Although many drug rehab programs claim to provide dual diagnosis treatment, rarely is this approach integrated into the treatment plan from the beginning. An exceptional program will develop personalized plans that address all underlying issues fueling an addiction, such as anxiety, depression or trauma. For successful recovery, co-occurring conditions must be tackled from the start.
Rarely do we see clients who do not have a secondary mental health issue concurrent with their addiction or eating disorder. Depression, anxiety disorders, trauma, undiagnosed or undertreated ADHD, and other psychological issues have often long been present, and many times the disordered behavior has been in response to unrecognized or poorly managed psychiatric or emotional disorders.
Dual diagnosis treatment addresses not only the substance abuse or eating disorder, but the underlying psychiatric diagnosis as well. In Elements’ family of treatment programs, this means a comprehensive assessment is the first step in the treatment process. Often people have been improperly medicated for dual disorders. They may be overmedicated in the case of anxiety disorders and certain other conditions, and this can create a backlash effect. For depression, poor treatment management can result in frustration and a sense of hopelessness. The goal of dual diagnosis treatment is to help the client develop a clear plan for the future, and where indicated, refer them to clinicians in their home town to continue treatment after discharge.
The importance of dual diagnosis treatment cannot be overstated. Issues such as trauma, depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety, ADHD, and compulsive disorders are risk factors for relapse. If a person returns home without addressing significant psychiatric disorders, they may feel compelled to self-medicate. Often, substance abuse begins when those suffering from depression or other disorders try to find a solution on their own. They essentially just want to feel better, and in desperation, turn to alcohol and drugs or other compulsive behaviors that seem to mitigate their symptoms. However, this form of self-medicating does not result in any true relief from symptoms. They may temporarily blunt the troubling symptoms, but the symptoms will come back full force soon after, and the suffering person finds they need more drugs or alcohol, or more excessive compulsive behaviors, to get relief.
Often people are dismissive of those with psychiatric disorders. Family members may tell a depressed person to just get up and do something and they’ll feel better. They may show skepticism toward panic attacks or bouts of severe anxiety, telling the person it’s all in their head. These are serious disorders that are treatable. If someone you love is abusing substances or otherwise acting compulsively due to depression, anxiety or other co-occurring disorders, professional intervention and treatment will give them an opportunity to live a fulfilling life.
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