Dual-Diagnosis Treatment: Is It For You?

If you are struggling with drug abuse and/or addiction, there’s a good chance that you are also struggling with your mental health. This does not mean that there is anything wrong with your mind, but it does mean that you may have a chemical imbalance causing depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder or any other number of mental illnesses that may lead to drug abuse. And recognizing this is a good thing, because it means you actually have more treatment options!

Don’t worry — you are far from alone. In fact, addiction itself is now recognized as a mental illness, albeit one that often coincides with others. According to the National Institute on Mental Health, approximately 8 million American adults suffer from both a substance use disorder and another mental illness. In fact, they are often called “co-occurring disorders” as a result, and individuals with a mental illness have been found to be more susceptible to addiction in the first place. 

As a result, increasing focus is being placed on “dual-diagnosis treatment“, or rather, treatment that gives priority to both addiction and the mental disorders linked with it. Studies are finding that addiction and drug abuse relapse rates are lower when mental illness is treated in conjunction. While each case is different and your specific needs may vary, dual-diagnosis treatment may nevertheless be just the thing that helps you finally learn to overcome drug abuse and regain control of your life. 

What Exactly Is Dual-Diagnosis Treatment?

Any form of addiction combined with mental illness can be considered for dual-diagnosis treatment. Depression and anxiety disorder remain the most common mental illnesses that can both result in addiction (alcohol, drugs, gambling, etc.) and be worsened by ongoing abuse. 

When you enter rehab for dual-diagnosis care, your addiction will usually be addressed first. This is because many addictions can be life-threatening and/or result in serious health risks, but as can stopping drug abuse cold turkey. For your health and safety, it is therefore crucial that the initial stages of treatment (including detox depending on the substances you’re abusing) be under the supervision and guidance of experienced addiction professionals and medical staff. 

Once detox has taken place and the actual drug abuse ends (you are no longer introducing substances into your system), the mental health aspect can be treated. Treatment of depression and other kinds of disorders will primarily consist of one-on-one counseling and group therapy, but the use of medication may be included as well in more severe cases. You will also be able to participate in outings and other activities to help improve your mental health status as a whole and give you a fresh new perspective on life. 

Why Dual-Diagnosis Is Effective

Dual-diagnosis remains effective for a multitude of reasons. First and foremost, the goal here is to not simply treat the addiction and get the patient through detox, but to address why the patient began their drug abuse (or other unhealthy activities) in the first place. By doing so, the patient can leave treatment more confident, more complete and better equipped to cope with future challenges. 

Overall, there are many effective reasons to consider dual-diagnosis care:

  • Go beyond just physical symptoms – Regular detox programs only focus on the physical problem, but dual-diagnosis finds the link between the physical dependency and the mental illness that is worsening it. 
  • Longer treatment – Dual-diagnosis typically spans a longer period of time than regular addiction treatment, but this also means the patient can progress at a pace more comfortable to them and will have a lower likelihood of relapse as a result. 
  • Dual-diagnosis teaches coping skills – There is much debate over whether addiction and mental illness can ever fully be cured, but with dual-diagnosis, the patient can get to the root causes of both and learn to recognize their triggers. 
  • Understanding and acceptance of self – Dual-diagnosis patients have the unique opportunity to better understand themselves and how their mind operates. This leads to greater self-acceptance and the ability to take back control of their life. 

Where to Get Dual-Diagnosis Treatment

We offer dual-diagnosis, detox, and drug rehab at Enlight Treatment Center in Moorpark, CA. Our programs are tailored to the individual in order to meet your specific addiction and mental health needs. Once detox is achieved, the focus on overall health (including mental) can begin. As with any advanced dual-diagnosis treatment, the focus here is on improving both addiction and related mental illness, as well as teaching important coping methods that can be used for both long into the future. Long-term recovery is always the ultimate goal. 

If you’re suffering from addiction and/or drug abuse, don’t wait to get in touch with us. The time to regain control of your life is now. Contact us today!

