Dealing With Addiction and Mental Illness
As though a substance abuse problem weren’t enough, some people must also contend with mental illness at the same time. When you suffer from mental illness along with an addiction, this condition is known as dual diagnosis.
It is mportant that you are addressing both your mental health issue and addiction simultaneously. The danger of relapse is much greater if you only contend with one problem at a time.
Dual diagnosis is an extremely wide-ranging description of what happens when mental illness and substance abuse is combined. It explains the way that alcoholics become depressed after yet another night of binge drinking, and also the way that cocaine exacerbates the manic tendencies of a manic-depressive. Either the illness or the addiction can come first; the substance abuse might be an attempt to self-medicate and relieve the conditions associated with mental strain, or the addiction might impact brain chemistry and behavior so severely that it encourages psychosis.
The most important thing Rehab-Finder.Org counselors want you to remember about dual diagnosis is this: you are not alone! Many, many people – millions, in fact – are fighting the same fight. According to the National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI), there are over 10 million people in America today struggling to deal with both substance abuse and a mental illness. Men are at greater risk of developing a co-existing condition than women, and those tendencies increase when factors such as low socioeconomic status, military service, and people with a long history of medical issues are included.
Another alarming statistic is the lack of treatment that dual diagnosis patients tend to receive for one or the other of their conditions. Of the adults who struggle against co-occurring conditions, only 34 percent are getting the mental health services they require. Less than two percent receive treatment for their substance abuse issues. Overall, it is estimated that barely more than 10 percent of those with co-existing issues receive therapy for both conditions.
This issue might be due in part to a failure to recognize when dual diagnosis conditions exist. The symptoms vary widely, and can be easier to deny than either mental illness or addiction indicators separately. Behaviors that should raise red flags include extreme withdrawal from friends and/or family, sudden changes in lifestyle, a growing tolerance to drugs or medication, and withdrawal symptoms. Also, be on the lookout for unusually risky or thrill-seeking behavior, especially when you or a loved one is under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Perhaps most importantly though, beware the feeling that you need alcohol or drugs to feel “normal.”
Mental Health Issues Commonly Linked With Substance Abuse
A dual diagnosis means that you are battling both an addiction and a psychosis simultaneously for control of your mind and body. Half measures are not enough; you need treatment for your addiction as well as for your disorder. Here is a list of the most common mental health issues associated with drug abuse from the U.S. National Library of Medicine:
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Personality Disorders
How to Find the Right Treatment for a Dual Diagnosis
With help, people can learn to control both their mental health and addiction issues, and go on to lead sober, fulfilling lives. Rehab-Finder.Org is here to help you with that first crucial step of finding the assistance you deserve. Due to the complex nature of co-occurring conditions, it is often our recommendation to seek inpatient services. These programs generally have on-site professionals from a variety of disciplinary backgrounds to help you identify and deal with your unique circumstances.
For those who require more flexibility in their therapy program, due to either time or financial constraints, outpatient services can provide you with the treatment you need in the way that fits your situation. You should expect outpatient services to help you manage any medication, provide you with access to support groups and 12-step programs, therapy both for you and your loved ones, and even transportation to and from appointments.
Whether you choose inpatient our out, what’s most important is that you are addressing both your mental health issue and addiction simultaneously. The danger of relapse is much greater if you only contend with one problem at a time.
What to Expect From Dual Diagnosis Treatment
Advances in psychotherapy and addiction therapy have made it possible for patients struggling with co-existing conditions to move past their problems and lead healthy, fulfilling lives. Many rehabilitation and addiction programs are recognizing the need for dual diagnosis treatments, and are modifying their offerings accordingly.
A word of advice: after you finish your recovery program, create aftercare plans that address your mental health needs and substance abuse issues separately. You are fighting a two-front battle, and need help in both areas to maintain your new, sober perspective.
Mental illness and addiction as separate issues are a difficult challenge; together, they present an obstacle that’s almost impossible to overcome alone. At Rehab-Finder.Org, we understand how hard every day must be for you. We’ll help you find the treatment you need at the price you can afford completely free of charge, because what matters most is that you find the healing you deserve. Call us today at 877-251-4813.