Co-Occurring Disorders + Dual-Diagnosis Treatment
Dual diagnosis is the term used to define the existence of a substance use disorder co-occurring with a mental health disorder. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, over 9 million adults in the U.S. experienced both mental illness and substance abuse in 2018. In diagnosing and treating individuals with a dual diagnosis, it is often difficult to discern which came first, the mental health disorder, such as anxiety, depression, or bipolar disorder, or substance use disorder.
In either case, one disorder can be a contributing factor for the other disorder developing. For example, a depressed individual may begin self-medicating the depression by abusing drugs or alcohol, eventually leading to substance dependency. On the other hand, a person who is abusing alcohol may develop depression as a consequence of alcohol abuse negatively impacting their life.
Regardless of the order of the onset of each disorder, treatment for both disorders should be part of a comprehensive treatment program for the best chance of success in recovery. An effective dual diagnosis treatment program will simultaneously treat both the addiction and the mental health condition.
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Mood Disorders That Can Trigger Substance Use
Anyone with a diagnosable mental health disorder is more prone to developing a substance abuse problem than someone who does not suffer from mental illness. But data shows that substance abuse disorders are most common in people with bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, borderline personality disorder, and depression. It’s important to know how to spot the warning signs of these disorders, and understand their correlation to substance abuse.
Bipolar disorder is a mental health illness that causes people to experience extreme mood swings, including manic highs and depressive lows. These mood swings result in significant emotional shifts that can affect a person’s sleep, energy, judgment, behavior, and rationality. Typically, people with bipolar disorder experience one or two “cycles” or episodes every year. However, the frequency of episodes varies from person to person. Bipolar disorder is a lifelong condition, meaning there is no way to fully recover or cure an affected person. However, a combination of medication and talk therapy is extremely effective in managing mood swings and symptoms.
Anxiety disorders are different from everyday stress and cause people to experience intense and consistent fears about everyday situations. It’s common for these fears to be out of proportion to the actual danger and can last weeks at a time. Anxiety presents itself in symptoms such as feeling nervous, having an increased heart rate, rapid breathing, trembling, sweating, having trouble sleeping, and poor concentration. In addition to generalized anxiety, some people also experience social anxiety, separation anxiety, and phobias related to very specific worries. Often times, anxiety can trigger sudden feelings of intense fear that peaks in the form of a panic attack. Anxiety can affect anyone, regardless of age, gender, ethnicity or background, and often starts in childhood and continues into adulthood.
Borderline Personality Disorder
Borderline personality disorder is a relatively rare disorder, which affects just 1.4 percent of adults in the U.S. Of that number, nearly 75 percent of people diagnosed with borderline personality disorder are women. Borderline personality disorder affects the way people feel about themselves and others around them, which usually inhibits their ability to function in everyday life. People who have borderline personality disorder deal with self-image issues, have trouble managing their emotions and struggle to maintain relationships. Often times, people with borderline personality disorder behave erratically, are impulsive, and have intense mood swings that make it difficult for others to be around them. Borderline personality disorder often begins in early adulthood and occurs frequently when someone grows up in an abusive or neglectful environment.
Depression is the most common global mental health condition, affecting more than 300 million people around the world. It’s classified as a mood disorder that causes prolonged feelings of sadness, loss of interest, and hopelessness. People who deal with serious depression might have trouble doing everyday activities, like going to work, running errands, or engaging in social activities. Depression may also manifest itself in self-harm, substance abuse, changes in appetite, emotional outbursts, and extreme fatigue. If left untreated, depression can get worse and eventually lead to suicidal thoughts. Depression and anxiety often go hand-in-hand, and depression can also affect people of all ages, genders, nationalities, and religions.
What to Expect from Dual-Diagnosis Treatment
The fusion of therapeutic intervention for those young adults with both a substance use problem and a mood disorder requires a carefully balanced treatment protocol. A blend of medication and psychotherapy lays the foundation for most dual diagnosis programs. Exactly which medications and treatment modality utilized for the young adult in recovery is dictated by their specific combination of co-occurring conditions, the substance abuse history, and the results of a psychiatric evaluation.
Launch Centers starts there and adds additional layers of therapeutic activities that are integrated with educational and vocational elements. It isn’t enough that a young adult just detox, attend some group therapy, and be put on antidepressants. That doesn’t begin to address the multifold life issues that may be underlying factors in their struggles. With this in consideration, Launch Centers seeks to rebuild the whole person during treatment for dual diagnosis.
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In addition to providing expert psychotherapy in both individual and group clinical settings, and medication management for the mental health disorder, the team at Launch Centers strives to help these young people reach their life’s potential. The team at Launch Centers encourages them to cultivate their passions, recognize their strengths and talents, and set goals for their future. This is accomplished through a personalized plan that provides measurable benchmarks towards reaching goals and aspirations. By taking the initiative and assuming ownership of their future, the young clients reshape behaviors that were harmful and unproductive while incrementally achieving their goals.
Some of the adjunct therapies for treating dual diagnosis include:
- Dialectical Behavioral Therapy. DBT is a type of psychotherapy that teaches the young person how to curb behaviors that are compulsive and destructive, such as substance abuse, suicidal thinking, and self-harm. They are taught how to manage impulsivity and emotional upheaval through four modules: Mindfulness, Distress Tolerance, Emotion Regulation, and Interpersonal Effectiveness.
- Cultivating Passions and Talents. The young adults are encouraged to explore areas of interest and strength to develop new skills and potential career interests.
- Life Skills. By teaching the young clients time management skills, daily planning, personal finance basics, and job-seeking skills the young person gains confidence and important life skills.
- Art therapy. Through the use of various media, young adults use art to express emotions, pain, and inner conflicts that can lead to therapeutic breakthroughs
- Team building. This activity develops collaborative skills, communication skills, decision-making, resourcefulness, and a sense of responsibility to both the self and the group.
Launch Centers is here and dedicated to treating mental illness and substance abuse together and separately in order for each client to achieve their goals in recovery and life. Contact us today to learn more or to get started, begin the process by verifying your insurance benefits.