Dual-diagnosis treatment is a style of care that is engineered to address both a substance abuse disorder and a co-occurring psychological issue. This type of care has grown in popularity over the past several decades because of its reputation for results. Patients who are suffering from an undiagnosed or untreated psychological disorder such as depression, anxiety, or PTSD have an additional challenge in recovery. Studies have shown that people who certain psychological issues are more likely to drink or abuse drugs when the issues are untreated. This is sometimes referred to as self-medicating behavior. Conversely, people with a drinking or drug problem, who also have a psychological problem and receive treatment which does not address the psychological problem, are more prone to relapse.
Treatment Options for Co-Occurring Disorders
All of this underlines the importance of dual-diagnosis drug and alcohol treatment for patients with co-occurring disorders. The options for dual-diagnosis treatment vary. Most patients will want to begin with a safe, comfortable medical detox before a psychiatric evaluation is done. This will better enable the clinician to diagnosis a patient who, with a clearer mind, can self-report their symptoms. Generally, a psycho-social assessment is drawn up. This creates a picture of who the patient is. Their background, drug of choice and treatment history, if any. Most importantly, the psycho-social assessment provides context for the patient’s treatment plan. It is an evaluation of both needs and risk. What are the risks to health and safety the patient faces in their everyday life? What is the patient’s mental health history? The extent and nature of addictive behavior will be outlined. This is a mental health and lifestyle assessment designed to inform a treatment plan.
Patients also receive a medical evaluation by a nurse or doctor. This is more along the lines of a regular doctor’s check-up. It can be particularly important for the addict receiving treatment though. Not only because of the physical health effects of drugs and alcohol, but because people caught in the throes of addiction frequently neglect self-care behavior like doctor’s visits. In some cases, a patient may not have seen a doctor in a decade or more. This portion of the evaluation is where physical ailments, pain management needs and any other health problems are identified.
Following these initial assessments, patients who are in a facility are assigned a therapist and a psychiatrist. The therapist and psychiatrist work in tandem to both understand the patient’s needs and devise strategies to best meet them. The psychiatrist is generally responsible for formal diagnoses of any mental health disorders and prescribing medications to treat them where appropriate. The therapist delivers psychological counseling for the patient. They may use any number of approaches. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) are two of the most popular, but there are others. Some psychologists and counselors may vary the approaches they use depending on the patient. Many believe that certain personality types are more responsive to different approaches.
The options for dual-diagnosis care for addiction almost always involve a medical detox and then a stay at a facility. This is broadly seen as the most effective approach to give the patient time and room to heal. There may be instances where a medical detox in a facility isn’t required, or the patient receives counseling and therapy on an outpatient basis. The type and level of care a patient receives, however, should always be decided with professional guidance. The decision should be based first and foremost on the patient’s needs rather than convenience.
If you have any questions about dual-diagnosis treatment for co-occurring disorders, you are welcome to call us to discuss them.