For millions of people, mental health disorders are a daily battle. For some, the use of drugs and alcohol seems to be the only way to minimize their symptoms. When a person has both conditions – mental health disorders and substance use disorders – it’s called a co-occurring disorder. Treating both of these conditions at the same time is critical. That type of treatment is called a dual diagnosis program. Why is this necessary? What can you expect from it?
How Co-Occurring Disorders Happen
A person with this type of mental health condition may not know it’s occurring. In some situations, a mental health disorder happens first. A person develops a disorder such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, or post-traumatic stress disorder. That condition creates symptoms in their life, leading to their need to turn to drugs or alcohol as a type of self-medication. For example, a person with anxiety may learn that using alcohol can help to calm the mind and minimize some of the worries they feel. Other times, a person may have no symptoms of a mental health disorder until they start using drugs and alcohol. Once they do start using those substances, the symptoms of mental health disorders begin to appear. This may be due to a hormone imbalance or a genetic factor. In both situations, no matter which comes first, treatment for both has to happen at the same time to ensure the best outcome.
How Do You Know You Need Help for This Comorbidity?
It’s not always easy to know when there is a problem. Some of the most common signs of a co-occurring disorder include:
- Using drugs to deal with stress
- Turning to alcohol or drugs to reduce negative thoughts or anxious feelings
- Needing to use substances as a way to deal with past trauma or flashbacks from past trauma
- Feeling intense anxiety or depression when not using these substances
- Feeling out of control when not using substances
When this happens, seeking out substance abuse treatment becomes critical. It can save a person’s life and improve their overall mental wellbeing.
Treatment For Co-Occurring Disorder Works Well to Reclaim Life
Treating both conditions at one time in dual diagnosis treatment is very effective when done properly and in a professional setting. This can lead to a wide range of improvements. Most of the time, this type of treatment will include:
- Medications to help with the mental health treatment needs to help balance symptoms of mental health disorders
- Medications may be helpful at reducing the impact of withdrawal symptoms and cravings that many have as a result of addiction
- Nutritional therapy may be necessary to help a person heal physically from the addiction’s damage
- Psychotherapy helps with both management of mental health disorders and addiction
- Group and family therapy can help to support the ongoing needs a person has and enable a person to recognize there are others going through the same thing.
Sober Living & Mental Health Services
Through a range of treatments and therapy, a person with these conditions can find the help they need. That help is not just to stop feeling emotions or never to have to deal with stress again. Instead, it is to provide stress management techniques and aiding in improving relationships. It can help to restore a person’s self-confidence and provide tools to deal with the triggers they may feel from time to time.
With substance abuse treatment and mental health treatment, a person feels more capable of overcoming the challenges they face. Both of these conditions can be well-managed in the right situation with ample support and guidance. However, it’s always important to invest wisely in a treatment center that can help with dual diagnosis as not all offer the same level of support and guidance in this area.