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Dual Diagnosis Treatment Centers: What Are They?

One of the biggest challenges for people in recovery is learning how to live in a healthy, balanced way after getting physically sober. It can be a shock to realize that, once the drugs and alcohol are taken out of the picture, there are other issues to contend with, including depression, anxiety, mood swings, and other mental illnesses. This is called “dual diagnosis,” where a person has substance abuse disorder in addition to a secondary mental health issue, such as ADHD or an eating disorder.

People in recovery may ask themselves, “Will this ever end?” Breaking the cycle of substance addiction is a huge accomplishment, and going on to address other issues may seem unfair. However, some treatment centers can help alcoholics and addicts get a strong start on contending with co-existing conditions. Dual diagnosis treatment centers anticipate addicts’ needs by providing mental health support for issues other than addiction and alcoholism.

Am I Just Too Damaged To Ever Get Better?

Nobody is too sick to seek recovery. Although it can be discouraging to learn that you have more than one mental health issue, try to look on the bright side: dealing with your secondary issue will help prevent future relapses. Also, seeking help for your dual diagnosis can make it easier to maintain and enjoy your sobriety. A treatment program that’s designed for people with dual diagnosis takes the whole person into account. Instead of looking only at addiction, dual diagnosis programs use a specially designed intake process to assess other issues that may be affecting the person’s mental health.

Mental illness and mental disorders are never your faults. Having a mental illness doesn’t mean that you’re damaged, or broken, or beyond help. At dual diagnosis treatment centers, trained medical professionals create a “whole person” treatment program. It’s common for disorders like anxiety, untreated ADHD, depression, eating disorders, and trauma to hide under the veneer of addiction.

For example, If you have a condition like bipolar disorder, you may have been given the wrong medication, or never gotten treatment for it. In order to deal with mood swings, you may self-medicate with mood-altering substances, like cocaine and alcohol. Once the “medication” is gone, the mood swings are still there. Dual diagnosis treatment programs acknowledge that secondary mental health issues are risk factors for relapse. So, they treat your mood swings, knowing that dealing with your bipolar disorder closes one more door on your addiction.

Does My Secondary Mental Health Issue Mean I’m Not An Addict?

Sometimes, after getting help for a secondary chronic mental illness, a sober addict will start to think that they don’t actually have a problem with substances. “It was my depression all along!” the addict may say to themselves. “Now that I’m not depressed, I can go back to using my drug of choice!” One relapse later, they’re back where they started—dealing with depression and drug addiction all over again.

Dual diagnosis treatment centers prevent relapses of this kind by ensuring that addicts have a good understanding of how their multiple mental health issues work together and separately. Mental health disorders like PTSD and bipolar disorder, as well as conditions like depression and anxiety, can actually trigger the desire to use. Addiction can mask a secondary issue, and vice versa. Dual diagnosis treatment centers understand this and help the person in recovery access tools such as coping skills, medication, long term psychiatric support, 12 Step groups, and behavioral therapy.

Where Can I Find Help for Dual Diagnosis Issues?

For many people, “just addiction” treatment isn’t enough. Seeking a treatment center that specializes in dual diagnosis treatment can help people with addiction unpick their personal mental health issues. Safe, supportive, and geared towards creating an environment that reduces risk of relapse, dual diagnosis treatment centers are ideal for people who know or suspect they have secondary mental health issues.

Since “dual diagnosis” is a very broad category, learning more about your specific issues is the key. Reach out to a treatment center and ask what kind of support they offer for secondary mental health issues. Depending on the treatment center, your program may take a holistic approach—such as meditation, yoga, and group therapy—or a more clinical one—such as one-on-one psychological treatment, medication, and behavioral therapy. Many rehabs incorporate alternative and traditional treatment modalities to ensure that their patients receive the best possible care and the best odds of staying sober and happy.

s treatment centers evolve to keep up with new research in addiction therapy—about what works, what’s best, and how to help—more people who are seeking recovery have a better chance of getting sober and staying that way. Dual diagnosis treatment centers ensure that the whole person is treated, and that treatment doesn’t stop at addiction and substance abuse.

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