Addiction can affect people of all ages, ethnicity, and backgrounds, but one thing many people with addiction have in common is mental illness. Healthcare professionals used to believe that treating an addiction on its own would be enough to cure co-occurring mental health problems. Today, most experts agree that treating mental illness in addiction recovery is just as important as treating the addiction itself. California dual diagnosis treatment is essential for a successful recovery.
What is dual diagnosis treatment?
Dual diagnosis is a treatment technique that combines substance abuse treatment and mental health care. It focuses on the interaction between mental illness and addiction, and it treats both problems at the same time. At dual diagnosis rehab centers, addiction treatment specialists usually have mental health training or work alongside psychiatrists, psychologists, counselors, or therapists.
In the past, most rehab centers focused only on addiction, and patients with mental illnesses were usually denied mental health treatment until they overcame their addictions. This was known as sequential treatment, and it was the most common treatment model until the 1990s.
During this time, rehab facilities that did provide mental health care usually separated the treatments for addiction and mental health. For example, a patient may have gone to one counselor for their substance use disorder and another for their mental health disorder. The counselors would each take different treatment approaches instead of collaborating. For many patients, though, there isn’t a clear divide between their addiction and their mental illness, so there shouldn’t be a divide in their treatment.
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How Dual Diagnosis Treatment Works Now
Dual diagnosis treatment centers use a wide variety of techniques to tackle addiction and mental illness. Some of the most common treatment methods include the following:
- Individual, group, and family therapy
- Mental health education
- Stress management
- Medication management
- Relaxation exercises (meditation, breathing exercises, guided imagery)
No one person is the same, and one of the guiding principles of dual diagnosis treatment is that each patient should receive individualized care. Patients at dual diagnosis centers usually have a mental health evaluation by a psychologist, psychiatrist, or counselor. If a patient is diagnosed with a mental illness, the treatment team can come up with a plan to provide individualized mental health care along with the addiction treatment.
Why is Dual Diagnosis Treatment Important?
Millions of people in the United States have mental health and substance abuse problems. A study from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) found that people with mental health disorders abused drugs and alcohol at double the rate of the general public.
SAMHSA also discovered that over 50 percent of people with a dual diagnosis didn’t receive any medical or psychological treatment during their recovery. Less than 5 percent received treatment for both their addiction and their mental illness.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, about 20 percent of people with anxiety or mood disorders have a substance use disorder, and about 20 percent of people with a substance use disorder have anxiety or a mood disorder. Eating disorders often co-occur with addiction, as well. While eating disorders only affect 3 percent of the general population, about 35 percent of people with addiction have eating disorders.
What Comes First?
In some cases, mental health disorders lead to substance abuse problems as people use drugs or alcohol to self-medicate. Other times, addiction causes mental health issues. As a person becomes addicted to a substance, their brain chemistry changes, which can result in depression, anxiety, and other mood problems.
It can be hard to tell which occurred first, but it’s always important to treat both problems at the same time. Since drug and alcohol abuse can make mental health symptoms worse, it’s difficult to recover from a mental illness without also recovering from addiction. The reverse is true as well. Mental health problems can lead to addiction, so patients are likely to relapse if they try to recover from addiction without receiving mental health treatment.
How California Dual Diagnosis Treatment can Help
If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse and mental health problems, reach out to a California dual diagnosis treatment center like Ocean Hills Recovery for help. Recovery is difficult, but it is possible with the right treatment. By addressing the addiction and the mental health issues at the same time, you can achieve recovery. The professional staff at Ocean Hills Recovery is ready to help you improve your life.
About the author:
Nicole earned her doctoral degree in Psychology with an emphasis on marriage and family therapy at California School of Professional Psychology. Her doctoral thesis was a grounded theory study exploring the role of alienation and connectedness in the life course of addiction. She specializes in treating addiction and trauma. She is certified in DBT and EMDR, two of the most highly regarded evidence-based methods in psychotherapy. Dr. Doss is a strong LGBT advocate and provides open and affirming support to her LGBT clients.
Dr. Doss’s earlier education included graduating cum laude from the University of California, Irvine in June of 2007 with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology. While there, she received honors recognition by Psi Chi and Golden Key honor societies.
Nicole has been working with alcoholics and addicts in our California drug and alcohol rehab center as an advisor and counselor for many years. She is passionate about providing quality counseling and care to her clients. Her main focus is on integrating the 12 Step and disease models of addiction with experiential therapeutic theory. She is married to Greg; they have two adorable sons together and an energetic yellow Labrador Retriever.