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Substance Abuse & Co-Occurring Mental Illness

True Dual-Diagnosis Treatment in California

In the United States, approximately 23.5 million people struggle with substance abuse issues and addiction. That’s about one in every 10 Americans over the age of 12. At the same time, almost 43.8 million Americans suffer from some form of mental illness. Falling in between these two categories—people who suffer from a substance abuse issue and a mental illness—are about 7.9 million U.S. citizens who have what’s called “Dual Diagnosis,” or “Co-Occurring Disorders.”

If you suffer from a mood disorder as well as a drug or alcohol addiction, it is critical that you partake in an integrated treatment program that addresses both these issues.

The Importance of Mental Health

What is Dual-Diagnosis Treatment?

Patients who receive a Dual Diagnosis suffer from a simultaneously occurring substance abuse and mental health disorder. In some cases, one condition precedes and leads to the other, but often they arise independently of each other.

A Dual Diagnosis can be especially pernicious because one disease—depression, for instance—typically makes the other disease, such as alcoholism, significantly worse. The symptoms will compound and make patients feel the negative effects of each disease in a more intense way than they otherwise might. For this reason, those who receive a Dual Diagnosis should enter a dual diagnosis treatment facility as soon as possible to begin the process of recovery.  

  • According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, in a given year around 7.9 million Americans receive a Dual Diagnosis. Over half—around 4.1 million—are men.
  • Sadly, over 50% of those who suffer from a Dual Diagnosis never receive treatment for their illnesses
  • Less than 15% of Americans who receive a Dual Diagnosis residential treatment typically receive the integrated Dual Diagnosis treatment that’s necessary to achieve a full recovery

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Understanding Dual-Diagnosis

Types of Dual-Diagnosis Disorders

Of the mental health disorders that are most commonly coupled with a substance abuse disorder, the 8 most common include bipolar disorder, PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder), depression, anxiety disorder, panic disorder, OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder), ADHD, and schizophrenia.

In the majority of cases, bipolar disorder is coupled with alcohol or cocaine use; post-traumatic stress is associated with alcohol or benzodiazepines use; anxiety is linked with alcohol, benzodiazepines, or cocaine; ADHD is usually paired with alcohol or a stimulant drug; OCD is often grouped with marijuana or alcohol; depression is most often associated with alcohol abuse; schizophrenia is often linked to stimulants, which may include nicotine and caffeine, and panic disorder is most often associated with alcohol abuse or the improper use of medications like benzodiazepines.

While these are the most common combinations, there are variations that exist beyond the limitations of this list.

Identifying a case of Dual Diagnosis can be tricky. The symptoms associated with a single drug abuse issue or a mental health problem are often intense and can mask the symptoms of a second health condition. This can be problematic because it’s imperative to treat a dually diagnosed patient for both of their illnesses. Treating one without treating the other can make the recovery process both lengthy and difficult.

In many cases, while making their diagnosis for a single issue, doctors will notice that mental health symptoms are more intense than normal. This is generally the red flag which leads to a Dual Diagnosis. They will then extrapolate the symptoms and try to determine which mental issue the patient might be simultaneously suffering from so they can devise the right treatment plan.

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What to Look for in a Detox Program

The Do's & Don'ts of an Intervention

Treating a Dual Diagnosis can be complicated, but just because there are additional challenges  doesn’t mean that they should be skipped over. Someone who suffers from mental health conditions as well as an alcohol or drug addiction will need individualized treatment for their specific issues. The first thing patients should know is that they may need to see more than one doctor and attend more than one support group. These doctors and support groups specialize in a single illness, and can better help patients target root issues.

Treatment for mental health issues typically involve counseling, psychotherapy, and attending support groups which help build a nurturing and encouraging network of people. Treating the substance abuse problem is generally a two-step process. In the first, patients are assisted through the often-challenging detox and withdrawal process. The second step is recovery, which involves therapy and support groups in the form of inpatient or outpatient treatment. 

In many cases, private insurers offer coverage for both mental health and substance abuse treatment. However, policies differ from person to person and may include one but not the other. Employee insurance may also cover these two diseases, but again the extent of the coverage is at the discretion of the policyholder, who is typically the boss.  Because it can be difficult to fully parse your insurance policy, many affordable dual diagnosis residential treatment centers keep an insurance expert on retainer to help patients navigate their policy.

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How to Help Your Loved One

Who Doesn't Want Help

It can be difficult to watch someone you love struggle with simultaneous, challenging illnesses. The best thing anyone can do is to educate themselves, to the best of their ability, about the issues that the loved one might be facing. Extensive research will help an individual determine the best way to approach their loved one, the things they should say and not say, and how to suggest individualized addiction treatment.

It’s also important to stay optimistic. In many cases, negativity can drive an individual deeper into their problems. Remember that both illnesses, while they are undoubtedly severe, are treatable, and can be cured. And both must be treated if that’s to occur.

If you are looking for a dual diagnosis treatment center in California, LARN is here to help day & night with our dual-diagnosis programs.

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If you or a loved-one is struggling with a drug or alcohol problem the team at Lake Arrowhead Recovery Network can help. We’ve been there. Our certified advisors will help you find the best program that fits your unique needs. Get a FREE insurance benefits check or call now to speak to someone.