It’s not uncommon for those who struggle with addiction to also have related mental health disorders. For example, someone who’s dealing with alcoholism might also struggle with depression, anxiety, or PTSD.
The relationship between addiction and other mental health conditions—called co-occurring disorders—is complicated. What’s more, it can make effective treatment rather difficult. That’s where dual diagnosis comes in.
Dual diagnosis care is focused on treating addiction and any co-occurring disorders, simultaneously. In this post, we’ll look a little closer at what dual diagnosis is, and how it might help those who are struggling.
The Relationship Between Addiction and Co-Occurring Disorders
The first thing to understand is the knotty relationship between addiction and related mental health disorders.
Sometimes, addiction and co-occurring disorders have the same root cause—for example, an imbalance in brain chemistry can lead to both depression and addiction.
In other circumstances, a condition like anxiety or PTSD leads an individual to self-medicate with drugs or alcohol, resulting in a full-fledged problem with addiction.
It’s not always easy to untangle this relationship, but dual diagnosis provides a good starting point.
The Difficulties in Dual Diagnosis
Because the relationship between addiction and co-occurring mental health disorders is so twisted, effective treatment can be difficult.
For example, the effects of drug addiction may be so pronounced that they obscure the symptoms of depression or anxiety. A clinician might treat for addiction but never do anything about the underlying mental health issues—meaning they don’t really get to the root of the problem.
Dual diagnosis is something different: It’s a way for clinicians to get to the heart of the matter, not just treating external symptoms but treating the root issues. As such, it’s the best way to receive total freedom from addiction and from other mental health concerns.
The Dual Diagnosis Process
What does dual diagnosis actually entail, however? A big part of it is right there in the name—diagnosis. In dual diagnosis care, the individual will meet with a mental health specialist who can offer a specific take on what’s really going on—diagnosing both the addiction and any co-occurring disorders.
From there, a custom treatment plan is developed. The goal here is to provide freedom from addiction while also offering the necessary mental health services—empowering the individual to live a life of health, happiness, and wholeness.
Dual Diagnosis Treatment
In other words, dual diagnosis care includes therapeutic intervention both for the addiction and for any other underlying health disorders— an intervention that might include:
- One-one-one sessions with a counselor or therapist
- Group therapy sessions
- Medication (particularly for things like depression, insomnia, etc.)
- Life skills development
- The development of a relapse prevention plan
Again, the goal here is to equip the individual for a happy and healthy life—free from addiction, and with any other mental health disorders properly taken care of.
Learn More About Dual Diagnosis from Experience Recovery
If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, and you believe there are underlying mental health concerns, it’s important to seek the appropriate care—and that means dual diagnosis treatment.
Experience Recovery is proud to offer a full spectrum of addiction recovery services to individuals throughout the Orange County, California area. We offer dual diagnosis care and are here for those whose addiction dovetails with additional mental health concerns.
To learn more about dual diagnosis, or to speak with an admissions representative about all the available options, we invite you to contact Experience Recovery at your next convenience.