A number of adults are dealing with co-occurring illnesses — 7.9 million to be exact, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. For individuals with a co-occurring illness, this means they struggle with either multiple mental health disorders or multiple drug addictions or a combination of both. For example, a person who has both obsessive-compulsive disorder and schizophrenia has a dual diagnosis. The presence of depression and alcoholism is another type of dual diagnosis, or alcoholism and opioid addiction. Often times, one illness exacerbates the other.
Unfortunately, if a person with co-occurring illness seeks treatment, they might only be diagnosed with one illness and only get treatment for that. This can lead to problems down the road, such as when a person with a drug addiction successfully goes through rehab, only to have their undiagnosed mental health illness lead them to repeated relapse. This can be an extremely frustrating and something dangerous cycle.
In order for an individual to successfully recover from a dual diagnosis, both illnesses must be treated at the same time. This is called dual diagnosis treatment.
About Dual Diagnosis Treatment
Depending on a patient’s dual diagnosis, their treatment may include a combination of medication, detox and therapy. No two patients will respond to the same treatment plan, so each recovery program should be tailored to meet their needs.
Detox Treatment: Detox, also known as detoxification, is the process in which an individual lessens or reduces drug and/or alcohol use to remove the drugs and toxins from their bodies. Detoxing should not be done “cold turkey,” as the symptoms of withdrawal can be difficult for a person to handle without risking relapse. Some symptoms of withdrawal can even be life threatening, so medical supervision is a must.
Medication: For those going through a detox, medication will be provided to help with withdrawal symptoms. For those with mental health disorders, medication such as antidepressants, antipsychotics and mood stabilizers can help combat the physical effects of mental health illnesses and stabilize a person’s brain chemistry. These can often stop the worst of a patient’s symptoms so they can then focus on therapy and recovery.
Therapy: For those living with mental health issues and/or addiction, therapy is key in helping them recover, cope on bad days and learn how to live their life without their illnesses taking over their life. There are multiple types of therapy options, including individual therapy, group therapy, process groups, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), expressive arts therapy and yoga.
Most if not all of these treatment options are available to different levels of care provided by Sovereign Health. A patient’s level of care will depend on their treatment plan. They may need partial hospitalization, an intensive outpatient program, or residential treatment.