction is a life-long process that requires continued dedication and support. Likewise, many types of mental health treatment also involve continued maintenance treatments to prevent symptoms from returning.
Because of this, a dual-diagnosis program usually involves extensive and comprehensive aftercare to provide ongoing support after a client has left the center. This may involve connecting them with local support groups, outpatient services, or offering recovery coaching. Addiction treatment centers may have alumni programs where individuals can stay connected with the place they got sober and continue to access a community of support.
Dual Diagnosis Treatment at Cornerstone Socal
Cornerstone Socal is a premier mental health and addiction treatment center in Orange County. We offer a diverse selection of treatment modalities that address the root causes of addiction, promoting holistic healing and life-long sobriety. Our expert team adapts our medical-based approaches to your unique needs, giving you the best chance of reaching your recovery goals.
Our mental health outpatient services, available for all clients living with a dual diagnosis, offer our full range of treatment options, helping you to heal your entire person. We're here to help you reclaim the best version of yourself at every stage of the recovery process.
If you're living with a dual diagnosis or substance addiction, contact us at our private paradise in heart of Southern California today. With our help, you can launch your new beginnings.