Coming to grips with a substance use disorder that is coupled with a mental health issue is a tall order. Knowing full well there is a difficult process ahead of learning how to live one’s life without the drug or alcohol can seem daunting. But maybe the way to face this challenge is by seeing it as an opportunity to grow mentally, physically, and spiritually into a better person, instead of something to be dreaded.
Seeking help for this newfound personal growth via an outpatient dual diagnosis treatment center can offer the support and expertise that treats both disorders simultaneously. By facing the process with a positive attitude you will gain the most from the treatment program and reap huge rewards that will benefit all aspects of your life.
Understanding a Dual Diagnosis
When someone suffers from a substance use disorder that coexists with a mental health disorder, or visa versa, it is called a dual diagnosis. According to statistics provided by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration, about 8 million Americans over age 18 have these co-occurring disorders. Rates of dual diagnosis are highest among those adults aged 26-49. It is still not known whether the mental health disorder emerges first or as a result of the substance use disorder, but in either case, treatment will address both.
Living with a dual diagnosis creates a complex mental health challenge, with one disorder fueling the other and a great deal of suffering resulting. For example, someone who is battling major depression may turn to alcohol to ease the symptoms of the depression and help them to function. Over time, an alcohol addiction or dependency can develop which only exacerbates the symptoms of the depression while adding additional negative consequences to the individual’s life.
Because each combination of disorders, for instance bipolar disorder and alcohol, social anxiety with marijuana, or cocaine addiction and anxiety disorder, will have unique symptoms based on the disorders present. Understanding what symptoms indicate a substance use disorder can help create awareness that a mental health disorder could also be present. These symptoms of addiction might include:
- Loss of control over the use of the drug or alcohol
- Engaging in risky behaviors
- Changes in behavior
- Mood swings
- Obsessed with obtaining the drug and looking forward to next high
- Decreased work or academic performance
- Isolating from friends and family
- Secretive behavior
- A sense that you can’t function without the substance
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when attempting to quit
When an individual realizes that they are using drugs or alcohol to self-medicate a mood disorder then seeking treatment at a rehab that specializes in dual diagnosis is warranted.
The Challenges of Treating a Dual Diagnosis
Treating a dual diagnosis requires a specific expertise that involves psychiatric support as well as the addiction professionals and clinical psychologists that treat a substance use disorder. Only a dual diagnosis program is equipped to provide the appropriate care and support for individuals with co-occurring disorders. Treating a dual diagnosis is complicated, requiring an integrated approach that is best undertaken only by programs that offer the necessary professional support.
In most cases, the dual diagnosis client will require medication once it is determined they meet the criteria for a mental health diagnosis. Determining the correct drug, dosage, or combination of drugs can sometimes take some trialing. Each disorder affects the other, so the process of finding the right medication is a complicated process.
What to Expect at an Outpatient Dual Diagnosis Treatment Center
An outpatient treatment setting can be ideal for someone with a mild to moderate substance use disorder. The programs that treat dual diagnosis likely have both psychiatrists and masters or doctoral level psychotherapists available to cover both diagnoses. After a comprehensive evaluation that includes health history, psychiatric history, and addiction history, the case manager will design a treatment program tailored for the client’s specific needs.
There are differing levels of intensity available at outpatient rehabs. Someone with an entrenched dual diagnosis will benefit from the intensive outpatient program (IOP) that requires about 25-30 hours of participation and treatment per week. Outside of the treatment hours, the client resides at their home or in a sober living home.
Treatment for the dual diagnosis may include:
- One-on-one sessions with a psychotherapist, often involves cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavior therapy, contingency management, and others
- Group therapy sessions with peers
- Medication management for the mental health disorder
- 12-step recovery group participation
- Classes geared toward reinforcing sobriety and avoiding relapse
- Life skills classes to help clients re-enter the job market
- Adjunct therapies, such as mindfulness training, yoga, or art therapy
- Family therapy
Treatment for both the substance use disorder and the mental health disorder should be tackled simultaneously, with each issue being treated within the outpatient program.
Ongoing Aftercare for a Dual Diagnosis
The outpatient dual diagnosis treatment center will have provided a foundation for the client’s successful recovery, but treatment doesn’t end there. Recovering from a dual diagnosis is a fluid and ongoing process, meaning that the risk of relapse is something to be taken seriously. Once the outpatient program has been completed, it is important to continue to receive support moving forward.
There are several steps the client can take to help safeguard their newfound sobriety and improved mental state after the program has ended. Many clients find that residing in a sober living home for a few months following treatment helps them transition safely back to their regular life with a more solid grasp on their recovery. Ongoing participation at 12-step meetings can offer an additional layer of peer support as well. Weekly therapy sessions can provide fine-tuning of coping skills, relaxation techniques, and a sounding board for sharing any difficulties or challenges faced in early recovery.
Phoenix Rising Behavioral Outpatient Dual Diagnosis Treatment Center in Orange County
Phoenix Rising Behavioral is an addiction and dual diagnosis outpatient treatment program situated in South Orange County, California. Phoenix Rising Behavioral treats both co-occurring disorders simultaneously to provide the best chances for a full recovery. In addition to the daily treatment offerings, Phoenix Rising also offers evening classes and therapy to accommodate those who work during the day. The doctorate and masters level therapists provide the highest level of expert care for clients, solely invested in helping them achieve a new and wonderful life in recovery. For more information about the program, please contact Phoenix Rising Admissions today at (877) 299-5694.