Is a Dual Diagnosis Program the Answer?

by | May 18, 2012 | Health

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About half of all addicts have mental health problems exacerbating their abuse. This figure could even be higher in certain groups of people. The problem is that some people with a mental health diagnosis may use drugs and alcohol to self medicate or to decrease their symptoms.

Depression and Addiction

One of the most common mental health diagnoses that addicts face is depression. In order to decrease their depression, some sufferers turn to drugs and alcohol. While the drugs may decrease the depression, they can also create a whole new set of problems for users.

Some addicts have actually tried prescription medicines and claimed that illegal drugs can control their symptoms better.

Dual Diagnosis Programs

Because many people are facing the same issues, and seeing that tradition detox programs don’t typically work for those with mental illness, dual diagnosis programs are increasing in popularity.

Traditionally, patients who were admitted to drug or alcohol rehab centers were not able to get the mental health services they needed. Either that or they had two different sets of therapists, which made treatment more difficult.

Why Typical Programs Don’t Work

Traditional drug and alcohol detox programs discourage the use of medication. This can actually be detrimental to folks with a mental health diagnosis. In addition, medication may need to be adjusted during the treatment. For example, someone suffering from depression may actually require more medication during the treatment program to manage their depression effectively. If such a person is enrolled in a dual diagnosis program, properly trained staff will be available to effectively address the medication issue.

Even if a dual diagnosis person is able to detox effectively, he or she is still at a higher risk of relapse once the program is over.

After Care for Dual Diagnosis

Many drug and alcohol rehab programs refer former patients to either Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous. However, these after care groups may not work for a dual diagnosis sufferer. In some cases, dual diagnosis peer groups may need to be created by qualified therapists.

Advocacy Is Important

Advocacy is very important for patients with dual diagnosis. Family may need to make a number of calls before finding a facility that treats dual diagnosis addicts. Family members may also have to refuse other programs offered in order to get their loved one treatment at the appropriate facility.

During treatment, family should make calls and establish frequent contact with the staff at the facility. Before the family member is released from the facility, family should ask about after care plans and programs.

Finding Effective Treatment Is Important

In order for patients to remain sober, it is important to develop an appropriate medication routine that adequately addresses their psychological issues. When patients are on the right medication, they are more apt to be successful in their sobriety attempt.

It may take a while to find a dual diagnosis program, but it is important to take the time to do so. Sobriety is an important goal; and attending a dual diagnosis program can be an important step in achieving it.


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