One of the greatest challenges that substance abuse can offer to both the patient and those trying to help them comes in the form of Dual diagnosis or Co-Occurring Disorders. A Dual diagnosis is made when a person is found to not only suffer from an addiction problem but also to have an underlying mental disorder or developmental issue independent of the addiction itself.
Many times the patient’s addiction is the result of attempts, on their part, to self-medicate or compensate for their mental illness. Though this is normally done at a subconscious level, it is strongly evidenced by the combinations of disorders and the drugs of choice that people chose.
Common Examples of Dual Diagnosis
While there are no steadfast rules as to what substance any particular person will choose to abuse, certain trends have been found. Most common among these being:
- Major depression with cocaine addiction
- Alcohol addiction with panic disorders
- Alcoholism and poly-drug addiction with schizophrenia
- Borderline personality disorder with episodic poly-drug abuse
This is by no means an exhaustive list and in truth, one of the challenges, from a treatment standpoint, is the high variability of combinations that can be found and separating the symptoms of the psychological disorder from those caused by the drug or alcohol abuse. Many times, treatment specialists are initially faced with a moving target making a proper diagnosis near impossible.
Difficulties in Making a Dual Diagnosis
Any time you add additional factors to a patient’s condition it becomes more difficult to make a firm diagnosis. When dealing with dual disorders, you not only have the issue of two complimentary diseases, you have the added dimensions of severity, chronicity, disability, and degree of impairment in functioning.
The severity of both addiction and mental disorders can increase or decrease over time and be dependent on the person’s present environment and state of mind. As long as both the addiction and the mental disorder are present and active, this means that the observable symptoms can change drastically and in unexpected ways.
People with dual diagnosed disorders often experience more severe and chronic medical, emotional, and social problems than people who suffer from a mental health condition or substance abuse disorder alone.
That is one of the primary reasons that it is often necessary for someone with substance abuse problems to go through detox and further treatment for their drug abuse problems before their mental and/or developmental issues can be fully addressed properly.
Because a patient with Co-Occurring Disorders is, in essence, fighting two wars at the same time, they are more in danger of relapsing back to drug or alcohol use. Beyond this, their relapse can lead to a worsening of their mental state, which can, in turn, lead to further relapses. Great care must be taken to prevent this vicious cycle from developing.
With these underlying issues, it has to be expected that their progress through a treatment program is going to be slower and require closer monitoring than that of a patient with only a substance abuse problem or mental disorder on its own. The special needs, caused by their psychiatric condition in conjunction with drug use, must be kept in mind at all times during the detox process and extra support provided.
In order to prevent them from relapsing, a special program has to be designed that takes into consideration their specific mental and emotional needs as well as managing the physical aspects of their detox program.
Causes of Dual Disorders
Substance abuse and psychiatric disorders are both highly dynamic processes. They each, in their own way, have a life of their own within the patient’s mind. However, they most often occur due to a combination of environmental and biological factors including:
- Environmental influences- Certain situations can induce or help sustain these disorders.
- Genetic susceptibility- Recent studies have suggested that there is a genetic component to both drug addiction and the risk of mental disorders.
- Pharmacologic influences- Certain drugs are more addictive than others and depending on their psychoactive properties, are more likely to lead to mental disorders and addiction issues.
It has to be remembered that every case is as completely unique as the person involved. In any given instance, it could be any combination of these three factors or on some occasions, none of the above.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has determined that an approach utilizing integrated treatment methods offers the best opportunity of success both for the patients psychological and addiction issues. By integrated treatment, they mean that rather than treating each problem independently a comprehensive plan should be established to treat the afflicted person as a whole.
With an integrated treatment process, a person receives treatment for both their addiction and their psychological problems from the same treatment team. It is felt that this approach does a better job of providing the patient with the support they need to move beyond their situation and develop the confidence required to move forward and handle their life’s problems in a proper and less destructive manner.
Elements of an integrated treatment plan might include:
- Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
- Specialized Counseling
- Drug and Alcohol Education
- Supportive Employment
- Help Establishing Recovery and Life Goals
- Onsite Addiction Treatment Psychiatrist
- Psychoeducational Classes
- Onsite Double Trouble Groups
- Access to Dual Recovery Mutual Self-Help Groups after Leaving The Facility
- Outpatient Substance Abuse Treatment Programs for Clients with COD
In 2014, the last year we have a hard number for, it was estimated that 9.7 million Americans suffered from the effects of Co-Occurring Disorders. The cost not just to them but to their families and society as a whole is immeasurable.
Call Lumiere Today
If you or a loved one are struggling with alcoholism in Florida, give Lumiere Detox Center a call now at 855-535-8501. The specialists at our detox and treatment program in Florida are available 24/7 to answer any questions you may have about the admissions process. Break free from addiction now and live the life you are destined for.