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Dual Diagnosis: How Emotional Pain Feeds Addiction

Dual Diagnosis: How Emotional Pain Feeds Addiction - Launch Centers

Substance abuse and addiction problems can be hard enough to get over on their own. The fact that most substance abuse issues lead to chemical changes in the body makes overcoming a drug or alcohol addiction far and away one of life’s biggest challenges.

Unfortunately, a large number of people with substance abuse issues also suffer from mental health problems that can make overcoming their drug or alcohol issues that much more difficult. Depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and even uncontrollable stress or anxiety can greatly exacerbate substance abuse issues. In many cases, these types of mental health issues are one of the primary factors that lead to substance abuse issues in the first place.

This condition is known as dual diagnosis, and it is important to make the distinction between it and normal substance abuse issues. The fact that these individuals are dealing with not one, but two serious conditions at the same time can make it essential that they receive the proper treatment for both.

In essence, the two conditions work together to form an unending cycle on abuse and mental health issues, and the only way to finally escape is to undergo simultaneous treatment for both instead of treating them as separate, unrelated problems.

 

Dual Diagnosis Definition: Understanding the Extent of the Problem

Understanding the true dual diagnosis definition is important in helping to explain why this issue can be so complicated and so impossible to treat unless properly diagnosed. In simple terms, dual diagnosis is when a person is clinically diagnosed with both a substance abuse disorder and an accompanying mental health disorder.

Unfortunately, there is nothing simple about these cases since it is generally necessary for the person to overcome both issues. The specific mental health disorder that the person suffers from plays a hugely important role both the type of treatment required and the difficulty and time involved in completely overcoming it. Still, it is essential that the individual gets this treatment and fully overcomes their mental issues along with their substance abuse issues. Otherwise, their ongoing mental health issues ensure that there is a very high chance that they will quickly relapse back into using drugs or alcohol.

 

The Importance of Learning How to Deal with Emotional Pain

Probably the biggest obstacle facing people with both substance abuse and mental health issues is understanding how their mental and/or emotional problems directly contribute to their substance abuse issues. It is also important to understand how one of these problems usually contributed to the development of the other. While knowing which of the two issues came first doesn’t really affect the overall treatment, it is still helpful to understand the full extent of the interrelationship between the two.

For some people, it was their mental health issues that eventually led them down the path to addiction, whereas others eventually begin to suffer depression or other mental health issues as a direct or indirect result of their substance abuse. Either way, the first step is to get a better overall picture of how both problems developed and why.

One of the biggest factors in successfully treating both disorders simultaneously is teaching the person how to deal with emotional pain and other emotional problems. Constant feelings of depression, anxiety, anger or worry can all be extremely difficult to deal with, and this is precisely why many people turn to drug or alcohol use in the first place.

Alcohol and drugs often serve as a coping mechanism—allowing a person to at least temporarily forget about their stress and worries. Drug and alcohol use also causes your body to release endorphins, dopamine and other chemicals that can boost your mood and quickly lead to elevated feelings of happiness and euphoria.

The truth is that a majority of people use drugs or alcohol occasionally for these reasons. Still, there is a huge difference between a clinical mental health disorder and feeling occasionally sad or overly stressed out. The problem becomes when a person continues to reach for this coping mechanism as this can quickly lead down the slippery slope to addiction in an extremely short amount of time. Without proper emotional healing, the mental health issues will continue to lead to more drug or alcohol use, and things only ever get worse over time.

 

Treating the Underlying Emotional Pain and Mental Health Issues

The fact that it is emotional pain that cause many people to turn to substance abuse in the first place means that this is also the first place that treatments typically start. In simple terms, focusing on emotional healing and learning how to better cope with mental problems often holds the key to overcoming both the substance abuse and mental health issues. Of course, people dealing with severe depression, bipolar disorder and other serious mental health disorders may also need intensive counseling, medication and other potential treatments.

The actual treatment method varies from person to person depending on both the type and extent of their mental health and substance abuse disorders. Still, that’s not really the point here. Instead, the point is to show you just how important it is to treat the mental health side along with the substance abuse issue in order to affect real, lasting change.

 

Outpatient Treatment Program in Los Angeles

At Launch Centers, we have years of experience treating dual diagnosis patients, and our knowledgeable, patient counselors will help to come up with a treatment plan that gives you the best chance of finally overcoming both your mental health and drug or alcohol issues once and for good. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you’re ready to get started on the road to recovery.

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