Decades ago, doctors, mental health professionals, and drug treatment specialists noticed that many individuals combating addiction also had a mental health disorder. At that time, it was standard procedure to deny treatment for one disorder until the other was treated, leading to a cycle of addiction and mental problems for many people. Those who suffer from co-existing disorders are said to have a dual diagnosis.
Denver Drug Treatment Centers understand the complexities of these conditions, and can provide the proper dual diagnosis treatment once a thorough evaluation has been conducted.
It wasn’t until relatively recently that medical and drug treatment professionals realized that anyone suffering from co-morbid addiction and mental health disorders needed both treated at the same time in order to get healthy. This concept of dual diagnosis, or having more than one disorder at the same time, has led to significant advances in drug and mental health treatments.
Before this realization, anyone who wanted to receive treatment for a mental health disorder had to first treat his/her addiction, and anyone who wanted to have an addiction treated may have been forced into a mental health facility. The problem is that treating one disorder without concurrently treating the other is setting the individual up to fail. An untreated mental health disorder may lead to substance abuse and addiction, and an untreated addiction may be a sign of a mental disorder. The understanding that addiction and mental health disorders often occur at the same time has opened up treatment strategies that are more likely to lead to the successful treatment of both.
Specifically, dual diagnosis is the recognition that mental health disorders and addictions frequently occur at the same time, the identification of both disorders as part of the diagnostic process, and the concurrent treatment of both disorders as part of a comprehensive treatment plan.
Many, many people with mental health disorders self-medicate in order to feel better. This tendency to self-medicate often leads to addiction. Treating the mental health problem means that the individual no longer needs to self-medicate, therefore helping him/her end the addiction cycle. Self-medication may be because of a serious or less serious chronic mental health condition. For instance, someone who experiences anxiety in social situations may abuse alcohol to feel more relaxed. Here are a few of the most common dual diagnosis conditions:
Although it is often difficult to determine which came first – the mental health disorder – or the addiction, treatment professionals agree that is it imperative to treat both disorders to give the individual the best chance of success. Dual diagnosis treatment may include simple stress reduction strategies or anti-anxiety medications for anxiety disorders, pain management for combat veterans with PTSD addicted to opiates, or antidepressants for the heroin addict suffering from depression. Giving those who self-medicate an alternative to addictive drugs leads to better mental health management in addition to better overall health.
The first step in any dual diagnosis treatment program is always detoxification. Inpatient detoxification may provide additional benefits, especially for those with co-morbid mental health and addiction disorders. The reason for this is that people who are suffering from addiction need to safely go through withdrawal, and those suffering from a serious mental health disorder may need immediate medical management of their symptoms. An inpatient treatment facility can provide both at the same time.