Why You Can’t Treat Just One Half of a Dual Diagnosis

Why You Can’t Treat Just One Half of a Dual Diagnosis

Going to treatment for addiction or a mental health disorder can seem intimidating, but treatment can seem even more intimidating for people with both problems. People with such Dual Diagnoses may think it would be easiest to treat each disorder at different times, but such is not the case: addiction and mental health illnesses are so closely tied and require such extensive treatment that it is best to address both problems simultaneously.

What Is a Dual Diagnosis?

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the term “Dual Diagnosis” means someone has both a mental illness and a substance abuse disorder. These two halves have a complex relationship that perpetuates each problem. For some people, a mental illness leads to drug and alcohol use, which often occurs as a means of coping with uncomfortable effects of the illness. Eventually, addiction may develop, which may worsen the mental illness.

For other people, drug or alcohol addiction leads to mental illnesses. The effects of substance abuse on mental health are profound, and they are often linked with the onset of mental illness. The onset of mental illness on top of addiction can make it much harder to break the cycle of substance abuse.

How to Treat Dual Diagnoses

One of the best ways to treat Dual Diagnoses is through integrated treatment. This treatment involves a coordinated team of healthcare professionals that manage both problems at the same time. While treating the addiction, any existing mental health illnesses are also addressed. Recognizing the close relationship between these disorders allows for optimal treatment outcomes.

Failing to treat both parts of a Dual Diagnosis can make recovery significantly more difficult. Without treating the addiction, the mental health disorder cannot be fully addressed. Likewise, failure to treat the mental health disorder can make it more difficult to recover from addiction, as the disorder is often a trigger for substance abuse.

In addition to complicating the recovery process, treating only half of a Dual Diagnosis also increases the risk of relapse. If the mental health illness receives treatment, but not the addiction, then substance abuse may lead to a relapse in the mental health illness. For example, an opioid addict who is treated for depression may experience a relapse of his depression due to the damage of opioid abuse.

On the other hand, addiction is treated, but not the mental health illness, then the disorder may make it more difficult to avoid drugs. For example, a recovering addict with untreated social anxiety may feel triggered to use drugs before she attends a big social event.

In other words, address both problems at the same time to recover.

Get Help for a Dual Diagnosis

When left untreated, a Dual Diagnosis can lead to serious physical and mental health consequences. If you or a loved one suffers from these problems, then please call our toll-free helpline now. Our admissions coordinators are available 24 hours a day to answer any questions you have about integrated treatment and other concerns.