Co-Occurring Disorders: Addiction and Bipolar Disorder

It is difficult enough to come to terms with addiction in our lives. But sometimes, that is not all that is keeping us from experiencing a high quality of life. Some of us have a co-occurring disorder, also known as dual diagnosis. The most common dual diagnosis is an addiction and bipolar disorder. If we treat only the addiction, then the bipolar disorder will likely impact our recovery and vice versa.

Stigma: A Stumbling Block to Treatment

There is plenty of stigma about addiction. Even in the year 2019, movies, the media, and social media often paint a very denigrating picture of people who struggle with addiction. However perhaps even more crippling is the stigma around mental illness. Even for people who don’t place immediate judgment when we tell them we have bipolar disorder, depression, or some other mental illness, there is little education about mental illness or how to help someone struggling with it. People just don’t know what to say or do to help.

Despite the fact that the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) reports that as many as one in five people suffers from a mental illness, there is still more fear than understanding amongst the general public. That changes every time we read or learn more about mental illness, and every time we are willing to speak up for ourselves and our loved ones and educate others. Bipolar disorder isn’t a mark of shame, it’s a serious medical condition that impacts “normal” people like you and me.

What is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder is a mood disorder in which the person experiences periods of both mania and depression, or “highs” and “lows.” These periods can last from a few days to weeks, months or even years. There can also be periods of “normalcy.”

Studies still continue as to exactly what goes on in the brain to cause the chemical imbalance which impacts our mood and behavior so significantly. A simple version of what happens in the brain is that serotonin levels are not properly regulated, which then inhibits normal function. Much like diabetes is a disease where so much is impacted by the body’s inability to produce or regulate insulin, bipolar disorder is where normal brain function is impacted by the inability to regulate serotonin.

There are different types of bipolar disorder, based on types of manic and depressed episodes. Everyone is different, some people suffer from chronic and debilitating depression, with only short spells of normalcy or some level of mania. Some people hardly have any depression, others never have a true manic episode, but rather experience hypomania.

Hypomania is a period of time that can span from days to weeks in which the mood is elevated, there is less need for sleep, and these episodes are often filled with high productivity. However, there are often impulsive or risk-taking behaviors, especially spending or unusual sexual activity. However, some people are more irritable and angry when they have hypomania. A true manic episode is similar but more extreme, and often people exhibit a greater distance from reality and there is a higher risk of harm to self or others. For example, some people may think they can fly or do things that aren’t physically possible.

Depression is a little more well known and is more common within bipolar disorder. In fact, many patients are diagnosed with depression only, without realizing that the times that they felt a little too good were actually hypomanic episodes. This is a challenge because treatments for depression can actually worsen symptoms of bipolar disorder. Depression is more than just feeling sad, in fact, many people don’t feel anything at all. It is typically a period of time for more than a few days in which the person feels lethargic, tired, experiences less interest in things, and more. It is a physical condition, not just an emotional reaction to life events, even if some depression is brought on by outside triggers.

How Common is an Addiction and Bipolar Dual Diagnosis?

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), up to 50 percent of people with bipolar disorder will develop a substance use disorder in their lifetime. People with co-occurring bipolar and addiction have the additional challenges of being less likely to respond to treatment and suffering from increased bipolar symptoms, such as higher highs and lower lows. Frighteningly, those of us with co-occurring bipolar disorder and addiction show more instances of hospitalizations and suicide attempts as well.

The most frustrating part of dual diagnosis is that so many of the symptoms are overlapping, so it takes a trained professional to properly make this diagnosis and provide the appropriate treatment. Both substances and treatment can worsen both the bipolar disorder and the addiction, and one of the symptoms of bipolar disorder is denial, which makes it even harder to get help.

The good news is that there is a solution. For someone battling on both fronts, there are places who understand and can help with co-occurring addiction and bipolar disorder. Enlight has the experience and support needed to help. If you or your loved one believe that there might be more than just addiction going on, call us today at (805) 719-7954 to speak to one of our admissions experts.