Do you or a loved one struggle with addictions to street drugs, prescription drugs, or alcohol? Have you or your loved one repeatedly entered treatment programs only to relapse time and again? Stop blaming yourself, as it may be because you or your loved one are not getting the necessary treatment for concurrent or underlying mental health conditions.
Going in and out of treatment can be expensive, but may not address a person’s whole well being if the focus is not on treating the symptoms of deeper problems. Many problems present themselves in conjunction with other issues, making treatment of dual diagnosis necessary for a full recovery. I help by treating my clients holistically to increase their harmony and understanding of themselves.
What is Dual Diagnosis?
A dual diagnosis treatment plan should offer the healing for substance abuse problems, mental health disorders, and/or eating disorders that occur at the same time, which are called dual diagnosis or co-occurring conditions. Some people may suffer from depression, anxiety, trauma, schizophrenia, or paranoia, and drink or abuse drugs in order to self medicate. Alternatively, some people who are addicted to drugs or alcohol subsequently suffer a mental disorder. Eating disorders are often the result of a mental disorder, and many people with an eating disorder also succumb to substance abuse. Some people also have multiple mental disorders that require concurrent treatment.
What are the Symptoms of Dual Diagnosis?
The main sign that a person might have co-occurring conditions is continually relapsing after undergoing a treatment program. Recognizing other signs and symptoms can be difficult, as one condition can often mask another, which is why it is important that a therapist understands how to screen for dual diagnosis. The therapist should look at an individual’s family history, treatment history, and how he or she feels while clean and sober in order to develop an accurate diagnosis. You want to watch for the typical symptoms and signs that include substance abuse, depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, trauma and an eating disorder.
I believe treatment for dual diagnosis should treat all co-occurring conditions simultaneously. This approach helps my clients to finally gain control over their problems. Often, substance abuse and addiction occur at the same time as a mental disorder, like anxiety or depression. If the mental issues are not also treated, then the risk of relapsing is very high. Additionally, eating disorders and substance abuse also have a high rate of co-occurrence. Sometimes, people also exhibit more than one mental disorder. When only one of the problems is addressed at a time, a person is vulnerable to setbacks. I approach dual diagnosis treatment by integrating various therapies in order to concurrently treat all conditions so my patients can fully recover.
Thom Kessler, LMFT, RAS
Marriage & Family Therapist and Registered Addiction Specialist