Dual Diagnosis Treatment - Why It's Vital

October is National Depression and Mental Health Screening Month. In light of this crucial month, we are focusing on the relationship between mental health and addiction.

Developing a substance use disorder (SUD) and embarking on a journey towards recovery is one of the most challenging processes a person can go through. While demanding in its own right, an additional obstacle occurs when a person suffers from a mental health disorder, such as depression or anxiety.

When a SUD and mental health disorder occur simultaneously, this is known as a dual diagnosis disorder. As coping with these two co-existing conditions poses twice the difficulty, securing appropriate treatment makes all the difference.

In this blog, we examine the unique challenges of dual diagnosis and treatment protocols. We additionally share why it is crucial to seek the most suitable treatment option.

What Is a Dual Diagnosis?

A clinical term used to describe someone who suffers from a SUD and mental health problem, dual diagnosis disorders affect 50% of people with mental health issues at some point in their life.

Though it can be tempting to ask which one caused the other, a dual diagnosis is more like a chicken and egg scenario.

Once upon a time, the medical consensus believed that an individual had to overcome their substance dependency first; however, the protocol has since changed. SUD and mental health issues are a cycle, and today, the consensus calls for addressing them as co-occurring. This means that they must be treated in tandem.

Each condition presents unique challenges and disruptions to everyday life. When combined, they give way to a new set of obstacles. For this very reason, therapists and mental health professionals tend to find a balance of treating them together within their own frame of reference.

Therapy Options and Client-Centred Approaches

Dual diagnosis therapy options tend to focus on a holistic approach. The first step is usually detoxification, which is completed under medical guidance and attention.

A diagnosis is then made through a series of questions that examine the clients’ experience of mental health episodes and substance abuse. Find out more about the diagnostic procedure in this detailed study.

While some studies show that treatment for depression positively impacts a person with a substance abuse disorder and vice versa, dual diagnosis treatment is based on the individual. The person’s needs, comfort, and recovery remain at the forefront of treatment, and every plan is personalized. Though this does not mean that therapy is easy, it does mean that the person is in control.

When administered, dual diagnosis treatment combines therapies for drug abuse and mental health disorders. Monitored and assessed by medical staff, treatment efficacy is based on an individual’s needs and responses.

Some of the Risks

Aside from therapeutic options and outcomes, securing a dual diagnosis is vital. This is because several medical risks can hinder recovery and intensify co-existing disorders. Some of these risks include:

  • Improper use of medication
  • Intensifying the cycle
  • Developing additional dependencies on opioids or sedatives

While a dual diagnosis may seem like a burden, recognizing the condition ensures that treatment can be secured. Supported by a medical professional and substance abuse counselor, long-term recovery is possible.

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