Treatment Centers for Dual Diagnosis
The term “dual diagnosis” is used when a patient exhibits both an addiction, such as alcoholism, and a mental illness, such as depression, anxiety attacks, or post-traumatic stress syndrome. There are a great many variations within this spectrum. Psychological disorders might be caused, wholly or in part, by substance abuse (the rage experienced by steroid users, for example) or by withdrawal symptoms (hallucinations and psychosis caused by heroin withdrawal). It is often difficult for a layman to differentiate. A true mental disorder such as clinical depression may seem similar to physical issues that result from the addiction, such as hangovers or the crash following the euphoria produced by many drugs.
Which problem came first varies from case to case. Often, substance abuse arises from the patient’s attempt to self-medicate for psychiatric disorders, as when a depressed person turns to alcohol or cocaine to feel livelier or an anxiety-ridden person uses tranquilizers and sedatives to calm down. For adolescents, the opposite is often true: they use the drugs or alcohol and then develop a dependency, which leads to mental disorders.
Dual diagnosis can be difficult to recognize, even for medical professionals. Often, the patient must undergo detox at a treatment center in order for a doctor to know whether there is a mental issue or a substance issue or both.
How Does a Dual Diagnosis Treatment Center Work?
The treatment for substance abuse and for some mental issues overlap in talk therapy. Individual, group and family counseling sessions can help the patient learn the underlying causes of both disorders and work on both simultaneously. However, it is best to choose a facility that specializes in working with dual diagnosis patients. You can find a listing of such treatment centers by using the filter under “Special Focus Programs” on our home page.