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Dual Diagnosis Deals With More

All too often, people overlook the reality that there’s usually a reason for one’s addiction beyond just the addictive properties of the drugs and alcohol. If we consider someone’s substance abuse problem the “what”, then Dual Diagnosis addresses the “why”.

His House | New Creation is keenly aware that substance abuse commonly parallels with mental health issues. Because of that fact, we implement comprehensive biological, psychological and social assessment methods that help determine such a diagnosis – as well as the most appropriate process of customized parallel treatment. Our Dual Diagnosis defines the best path to treat both the substance addiction and mental health problems together.

Dual Diagnosis refers to treatment methods that are designed to simultaneously apply addiction treatment with psychological treatment. Patients to whom this regimen is prescribed usually can expect more time spent on their recovery than traditional detox or rehabilitation programs.

The Dangerous Duo: Substance Abuse and Mental Illness

Catalysts for renewed substance abuse can be just about anything. A brief glance at American Cinema is enough to draw a picture of many of the more well-known “relapse triggers”:

  • Parents drown the loss of a child with alcohol
  • Combat veterans return from war with a Purple Heart and a heroin habit
  • A college student goes to a rave and returns with a new romance with ecstasy
  • An overachieving student finds Adderall or Ritalin (amphetamines for treatment of ADHD) and an effort to obtain increased focus spins out of control and into a habit

There’s a reason this is so common in American life. The unfortunate truth is that many of the substances mentioned above are simply easy to get. With each passing day it only seems to get easier.

Not every trigger is begat by a traumatic experience. Much like the raver’s newfound love for ecstasy (a stimulant, usually in the form of a pill; also known as “Molly”), a substance abuse problem can begin with a simple chance encounter.

What about in the case of a Dual Diagnosis patient?

Reaching for helpAddictions in mental health patients can begin just like any other and, when they do, the user unwittingly unleashes a lurking enemy that was likely already hard at work interrupting the user’s life: mental illness.

Many people who are afflicted with mental illness go for years – or their entire lives – without being diagnosed with or educated about their disease. For these people, life is more difficult to live in virtually every way. Their inability to explain their discomfort only complicates their problems further and causes more pain.

Social situations can be excruciating. Performance at school or work usually suffers and relationships with friends and family become turbulent. The symptoms usually are all but invisible to others and suddenly, the world revolves around one ubiquitous fact:

It is simply painful to live.

When this condition already exists in someone’s life, the discovery of a substance that provides immediate release – usually alcohol – can easily be the birth of a Dual Diagnosis situation.

The use of a substance to “numb the pain” of mental illness is known as “self medication” and is very dangerous. The temporary relief wears off, but the pain of mental illness does not and it is usually not long before the user is self medicating again.

The Cycle
Pain motivates drug or alcohol use.  Continued use causes addiction.  Addiction adds to the pain, motivating further use.  This is known as a “vicious cycle”.

Dual Diagnosis: The Numbers

  • About 17 million American adults suffer from a “serious mental disorder”
  • About 4 million of these people have a co-occurring substance abuse problem
  • Around half of patients requiring Dual Diagnosis treatment receive drug abuse rehabilitation without necessary psychological attention
  • Alcohol is the primary substance of abuse for 45% of Dual Diagnosis patients
  • Prescription pain killers is listed as the drug of choice for 21% of Dual Diagnosis patients

One of the main indications of a Dual Diagnosis is repeated relapse after substance abuse recovery. The reason for this is that treatment is incomplete. Untreated mental illness will likely always lead its victims back to the instant gratification and temporary relief that is offered by drugs and alcohol.

For someone facing the full force of mental illness, the trap of substance abuse is nearly impossible to resist. The other side of this coin is that those who fall into the cycle of addiction for reasons other than mental illness can still find themselves developing mental health issues as a result of the addiction.

Prolonged substance abuse is dangerous and damaging. It’s no secret that it is often lethal. For each of those who are lucky and survive their addictions there, are many who do not escape unscathed. Dual Diagnosis treatment does not just focus on those who use drugs or alcohol to medicate their own mental illness. It also addresses those whose addictions caused mental illness.

There is a particular kind of pain, elation, loneliness, and terror involved in this kind of madness.

When you’re high it’s tremendous. The ideas and feelings are fast and frequent like shooting stars, and you follow them until you find better and brighter ones. Shyness goes, the right words and gestures are suddenly there, the power to captivate others a felt certainty.

There are interests found in uninteresting people. Sensuality is pervasive and the desire to seduce and be seduced irresistible. Feelings of ease, intensity, power, well-being, financial omnipotence, and euphoria pervade one’s marrow.

But, somewhere, this changes. The fast ideas are far too fast, and there are far too many; overwhelming confusion replaces clarity. Memory goes. Humor and absorption on friends’ faces are replaced by fear and concern. Everything previously moving with the grain is now against– you are irritable, angry, frightened, uncontrollable, and enmeshed totally in the blackest caves of the mind. You never knew those caves were there. It will never end, for madness carves its own reality.

– Kay Redfield Jamison, prominent clinical psychologist

I'm Sober Now. Shouldn't I be happy? Signs of Depression or Other Mental Illness After Treatment

There is a very popular misconception among sufferers of mental illness who have been struck with the venomous bite of substance abuse: “Get sober and you’ll be fine. You can go right back to life.”

This idea, of course, is not realistic and recovering addicts, thinking re-entry will be easy, fall right back into the open arms of substance abuse.

His House | New Creation is committed to providing the best Dual Diagnosis treatment available today. Knowing that mental illness is part of your difficulty is very important. Here are some indications of mental illness in your life:

  • Lack of motivation to perform duties at work/inability to maintain employment
  • Constant urge to sleep
  • Unclean or unkempt living environment
  • Unhealthy nutritional choices
  • Search for “sober means” of escape (video games, reading, tv/movies)
  • Mood swings or quick/violent temper
  • Constant urge to isolate
  • Poor financial decisions or unpaid bills
  • Self harm or suicidal thoughts

His and Her House knows that addiction is dangerous and sometimes deadly. Our Dual Diagnosis Program is here to help you on your path to health and happiness. Call our Admissions Team any time, 24 hours a day.

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