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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 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, nearly 8 million Americans struggle with a dual diagnosis.  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 the 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 a substance dependency.  On the other hand, a person who is abusing alcohol may develop depression as a consequence of the 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.

How Launch Centers Treats Dual Diagnosis

The fusion of therapeutic intervention for those young adults with both a substance use 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.  

Adjunct Therapies for Dual Diagnosis Treatment

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, the 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 self and the group.


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