Treat Two Birds with One Stone: Getting Treatment for a Dual Diagnosis
The highs and lows are unpredictable. When your loved one has bipolar disorder, it’s hard to know when mania will turn into depression. Emotional highs typically consist of extreme energy, optimism, and talkativeness.
And then the depression hits and the emotional lows begin. All of a sudden, your loved one is withdrawn, isolated. They experience a loss of motivation and may get irritable easily. This is known as bipolar depression.
You’re already concerned about your loved one, and then you notice the substance use. You have suspicions that this person in your life might now also have a drug or alcohol problem in addition to a mood disorder.
They can’t control their drinking and they have grown dependent on it. They can’t seem to function without a drink.
A substance abuse disorder in combination with a mental illness is more common than you might think. In those surveyed with bipolar disorder alone, 48.5 percent experience an alcohol problem at some point in their lives.
According to the same study, the same is true of 24.2 percent of those surveyed with bipolar disorder who have experienced a problem with cocaine in their lives, 4.6 percent have had opioid issues, and 36% cannabis problems.
In those with bipolar disorder, 61 percent had a history of any substance use disorder.
What are the Symptoms of Dual Diagnosis/Co-Occurring Mental Disorders?
A dual diagnosis (also called a co-occurring disorder) is when substance use disorders and mental health disorders occur simultaneously. Either condition could occur before the other.
This commonly happens because substances are used to cope with the symptoms of a mental health disorder.
While an example with bipolar was given, dual diagnosis can occur with many different combinations of mental health issues and substance use disorders.
Any combination of a dual diagnosis is common. In fact, about 50 percent of people who have a mental illness of any kind also have a substance use disorder. In 2018 alone, 9.2 million people had both a mental health condition and a substance use disorder. This means that they need integrated care.
When Should I Consider Looking Into a Dual Diagnosis Integrated Treatment?
How do you know if your loved one has a dual diagnosis? Start by knowing what to look for.
Symptoms of a dual diagnosis/co-occurring disorder can be tricky. This is because dual diagnoses are made up of many different possible combinations of mental health issues and substance use disorders.
However, some of the common symptoms of a substance use disorder include:
- Not being able to function without the substance
- Having a high tolerance for the substance
- Experiencing withdrawal without the substance
- Practicing risky behaviors
- Abrupt changes in behavior
- Isolation from family and friends
Symptoms of mental illness also vary depending on the condition. However, some of the common warning signs include:
- Extreme amounts of worry, fear, or mood changes
- Issues concentrating or learning
- Confused thinking or suicidal thoughts
If your loved one experiences these symptoms, it’s a sign they need help. If they have symptoms of both a substance use disorder and a mental health condition, they could have a dual diagnosis.
Because symptoms vary greatly depending on the substance use disorder and/or mental health condition, it could be useful to use screening tools to determine whether or not your loved one is at risk.
This can also help you know what type of treatment options are available for your loved one. Addiction treatment with family therapy or a focus on treating co-occurring disorders may be right for them.
How Does Dual Diagnosis Integrated Treatment Work? What Can You Expect from Your Mental Health Center?
Successful treatment of a dual diagnosis/co-occurring condition involves caring for both the mental illness and the substance use disorder. This is important because both conditions greatly impact one another.
Additionally, treatment should be individualized. This means that programs are unique to the individual.
Here at SUN Behavioral in Houston, you will receive a personalized treatment plan that addresses all of the issues you are experiencing.
We use evidence-based treatment along with a trauma care approach in our co-occurring and substance use disorder program.
The components of this program are a range of services, including:
- Constant nursing care as well as psychiatrists and nurse practitioners. This helps patients overcome the detoxification process.
- Life skills and healthy living groups
- Stress management
- Mindfulness and problem-solving
We also offer many different types of therapy, including:
- Group psychotherapy: getting therapy in a group allows patients to realize they aren’t alone while getting support, a sense of community, and recovery tips from others going through similar situations.
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): CBT addresses the thought patterns and beliefs that lead to behaviors and how to modify them.
- Recreational Therapy: allows patients to express themselves in creative ways and ease symptoms of mental illnesses and substance use disorders.
- Pet Therapy: reduces the symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Frequently Asked Questions About Co-Occuring Mental Health and Substance Abuse Disorders
What constitutes a co-occurring disorder?
A co-occurring disorder includes the presence of both a mental health condition and a substance use disorder.
How common are co-occurring disorders?
Co-occurring disorders are very common. About 50 percent of those with a mental illness also have a substance use disorder. In 2018, 9.2 million people had both a mental health condition and a substance use disorder.
What is the difference between dual diagnosis and co-occurring disorder? How does substance use disorder in?
The two terms are very similar and often interchangeable. However, co-occurring disorders can include additional conditions that occur with a mental illness and substance use disorder. Dual diagnoses mean that there are only two conditions occurring simultaneously: mental illness and a substance use disorder.
What is dual diagnosis in mental health?
Dual diagnosis in mental health is when someone has both a mental illness and a substance use disorder. Either one can occur first.
If you or a loved one has a mental health condition and is struggling with substance use, they could have a dual diagnosis. Our treatment center at SUN Behavioral in Houston offers individualized programs that address both issues to promote successful recovery in our patients. If you want to learn more or get treatment for you or a loved one, call us at 713-796-2273.