Individuals sument. According to the American Medical Association, roughly half of those with severe mental health disorders are also affected by substance abuse. This statistic should be no surprise. Those with underlying mental health issues may use harmful substances like drugs or alcohol to self medicate or to try and alleviate their symptoms.
There are plenty of facilities to treat mental health disorders and plenty of treatment centers to treat addiction. However, there are many problems that can occur when people are treated for different problems through different programs. Often patients spend much of their time traveling from one facility to another to receive treatment for both problems. There is a great potential for relapse of substance abuse. Lack of continuity in treatment plans may leave the individual confused or feeling misunderstood.
The goal of a dual diagnosis treatment center is to coordinate services to treat both the underlying mental health issues and substance abuse at the same time. This is a much better approach because it can provide continuity in treatment. Treatment centers that address both issues can have a higher rate of success as the root causes of substance abuse and addiction are dealt with at the same time.
One of the main goals of addiction treatment is to get the individual clean and sober and to prevent relapse in the future. However, if underlying mental health issues remain the individual is more likely to continue using after treatment because the heart of the problem has not been addressed. Therefore, treatment for underlying mental health issues will allow the individual to focus on developing healthy strategies to live free of addiction to harmful substances.
A person with an underlying mental health disorder will often use harmful substances to alleviate symptoms or reduce the level of emotional stress. Unfortunately, alcohol and drugs do nothing to treat the underlying chemical imbalances in the brain associated with mental health disorders. So the individual may feel better emotionally and physically for a while. But eventually the underlying issues will resurface. In some instances using harmful substances may make the underlying problems worse, as they can contribute to further chemical imbalances in the brain.
To treat a person with dual diagnosis requires the skill and knowledge of professional and experienced counselors. First, the individual may need a period of detox, depending on which substances are being abused and the length of time they have been used. Only then can an accurate diagnosis of the mental health disorder be made. Often mental health issues are treated with medications. The trained counselor will then find suitable medications to help treat mental health issues.
At the same time, the person with a mental health disorder and addiction will need to learn new coping skills and behaviors. It is not enough for a person who is bipolar to learn social skills. He or she must also learn to avoid social relationships that may contribute directly or indirectly to the addiction.
The individual may need to learn how to assess social settings, as well as how to gauge risks in social relationships. The individual may need to make lifestyle changes to improve brain functioning and help keep moods stable, while also avoiding thoughts or behaviors that contribute to the desire to abuse alcohol or drugs.
When treatment for both problems occurs at the same time it makes much more sense to the individual. Treatment of dual diagnosis involves combining strategies and designing an individual treatment plan. No two people with both mental health issues and substance abuse problems will face the same challenges. Treatment will focus on what works for the individual and on learning behavior that maintain healthy boundaries.
For both mental health and substance abuse problems, learning when to avoid situations and how to effectively communicate with others may go hand in hand. It is easier to learn the combination of skills when treatment for both problems occurs in the same place. There is less confusion and conflicting strategies are less likely to occur.
People who suffer from addiction and chemical imbalances in the brain often have difficulty maintaining appointments or schedules. When they are required to seek therapy in different settings they are more likely to miss appointments or have difficulty following through on treatment. The convenience of dual diagnosis centers makes it easier to follow through with treatment plans, so the individual can focus on learning new behaviors and making necessary lifestyle changes.
Treatment programs for those with dual diagnosis can be more cost effective. There is less travel for the individual. Providers can combine strategies and reduce the cost of treatment. Those who receive treatment for dual diagnosis will require more time than those who receive treatment for substance abuse alone. Competent treatment programs recognize the time frame for recovery and for improved mental health function.