What is dual diagnosis?
Dual diagnosis is when a person suffers from both a mental health disorder and a substance abuse problem. Alcohol and drug addiction tend to accompany depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, and personality disorders. Whether the mental disorder led to the addiction, or the addiction preceded the disorder, the self-medication must stop, and treating both simultaneously is imperative to reach full recovery.
Recognize the signs.
Recognizing the signs of addiction in yourself and seeking the first steps toward recovery is a brave move. You may have wrestled with denial and feelings of guilt, but now you know you deserve the true happiness only sobriety can give you.
But I’m still not myself…
Even after all you’ve done to improve yourself, though, do you have a nagging feeling in the back of your head that addiction isn’t all that’s bothering you? If you’re bogged down by the blues or excessive moodiness, it might not be. Dual diagnosis is a very common issue among users and is nothing to be ashamed of.
Take back your life.
Dual diagnosis is a complicated and serious combination, but there are plenty of treatment options available that are designed to simultaneously treat your mental disorder and addiction.
When a qualified psychiatrist, physician, or therapist gives you a dual diagnosis, you may find you breathe a sigh of relief. It might explain the emotional turmoil, self-destructive behaviors, and factors contributing to your grief that you just didn’t seem able to control. While you still may be frightened and overwhelmed, you now know this illness can be treated.
Find a coach.
The most common reason for substance abuse relapse is an untreated mental health disorder, so it is vital that you battle both demons in order to reach true recovery. The concept of hurdling over two obstacles at once seems very frightening and intimidating, but there are many treatment programs available to coach you on how to leap over those hurdles. Some of these include pharmacotherapy, CBT, DBT, holistic therapy, inpatient, and outpatient methods.
Regardless of the treatment program you enroll in, the benefits of treatment are endless. You’ll learn life-coping skills, improve interpersonal relationships, establish confidence in the workplace, rejuvenate your passion for life, and, most importantly, you’ll be free from addiction and on your way to managing your mental illness.
What can I expect next?
Following a psychiatric health assessment and initial detox, your care should include many of the following:
- Parallel treatment of both mental health and addiction disorders
- Incorporation of psychotherapeutic medications to combat the mental illness side of your condition
- Behavioral modification therapy to help you identify triggers and cope with dual diagnosis
- Inclusive treatment strategies that involve your loved ones in your rehab journey including counseling and group meetings
- A supportive, safe approach that reinforces self-esteem, encourages acceptance, and eliminates negative, aggressive thinking patterns
- Holistic, individualized long-term therapy that targets each part of your condition from the inside out including yoga, nutritional counseling, massage therapy, and more
- Relapse prevention education to keep you focused on sobriety
- Mutual support groups and individual counseling sessions
A dangerous addiction.
Extremely complex and life-threatening, an eating disorder (ED) isn’t always thought of as an addiction. But when your relationship with food begins to negatively interfere with your life, harming you and those who care about you, an ED quickly bears an uncanny resemblance to substance abuse. In fact, nearly 50% of individuals with an eating disorder also abuse drugs or alcohol, creating a dual diagnosis.
Resulting from a variety of genetic, biological, psychological, and social factors, the following common eating disorders are generally a response to stress or problematic body image issues:
- Anorexia Nervosa – Characterized by employing extreme measures to not gain weight, through restrictive or binging and purging means, including starvation, over-exercise, or self-induced vomiting.
- Bulimia Nervosa – Refers to binging and purging methods similar to those used with anorexia, but in this case the person is at least a normal weight. Abuse of laxatives and diuretics to aid in purging is also common.
- Binge-Eating Disorder – Chronic overeating without an ability to stop and take control of the situation.
- Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (EDNOS) – Non-specific EDs that may combine elements of the above common disorders, and that affect a person’s quality of life.
What makes it an addiction?
Like substance abuse addiction, many people with eating disorders look to food either as comfort or as a way to control chaos in their lives. Commonly co-occurring, EDs and substance abuse unsurprisingly share similar risk factors and characteristics:
- Vulnerabilities and factors: genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological triggers.
- Issues often begin in adolescence or childhood while brain is developing.
- Influences from unhealthy peer norms, social pressures, low self-esteem, and other issues.
- Involvement of similar brain regions and neurotransmitters that influence reward pathways, stress responses, and mood.
What treatments are available?
There are a variety of treatment options available that target both eating disorder and substance abuse addictions:
- Ongoing medical care and education
- Detoxification to repair liver and restore nutritional deficiencies
- Inpatient or outpatient programs, depending on the stage and severity of the disorder
- Behavioral therapies, holistic therapies, pharmacotherapy, and nutrition therapy
- Individual and group counseling
- Body-image work and coping skills trainings
- Trauma work
- 12 step group support
Total abstinence from abused substances is also crucial to relearning how to eat and take care of yourself properly.
What people are saying about the National Assessment Foundation
“I cannot say enough about National Addiction Foundation — the services they offer are invaluable. They didn’t just find any program for my son, they took the time to find the right one. I will always remember what they have done to help my son and our family. I can’t express how grateful I am for their services and will recommend them to all that are in need. Thank you, thank you from the bottom of my heart.”
“I am so thankful and blessed to have National Addiction Foundation as part of [my life]. They made this happen for my father, and I will forever be in debt to them for their help during this difficult time. I truly appreciate the work that you all do.”
“National Assessment Foundation was the miracle I prayed for. They went above and beyond in reaching out to make sure my son was on the plane and on his way to safety and treatment. I have been able to sleep at night knowing he is in good care and on his way to a change in behavior and choices. They are helping him win the battle of addiction, and I will forever be grateful to them for saving his life.”
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