Dual Diagnosis Addiction Treatment: Healing the Mind and Body
Many of you may have heard a term used by behavioral health professionals that sounds puzzling but is, in fact, very basic: Dual Diagnosis.
Let me give you a short tour of the mysterious mental health world and how it is diagnosed.
The most important thing to remember about mental health diagnosis is that we all have some symptoms of it to some degree! Yes, you read it right: we all have some symptoms of mental health problems. The critical difference lies in the DEGREE to which we think certain thoughts and demonstrate certain behaviors. Suppose we obsess over the upcoming job review to the point where we lose sleep and turn to alcohol every night. If we can still brush anxiety off, show up at work bright and early, and stop drinking at night, then we are a-OK. If, however, our anxiety is so overwhelming that we find ourselves unable to control our drinking and we end up calling in sick every Monday, then we have stepped into the Dual Diagnosis territory. Dual diagnosis treatment is a state of mental health and substance abuse problems.
Mental health diagnosis is when the person is diagnosed with one of the three TYPES of mental health illness:
- A mood disorder (such as low mood or depression),
- An anxiety disorder (such as OCD, obsessive-compulsive),
- A psychotic disorder (such as schizophrenia, where the person experiences changes in mental state; this is very serious because they can harm themselves or others).
All three types of MH diagnoses are treated in two ways: 1. medication (to change brain chemistry) and 2. Talk therapy (to relieve symptoms and help the person develop better-coping skills). Unfortunately, when the person comes for treatment, most also develop a SA (substance abuse disorder, using alcohol, prescriptions, or illicit drugs). This is because their mood, anxiety, or psychoses drive them to use substances to deal with mental anguish. In such cases, SA has developed secondary to (i.e., following) MH illness. This is a case of dual diagnosis, and it becomes a primary diagnosis known as SAMH. Treatment for dual diagnosis dictates that SA is treated urgently because SA is more dangerous to the patient. MH illness is treated concurrently in a program like Holy Land Rehab.
Different people require different levels of care for dual diagnosis, depending on how deep their SAMH problems are. If they have a severe chemical addiction, they need to detoxify their body under a medical doctor’s supervision (this means they must enter inpatient detox). Once they have rid their bodies of the physical dependence and longer test positive on urine tests, they can move down to a less stringent level of care, known as IOP, or Intensive Inpatient Program. IOP is an intensive behavior modification program that helps the patient stay drug-free and avoid a relapse into the lifestyle of addiction.