Dual Diagnosis: What Does It Mean?

Dual diagnosis is a term you might hear if you are struggling with a mental health disorder and/or a substance abuse problem. It simply means that one is struggling with two (dual) issues:

  • A mental health disorder
  • A substance abuse disorder

To be diagnosed with both is actually quite common. Many men and women struggling with an addiction to alcohol or a drug also struggle with mental health issues such as depression, bipolar, borderline personality disorder, anxiety disorder, PTSD, and more.

The correlation makes a lot of sense.

For example, let’s say someone is suffering from an anxiety disorder and the only time they feel relaxed and calm is when they are drinking. It loosens them up. It takes the edge off and helps them function at what they consider a normal level.

However, as they continue to depend on alcohol, they run the risk of becoming addicted to it. This adds even more stress upon them, ultimately increasing anxiety. It can also increase the risk of falling into depression, as repetitive drinking tends to bring someone down, rather than up.

What To Treat First: The Addiction or Mental Health Disorder?

The mental health community has various opinions on what to treat first. Do you treat the addiction or the mental health disorder first? A majority treat the addiction first and then focus on any psychiatric issues. The reasoning is that it can be difficult to make progress mentally when alcohol or drugs are clouding judgment and controlling one’s life.

Granted, it may take some time to get free from substance abuse. In fact, some drugs may need to be weaned off of, rather than stopped cold turkey. In this case, professionals can still treat both substance abuse and any emotional or mental health issues.

In other words, you don’t necessarily have to be completely free from substance abuse before being treated for mental health issues.

It is reported by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) that about half of the men and women who struggle with severe mental health disorders also struggle with an addiction to alcohol, drugs, or both. In addition, 53 percent of those addicted to drugs and 37 percent of those addicted to alcohol wrestle with a mental health disorder. Experts also state that the homeless population struggles with dual diagnosis issues much of the time, with some estimating 50 percent.

With dual diagnosis being so common, most mental health agencies and rehabs are now offering helpful substance abuse services to address mental health and substance abuse disorders. Working on getting free from the addiction first and then counselling to get to the root of the mental health disorder is serving people well.

For example, if you struggle with alcoholism and head to a detox and rehab center, it is important that you first stop drinking and detox from the alcohol. Then, when you begin to get clear in your head, you can begin counselling for any mental health disorder you may be struggling with. It can be challenging to treat the mental health disorder before the substance abuse issue.

Treatment Options For Dual Diagnosis

If addiction is an issue, it’s best to attend a treatment center that understands and treats addiction. If you believe there are some underlying emotional or mental health issues, find a treatment center or residential rehab that caters to both addiction and disorders.

You’ll want to receive integrated treatment, which means you’ll get treatment for both the substance abuse and mental health issue at the same facility. Usually, a team of professionals will come up with a coordinated approach for treatment that will foster freedom from addiction and counselling for the mental health disorder.

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Into Action Recovery Society Residential Treatment Program

Here at Into Action Recovery Society, we offer compassionate, personalized treatment for addiction and mental health disorders. We’re staffed with some of the best substance abuse and mental health clinicians who will help you learn the most effective tools for getting your life back.

We offer phases of treatment to increase your likelihood of a complete recovery from substance abuse.

The “First Stage Residential Program” is a 60-day program for men struggling with addiction. The program lasts two months, where you’ll receive excellent treatment and live in a home-like atmosphere that’s safe, aesthetically pleasing, and comfortable. It’s designed to help you feel like you’re at home.

The next phase of treatment, should you choose, is our “Second Stage Transitional Program”. This phase gives you an additional 30 days to strengthen your recovery foundation with accountability and structure. You will continue living at the program house, and if you work or attend school, you are able to leave to attend and then come back to the program afterwards.

For those who may not feel ready to integrate back into their own home, we offer Long-Term Sober Living. Here, you can continue to live in a structured home-like atmosphere until you feel strong enough to get out there with your own apartment or home.

All our programs incorporate treatment modalities that help you with your unique needs and goals, such as:

  • Individual counselling
  • Assessment for mental health disorders
  • Recovery from trauma
  • Classes about addiction and recovery
  • Life skills training
  • Relapse prevention skill training
  • Conflict resolution skills
  • Communication skills
  • Group therapy
  • 12 Step and/or support groups

You Deserve A Life Free From Addiction

We are committed to helping you get free from addiction and manage/overcome mental health issues. It takes time and dedication, but it’s worth the investment. You’re worth the investment, as you deserve to live the kind of life you truly desire. Overcoming an addiction to alcohol or another drug may not be as tough as you think. There are plenty of effective treatments and professionals available to help you.

Feel free to contact us today with any questions or concerns. We’d be happy to assist you with taking your first steps toward life.

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If you need help or have any questions about us contact us right away.

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