Treating A Dual Diagnosis -Your Guide to Recovery

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Dual Diagnosis

Many individuals who seek treatment for substance abuse or addiction also struggle with one or more mental health conditions. There is often a question among the medical and mental health community about whether one condition (addiction or mental health) leads to or causes the other. While there is little research evidence that indicates one condition may be responsible for the other, they are frequently interconnected. Sometimes, so much so that those who struggle with mental health symptoms use substances to help reduce the intensity of their symptoms. Or those who struggle with addiction experience new or worsening mental health symptoms as a result of their substance use.

Depending on the experiences of the individual, they may not be aware of one diagnosis or the other before realizing they have a dual diagnosis. Statistics show as many as half of those who seek treatment for mental illness also experiences substance use disorder. Dual diagnosis can be challenging for treatment providers. It can sometimes be challenging to understand the root cause of a patient’s experiences. In some cases, their mental health symptoms are so overwhelming and difficult to manage without treatment that they turn to substances to “feel better” only to wind up feeling worse. Therefore, it is essential for someone who struggles with a dual diagnosis to seek out a program where treatment providers are skilled in providing dual diagnosis treatment. Failure to address both conditions simultaneously may leave those seeking treatment in a worse state as they struggle to understand why the treatment did not help alleviate all of their symptoms. Dual diagnosis can be challenging, but with the right treatment program at a facility like The Hills, recovery is within reach.

Why You Should Seek Dual Diagnosis Treatment

Not so long ago, it was believed across both the medical and mental health communities that addiction and mental health were distinct and therefore should be treated as such. Therefore, if someone struggling with a mental health condition and a substance use disorder sought treatment, they would only receive treatment for one condition. They would be expected to attend a separate treatment program at a different location to receive help for the untreated illness. This method of treatment often meant those struggling with a co-occurring disorder (dual diagnosis) would likely never receive complete treatment as one condition would often remain unaddressed.

Fortunately, times have changed. Today when someone has a dual diagnosis meaning they had both the substance abuse disorder and a mental health condition simultaneously, they can choose an addiction treatment program like The Hills, where the staff is trained to address the unique nature of dual diagnosis treatment. As mentioned before, dual diagnosis conditions generally share similar if not overlapping symptoms which make treating one condition without acknowledging and addressing the other impossible and less than beneficial for the patient.

Dual diagnosis treatment allows the individual and the treatment team to focus on all areas of the problem, thereby providing the most comprehensive opportunities for attaining sobriety and achieving recovery. Comprehensive dual diagnosis programs work to identify and address particular mental health conditions that may lie at the root of maladaptive and addictive behaviors. Often, substance use disorders and addiction arise out of using drugs or alcohol (or both) as a means to self-medicate the symptoms experienced with mental health conditions.

A dual diagnosis treatment program provides specialized treatment models that can help you learn more about how substances are used to self-medicate while allowing you to learn safer and healthier ways to reduce the severity and intensity of symptoms. These newly learned coping strategies can help you throughout treatment and on an ongoing basis during your recovery. Another significant benefit of the dual diagnosis treatment program is learning how to identify and address potential triggers. Triggers include people, places, or events that may impact your behaviors or bring about memories of using or the intense urge to use. During treatment, your therapist will work with you to help you create a plan to address triggers in a safe and healthy way to reduce the chance of relapse.

What Are the Benefits of Dual Diagnosis Treatment?

