For the many individuals seeking addiction treatment in Utah and nationwide, dual diagnosis is involved — this is when an addict also suffers from a mental illness such as depression or post-traumatic stress disorder.
With any type of comorbidity — when someone has an additional illness on top of their primary illness — treatment can be a challenge. Learn about dual diagnosis and how addiction or alcoholism with a mental health disorder is treated.
How common is dual diagnosis?
Research shows that nearly 53 percent of people who are diagnosed with a mental disorder will also have a substance abuse issue. According to MedlinePlus, mental health disorders that commonly co-occur with drug or alcohol addiction include:
- Anxiety disorders
- Personality disorders
Do drugs cause mental health problems?
This may sometimes be the case. More specifically, drug abuse can uncover or exacerbate an existing or nascent mental illness. In other cases, people with a mental health issue use alcohol or illicit substances to self-medicate. While intoxication may seem to alleviate depression or anxiety for short periods of time, in the long run it worsens these conditions.
What are the risk factors for dual diagnosis?
Certain events or predispositions can make someone more likely to suffer from addiction and a mental health disorder. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, some of these include:
- Overlapping genetic vulnerabilities — Multiple genetic factors can cause someone to be more likely to develop addiction and mental health issues.
- Overlapping environmental triggers — Stress or trauma, combined with an early exposure to drugs or alcohol, increases your odds of developing addiction and mental illnesses later in life.
- Abnormal brain function — People with certain mental disorders have abnormal brain functioning involved with stress and reward systems, making an addictive disorder more likely.
How is co-occurring addiction and mental illness treated?
The comorbid conditions of drug addiction and mental illness must be treated on all fronts. The patient must stop using for mental health treatment to be effective, and they must receive mental health treatment for their sobriety efforts to successful.
The main therapies for dual diagnosis include intensive therapy combined with detoxification and treatment of the underlying health condition. Group therapy, inpatient treatment that focuses on community and socialization, as well as programs that involve physical exercise are also beneficial in treating dual diagnosis.
While some patients respond to cognitive behavioral therapy as their primary treatment, others may require non-addictive medications to treat their mental health disorder. Some medications may even help both drug addiction and mood disorders like depression. NIDA notes that the antidepressant bupropion, for example, may also help treat crystal meth addiction.
How does Alpine Recovery Lodge address dual diagnosis?
At Alpine Recovery Lodge, we use a combination of approaches to get patients the resources that they need throughout the healing process. Some of these approaches include medical detox, behavioral therapy, yoga, alternative therapies, nutritious meals, and gentle exercise.
Our LDS-based treatment center places also spirituality front and center when it comes to treating addiction with mental health disorders.
Take a photo tour of our beautiful treatment center to get a feel for the environment in which we treat dual diagnosis at our Utah treatment center.