In many instances, individuals suffering from mental disorders turn to alcohol and drug abuse. This further compounds the situation, thus leading to a scenario whereby the individual having a mental disorder develops alcohol and drug dependency. This medical situation is known as dual diagnosis. However it is prudent to note that dual diagnosis is treatable, if the right treatment strategy is employed.
An important fact to note about dual diagnosis is that many substance abuse treatment facilities in the country do not possess the expertise to offer mental disorder treatments. However there is a growing number of dual diagnosis treatment centers aimed at helping dual diagnosis individuals.
Research shows that more than a quarter of alcohol abusers have more than one mental illness. In addition to that, more than 50% of drug abusers have at least one mental illness. There are different kinds of illnesses exhibited by people with mental problems. These illnesses can be categorized into depressive disorders, anxiety disorders and other psychiatric disorders. Depressive disorders include bipolar disorders and depression.
Anxiety disorders include panic disorders, phobias and obsessive compulsive disorders among others. The third category of disorders includes personality disorders and schizophrenia among others. It is prudent to note that in many instances, the emotional problem develops first.
Often, someone with a mental illness seeking to feel happier and calmer will begin to use of alcohol and drugs, in what is termed “self-medication”. Frequent and prolonged self-medication in turn leads to physical and psychological dependency on alcohol and drugs. In other instances, however, drug or alcohol dependency is the primary condition. Often, it can be difficult to distinguish which condition is primary.
This condition leads to mental disorder e.g. depression, hallucinations and psychosis, as the individual becomes more dependent on the alcohol and drugs. Due to the fact that it is difficult to assess whether emotional disorder or substance abuse is the primary condition, a dual diagnosis individual must undergo withdrawal during detoxification so as to help the physician determine the nature of the problem.
During dual diagnosis treatment, the patient will first undergo detoxification which entails the removal of alcohol or drug toxins from the user’s body. As seen above, during detoxification, the individual will likely develop withdrawal symptoms which are treated medically. Detoxification is potentially dangerous; hence it should be done under medical supervision.
There are various types of detoxifications. Common types of detoxification include sauna detoxification and medical detoxification. Detoxification may take a few days to a number of weeks. The length of the detoxification program is dependent upon the patient’s general health and the extent of their addiction.
The next step after detoxification entails dual treatment. Dual diagnosis treatment takes two forms. The first form of dual treatment focuses on helping the addict overcome their alcohol and drug dependency. This is done in various ways which include individual and group therapy, pharmacotherapy, and 12-step facilitation therapy among others. The second form of dual diagnosis treatment entails treating the mental disorder of the individual. This treatment involves the use of occupational therapy, expressive therapy and group therapy among others. However, it is prudent for an individual with dual diagnosis to ensure that they enroll in a treatment facility offering integrated treatment.