Dual diagnosis is a therapeutic methodology that has been around for nearly 20 years as a way to treat co-occurring disorders. Co-occurring disorders means a person suffers from a mental health disorder and a substance use disorder, so dual diagnosis was developed to address both issues simultaneously rather than separately.
Mental health disorders that tend to co-occur with substance use disorders include:
- Anxiety disorders
- Borderline personality disorder
- Bipolar disorder
- Disordered eating
Often a person with a mental health disorder may develop the habit of using substances like alcohol or drugs to deal with the symptoms they are experiencing, and this leads to a cyclical issue that requires individualized and comprehensive treatment.
What is Dual Diagnosis for Co-Occurring Disorders
Dual diagnosis rehab programs are vital to helping people with co-occurring disorders because treating the mental health disorder without addressing the substance use problems will not solve the problem, and vice versa. Separate programs or even separate doctors treating the mental health and substance use disorders can become problematic and ineffective for patients who need integrated care.
Dual diagnosis is designed to simultaneously treat mental health disorders like depression or anxiety while managing the substance use disorder. Because these conditions often go hand-in-hand, it is critical to treat them as if they were one condition.
Often a mental health condition like major depressive disorder or PTSD can lead a person to begin abusing a substance to self-medicate and cope with difficult emotions. As a result, the substance use disorder develops and exacerbates the mental health disorder as the brain is rewired chemically by the substance, rendering mental health treatments ineffective.
If a person who is already progressing from substance abuse to addiction receives treatment for the mental health condition, this will not succeed in stopping the addictive behavior because the person may have already developed a dependence on the substance. This can continue in a cycle in which the addiction and mental health disorder aggravate each other.
Dual diagnosis exists to stop the cycle. When healthcare providers can treat the mental health condition and the substance addiction at the same time, the individual with co-occurring disorders can heal more effectively and work towards recovery.
Dual Diagnosis Treatment
A dual diagnosis program will use a range of treatment modalities to address co-occurring disorders with the intention of treating the underlying cause of the addiction, which is often the mental health condition that may or may not have been diagnosed.
The first step to dual diagnosis treatment is diagnosing both disorders. Then, through a combination of talk therapies like CBT and DBT, psychotherapies like EMDR, medication-assisted treatment, and holistic therapies like yoga and meditation, the treatment team at the facility can begin to help the individual to understand their condition better and manage it.
Addressing past traumas, treating the mental health disorder with medication and talk therapy, establishing healthy sleep hygiene, diet, exercise and stress management practices—all of these are key elements of a dual diagnosis treatment plan that will get at the root of the substance use disorder and treat the mental health disorder.
Dual Diagnosis Treatment Center
Therapists must be trained in integrated treatment to provide dual diagnosis to patients who are affected by co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders. However, not every rehab facility is a dual diagnosis treatment center, so it is important to find a center that can address comorbidities during the program.
DreamLife Recovery works with a talented and compassionate team of addiction treatment providers who are trained in dual diagnosis programs and understand how co-occurring disorders can be more challenging to treat. Our programs are patient-centered meaning each individual who stays with us for treatment will receive a comprehensive evaluation and personalized recovery plan that best suits their needs.
We use evidence-based therapies and believe in medication-assisted treatment to address each person’s conditions effectively with modalities like CBT, DBT, and EMDR and medications that have been proven to treat mental health conditions and substance use disorders.