Integrated dual diagnosis treatment may sound like just another spin-off of traditional therapy, but this type stands out. It focuses on people living with a dual diagnosis condition, or the presence of both a mental illness and substance abuse issue. These conditions are challenging enough to treat on their own; combining the two makes it even more difficult.
The dual diagnosis problem is more widespread than you might realize. 44.6 people in the United States had some type of mental illness and 19 million had a substance use disorder in 2016. 8.2 million of those people had both a mental illness and a substance use disorder simultaneously, or dual diagnosis.
Dual diagnosis conditions also go by a few different names. You might hear them referred to as coexisting disorders or co-occurring disorders. There are no differences between the names; they all refer to the same condition. And treating it takes a bit more care than just going to therapy or stopping in for a week in a detox facility.
Integrated dual diagnosis treatment takes the complexity of these conditions into consideration. With so many different mental illnesses qualifying someone for dual diagnosis, doctors can’t treat it using a “one size fits all” approach. Individualized treatment plans work best for dual diagnosis cases, but facilities that specialize in dual diagnosis provide this best.
The Case for Integrated Dual Diagnosis Treatment
The origin of someone’s dual diagnosis condition isn’t as difficult to figure out as the case of the chicken or the egg. Usually, someone starts with either a mental illness or a substance use disorder, and in time they develop the second condition. A quick conversation with a person lets you know which was first in their case.
Mental Illness First
Think about all the different kinds of mental illnesses people live with today. Even the two most common, depression and anxiety, make life challenging on a day to day basis. Navigating the world can be a challenge when your brain seems to constantly be against you. It’s taxing and tiring living with the symptoms of any kind of mental illness every day.
Some people, both those who have access to mental health treatment and those who don’t, turn to drugs to cope. They might not set out to do it on purpose at the beginning. Often they notice that a few drinks, some marijuana, or a few extra anti-anxiety pills help take the edge off. This ends up especially true for people with schizophrenia or extreme anxiety.
They notice their symptoms aren’t as overwhelming while under the influence. It might start as an occasional thing, but over time some start relying heavily on substances. What started as a way to unwind soon begins making their condition more difficult to deal with. The substances seemed to take the edge off but as they use more, they find their symptoms getting worse.
Substance Use Disorder First
On the other hand, some people have no mental illness before they start using drugs or drinking heavily. They simply find themselves, like millions of other Americans, trapped in the cycle of drug addiction or alcoholism. But substance and alcohol use disorders are no walk in the park to overcome.
Some people carry on with no additional challenges outside of trying to get clean and sober. They might carry on drinking or using until the end but they never develop anything outside of their condition. Others, especially those using harder drugs like inhalants, heroin, or methamphetamine, find they might not escape as easily.
People have the capability of drinking or using to the point of developing a mental illness. Then these individuals fall into the same pattern seen in people who started off with a mental illness. They use to relieve the symptoms associated with their mental illness and though it seems to help, it only makes the situation worse.
Why Integrated Dual Diagnosis Treatment is Necessary
Most practices specialize in treating either mental illness or addiction and alcoholism. If you go to a therapist’s office, they’ll understand how to work with someone who has a mental illness. If you attend an addiction treatment center, they’ll help you get clean and sober from drugs or alcohol. Living with both at the same time places you in a different category.
People with co-occurring disorders experience high rates of homelessness and incarceration. Roughly 50 percent of homeless individuals have a coexisting disorder. Additionally, of the 16 percent of inmates with mental health disorders, 72 percent also have a substance use disorder. Clearly, the stakes are high for people with these conditions.
Many times the side effects of substances look like symptoms of mental illness. Someone might seem depressed, anxious, psychotic, or something else, but it could just be the drugs. So clinicians can’t assess the extent of a person’s mental illness until they’re completely off both drugs and alcohol.
How Treatment Works
Therapists in their offices aren’t necessarily qualified to separate someone from their substance of choice. This is where integrated dual diagnosis treatment steps in. These specialized facilities understand how to detox a person from all substances in order to understand the severity of their mental illness.
As these facilities help the person learn to navigate their newly sober life, they immediately start working on their mental illness. Clinicians will determine exactly how to approach treatment for dual diagnosis as each person might need a slightly different process. But by attending a specialized facility, you ensure you’ll have a better chance at managing both over the long term.
Plans at specialized integrated dual diagnosis treatment facilities take into account both sides of a person’s condition. These facilities understand that one of the main aspects of the condition is the practice of self-medicating. In order to address this, they offer solutions for both staying clean and sober and managing mental illness symptoms to help avoid relapse.
Choosing the Right Treatment Facility
If you know someone who needs specialized integrated dual diagnosis treatment, Hawaii Island Recovery is a fantastic option. We utilize traditional methods like cognitive and dialectical behavior therapy alongside newer modalities and holistic methods. We understand how to properly treat co-occurring disorders to help your loved one find a new way of life. To learn more, call our admissions office today at 877-721-3556!