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The term dual diagnosis refers to an individual who not only suffers from a drug and/or alcohol addiction but a mental illness as well. Since mental challenges can make it difficult to treat addiction, and vice versa, disclosing all personal information during the intake process is important for the experts at Addiction Rehab Austin to construct an effective dual diagnosis treatment plan.

Identifying and Explaining Dual Diagnoses

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), an estimated one-third of all people with a mental illness also have a substance abuse problem.

A dual diagnosis is extremely common and may occur in a number of ways. For instance, one may initially develop a mental health disorder and subsequently turn to drugs or alcohol as a means to self-medicate or soothe the symptoms of the condition. Others may begin to abuse dangerous substances, which, in turn, may causes mental health problems, such as anxiety or depression. On the other hand, substance abuse affects brain chemistry, which can sometimes lead to neurotransmitter imbalances that trigger mental health conditions. Regardless of what caused this relationship to occur in you or a loved one, a dual diagnosis can make treating both illnesses much more difficult.

Mental health disorders that commonly occur with substance abuse include:

  • Depression – a condition that causes an individual to experience negative feelings, such as extreme sadness and hopelessness.
  • Anxiety – a condition where an individual experiences extreme distress and/or fear.
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) – a condition experienced by individuals who have been abused, involved in military conflicts, or have survived a natural disaster.
  • Eating disorders – a condition that involves an individual who suffers from anorexia, bulimia or binge eating.
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) – a condition where an individual experiences obsessive behaviors and/or thoughts.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment

There are certain groups of individuals who are more likely to suffer from both a mental health disorder and substance abuse addiction. According to NAMI, this includes men, those with a high number of chronic medical illnesses, military veterans, and those with a lower socioeconomic status.

There is a vast amount of treatment approaches for individuals with a dual diagnosis. The experts at Addiction Rehab Austin combine a number of methods, specific for each client, most likely to enables him or her to create a lifestyle for themselves, devoid of drugs and alcohol in the long term. Treatment examples include:

  • Psychopharmacology: Doctors will most likely prescribe medications to those experiencing mood or psychotic disorders. These treatments will be utilized in conjunction with other treatments, such as therapy.
  • Psychotherapy: This involves individual, group, and family therapies along with relapse prevention therapy and arts, exercise, and spiritual therapies.
  • Behavioral Management: This type of therapy is designed to help clients learn positive and effective behaviors, other than abusing substances to cope with the hardships of addiction.

Aftercare, like support group meetings and ongoing therapy, is also an important aspect to the success of a dual diagnosis recovery. Those who choose to forgo or withdraw from aftercare have a significantly higher chance of relapse in the future.