What is Dual-Diagnosis Treatment for Addiction?

After years of stigmatization and considering addicts to merely be weak in character and will, we now know that addiction is actually a disease. In fact, the definition most widely agreed upon a state that addiction is a chronic relapsing disorder in which individuals become chemically dependent due to compulsive seeking and consumption of alcohol or drugs. This view is commonly referred to as the disease model of addiction, which goes so far as to suggest that the causes of addiction are biological, genetic, neurological, and environmental in origin. Additionally, this contemporary medical model acknowledges that addiction in some individuals might be the result of some other psychological, sociological, or biological condition of which there are mechanisms, correlations, or causation that require further research and investigation.

To put this more simply, the disease model of addiction both acknowledges addiction as a disease while also acknowledging that addiction has a variety of complicated relationships with a person’s experiences, physical and mental health, and which could be related to one or more of a number of other afflictions. This view is likely because addiction affects addicts in many different ways, triggering adverse changes in physical, mental, emotional, and even social health; since the disease has such a variety of negative effects, it seems understandable and expectable that addiction would have a variety of contributors and complicated origins. Due to the frequently with which individuals suffer from both addiction and some other disorder, many experts in the field believe that the disease of addiction could have some sort of relationship or correlation with other conditions, further complicating our understanding of an already complicated affliction.

Whatever the reason and causes for addicts’ suffering, the fact remains that there are many individuals who begin rehabilitation in a treatment program due to suffering from addiction while also suffering from some other disorder. The needs of these types of patients—those who suffer from addiction and one or more other disorders or conditions—are more extensive and complicated than those individuals needing treatment solely for the disease of addiction. As such, there is a particular type of treatment intended for these individuals who need support for a substance abuse disorder and others, and it’s important to incorporate treatment for additional diagnoses into recovery treatment for many reasons. Before we can understand the benefits, we must first answer this question: What is dual-diagnosis treatment?

Treatment and Support for Dual-Diagnosis Patients

In short, dual-diagnosis treatment most often refers to treatment for individuals who suffer from a mental disorder in addition to addiction, which is classified as a “substance abuse disorder” in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). Dual-diagnosis treatment is a relatively new type of treatment in the recovery field, having only been offered to patients suffering from addiction as well as another disorder since the 1990s. Before dual-diagnosis treatments were offered, addicts who suffered from a mental disorder were denied psychological treatments until they got clean and sober, which meant compromising the recovery of many of these individuals since it’s common for substance abuse to be perpetuated by either untreated or inadequately treated mental or emotional disorders.

Dual-diagnosis treatments began appearing once we began to better understand addiction as a disease of the mind and body. However, since the acceptance of addiction as a disease, there’s been a continued chicken-or-the-egg debate in the psychiatric, medical, and health fields regarding substance abuse and mental disorders; specifically, it’s uncertain whether substance abuse can lead to the development of mental disorders, whether mental disorders lead to substance abuse, or—perhaps most likely—if it can happen either way. Whether it turns out to be one way or the other, this means that treatment of mental and emotional disorders would have to be incorporated into recovery treatment for individuals who suffer from an additional diagnosis so that their recovery isn’t compromised by the failure to treatment conditions that were either the cause or the product of addiction.

Instead of distinguishing psychiatric disorders from addiction, today’s dual-diagnosis treatment programs offer support for both as part of a single continuum, allowing individuals who suffer from addiction and a mental or emotional disorder to receive substance abuse treatment and mental health care from a single program. The most common comorbid, or co-occurring, disorders that are treated alongside addiction in dual-diagnosis programs include bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, anxiety disorders, depression, personality disorders, and other mental and emotional disorders. As part of a dual-diagnosis patient’s addiction treatment, he or she will receive parallel treatment for the mental or emotional disorder as well, which can include psychotherapy, psychotropic medications such as antidepressants and antianxiety medications, a reinforcing approach that boosts confidence and self-esteem, group treatment with other dual-diagnosis patients, and an inclusive treatment strategy in which the individual’s family, friends, spouses, and other loved ones are included in treatments.

The Importance of Dual-Diagnosis Support in Addiction Treatment

For individuals who suffer from a psychiatric disorder alongside addiction to alcohol and drugs, dual-diagnosis support can be the difference between an effective addiction recovery program and one that is followed by a quick relapse back to addiction. Mental and emotional disorders have a very complicated relationship with addiction that we’re only beginning to understand, but we even though experts haven’t yet pinpointed the exact nature of these relationships doesn’t negate the importance of receiving simultaneous, comprehensive treatment for comorbid disorders. It’s also important to remember that treatment for the disease of addiction, while also considered a disorder, isn’t the same as treatment for depression, anxiety, bipolar, or some other psychiatric disorder. In order to ensure success after treatment and sustained recovery, individuals who have a disorder in addition to addiction should only participate in appropriate recovery programs that can offer the specialized treatment that dual-diagnosis patients need.

If you or someone you love are suffering from addiction as well as a mental or emotional disorder, please call Drug Treatment Center Finder today so one of our caring specialists can find the dual-diagnosis treatment program you need to heal. A new and more fulfilling, healthier life is just a phone call away.

Staff Writer :