Dual diagnosis treatment plans draw upon evidence-based, holistic treatments used in conjunction with traditional therapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy to ensure the most comprehensive and individual treatment programs possible. During counseling sessions, whether individual or group-based, you will work with your therapist, peers, and your family to address both your addiction and mental health treatment needs. Group therapy and family-based therapy sessions can be instrumental in healing and recovery in a dual diagnosis setting. Many who struggle with addiction find it highly beneficial to participate in therapy settings with like-minded individuals who share similar fears, concerns, or struggles. Having a strong support circle of peers provides you a healthy social circle to turn to during the early stages of recovery when you experience a triggering event or need someone to talk to. Also, family support groups are vital to ongoing recovery. Upon completion of treatment at The Hills, it is often family that patients return home to. Family participation in therapy helps those closest to the recovering addict understand more about addiction and mental health while teaching them ways to identify potential triggers or signs of relapse. There are many benefits to dual diagnosis treatments. Some of the most notable include learning more about the relationship between addiction and mental illness, access to appropriate treatments that may alleviate the symptoms of your mental health disorder while supporting ongoing sobriety, and identifying the root causes of emotional struggles that lead to substance abuse (or vice versa).

What Can You Expect During Dual Diagnosis Treatment?

Data provided by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Association (SAMHSA) indicates as many as 9 million adults over the age of eighteen struggled with a dual diagnosis in 2017. This means approximately four percent of the population of the United States meets the diagnostic criteria for a substance use disorder and at least one mental health condition. A dual diagnosis program at The Hills in Los Angeles consists of several crucial steps, including detox, assessment, treatment, and comprehensive aftercare. Depending on your initial needs when you arrive at treatment, the first step is often detoxification or detox. During the detox process, you will win off drugs or alcohol in a safe, medically supported setting. The duration of detox and the severity of withdrawal symptoms will vary from person to person. Often, these depend on the duration of your addiction, the severity of your addiction, and the substances used. In most circumstances, the detox process takes between three and seven days. After detox is complete and you have cleansed your system of substances, it is possible to transition into the therapeutic process. If an intake interview or admissions interview was not completed before beginning detox, your treatment team would talk with you to learn more about your substance abuse and medical history. This information is crucial as your team must have a complete understanding of your relationship with substances to ensure you receive the most comprehensive treatment possible. It is also vital for your team to understand any underlying medical conditions you may have that may be further exacerbated by substance use or elements of the treatment process, such as medications.

A dual diagnosis program must include elements that address both your addiction and mental health needs. At The Hills, you will have the opportunity to participate in a wide range of therapies, including individual, group therapy, family counseling sessions, and access to 12 step programs if you desire. In addition to traditional therapy models, the treatment team at The Hills also ensures our patients have access to alternative and holistic treatment options, including meditation, yoga, and various alternative therapies. When combined with traditional techniques such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, alternative therapies help provide individualized and unique treatment experiences that increase the opportunities for sobriety and treatment success. As your treatment program comes to an end, your treatment team at The Hills will work with you to design an aftercare plan that ensures your access to ongoing therapy and support as you transition from intensive inpatient care setting back into your community and home environment.

If you or a loved one struggles with a substance use disorder and a mental health condition, dual diagnosis treatment is vital to ensure your best opportunity for recovery. Fortunately, the understanding surrounding dual diagnosis or co-occurring disorder treatment has advanced. Today the medical and mental health communities support and understand the intricate yet unique nature of dual diagnosis treatment. Unfortunately, not all addiction treatment programs are equipped to address mental health conditions and vice versa. Therefore, it is important to do your research before selecting a treatment program. If you experience dual diagnosis symptoms, you must ensure that the treatment program you choose has train staff available to address both your substance use and your mental health needs. 

At The Hills, our admissions team will work with you to learn more about your individual and unique treatment goals. We understand that each person who experiences a substance use disorder or a mental health disorder (or both) experiences symptoms in their own unique way. Therefore, cookie-cutter treatment programs will not help our patients attain sobriety or maintain ongoing recovery. To offer the best opportunities for success, we work with each patient who arrives at our facility to create a program unique to them. At our luxury, Los Angeles-based facility, our highly trained treatment staff is ready to help you take the first steps toward sobriety and a life free of addiction and mental health symptoms. If you are prepared to take those first steps, reach out to the Hills’ admissions team in Los Angeles today.









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