Why Dual Diagnosis Treatment is So Important


Sometimes the reason people become addicts have something to do with an underlying condition. It’s not uncommon for drug or alcohol addiction to be associated with an untreated mental health disorder. Common related disorders include anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, trauma, and ADHD. It’s unknown if the conditions usually cause drug use or vice versa, but dual diagnosis’ are more challenging to overcome and treat.

If an addict seeks treatment for their addiction and the underlying condition goes unnoticed or untreated, the odds of the recovering addict returning to drug use is much higher than if both things were treated simultaneously. DrugAbuse.com reports that nearly 8.9 million Americans have both a mental health and a substance abuse issue. The Substance abuse and Mental Health Administration found that of those 8.9 million people, 55.8% don’t receive treatment for either disease, and only 7.4% get treated for both.

People who suffer from a mental disease are almost two times more likely to turn to illicit drugs than the general public. It’s thought that people with these problems attempt to self-medicate with illegal drugs that are not prescribed nor managed by health professionals. For this reason, self-medication often leads to addiction. The drugs may temporarily relieve the person of the pain they’re suffering due to their anxiety, depression, etc. But when their high wears off, the symptoms of their mental disease could increase and become much worse. They even may be turning to illicit drugs to deal with the side effects that they’re experiencing due to taking medication for their diagnosed mental illness. Attempting to balance medications on his or her own can lead to disaster.

There are even some drugs that are known to cause mental illness after years of abuse. An example of a drug that does this is ecstasy. Overtime, it can alter the chemical makeup of your brain, leaving the user depressed and suffering from anxiety problems. The age at which the user starts abusing drugs is also a factor in the development of mental illness later in their life. A young adults brain is still developing, so when drug use becomes a factor, the brain loses its maximum cognitive and social abilities.

When seeking treatment for addiction, most health professionals will look for signs and symptoms of a mental illness. If one is found, comprehensive treatment for both diseases is an important part of the recovery. Without diagnosing the underlying issue, total recovery cannot be accomplished. Treatment facilities like Nexus diagnose and treat dual-diagnosis situations. Nexus particularly organizes the appropriate professionals to coordinate treatment together so that the patient’s treatment is streamlined. Treatment techniques that Nexus utilizes include:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Motivational enhancement therapy
  • Multidimensional family therapy
  • Psychodynamic therapy
  • Dialectical behavioral therapy
  • Gestalt therapy
  • Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing
  • Art therapy
  • Surf therapy
  • Music therapy
  • Yoga
  • Meditation and mindfulness

Many addicts are misdiagnosed and it usually goes unnoticed because many mental illness symptoms can be easily mistaken for the side effects of taking drugs. With that, if the patient doesn’t know of any history of mental illness, health professionals may not look for it.

No matter when the disease began, before or after the start of drug use, it’s important that it’s properly identified when treatment begins. Nexus assigns professionals to assess new patients when they first come to the facilities for addiction. They’re monitored by health care professionals through the entire length of their stay at the facility.

Recovery should be done the right way in order to reap the best results. Leaving one side of the problem untreated is not an option when it comes to getting sober. Mental disease and addiction goes hand in hand for many patients, and for their own good, it needs to be treated simultaneously.

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