young man in dual diagnosis treatment session

Mental illness and substance abuse often occur together. According to the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 1.5% of adolescents and 3.7% of adults suffered from both a substance use disorder and a mental health disorder at that time (source). Sometimes the mental health issue comes first, while other times it happens after an extended period of substance abuse.

When these two exist together, it’s called a dual diagnosis, and it can be more challenging to treat than either problem alone. If you or a loved one has co-occurring disorders, the benefits of dual diagnosis treatment are numerous and wide-ranging.

What Is Dual Diagnosis?

Dual diagnosis is also sometimes called co-occurring disorders. This is when someone has one or more mental disorders while also having a substance use disorder. Since people often turn to substance use to help manage the symptoms of their mental illness, dual diagnosis is relatively common. If you or a loved one is battling addiction and mental illness, finding dual diagnosis treatment is crucial to recovery.

Man suffering from dual diagnosis disorder seeking addiction treatment

What Should I Expect From a Dual Diagnosis Treatment Program?

Since mental illness and substance abuse can be so intertwined, it’s essential to treat both simultaneously through dual diagnosis treatment. Of course, this treatment looks different for everyone, based on numerous factors, including the specific mental health problem you’re battling and the type of substance you abuse. Generally, however, you can expect dual diagnosis treatment programs to include:

  • Psychiatric therapy (including cognitive behavioral therapy)
  • Medication management
  • Detox, which is overseen by medical professionals
  • Individual and group therapies for addiction
  • Wellness programs to help heal your mind and spirit

Your recovery support specialist will help develop a unique dual diagnosis treatment program that works best for you. If you have any questions or concerns, they can address them for you.

Your program will likely start with a complete psychiatric evaluation to help determine what mental illness you’re struggling with. For example, these evaluations commonly help to diagnose problems like anxiety disorders, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and bipolar disorder. A comprehensive understanding of your mental illness will help professionals create the best dual diagnosis treatment program for you.

Inpatient vs. Outpatient Program Options

Treatment for substance abuse disorder has two options: inpatient and outpatient. The same is true for co-occurring disorders.

It’s highly recommended you choose an inpatient program if possible. This option allows you to temporarily stay in the treatment facility under 24/7 supervision. The length of stays varies but is generally between one and three months. You can focus solely on recovery without any outside stresses during this time.

If there’s a reason you can’t commit to an inpatient program, outpatient options are more flexible. In outpatient programs, you’ll undergo treatment for a few hours, several days a week, for a set amount of time. Although an outpatient program isn’t ideal for people requiring complete support (especially in the case of a dual diagnosis), they can help you until you can attend a more intensive program.

Man in a dual diagnosis treatment counseling session

What Are the Benefits of Dual Diagnosis Treatment?

There are numerous benefits of dual diagnosis treatment. The most significant of these are discussed in more detail below.

1. Learn Better Coping Skills

People often turn to substance use to help manage the symptoms of undiagnosed or untreated mental health disorders. Sometimes, people develop mental health disorders because of a long-term substance use disorder. Regardless of which way it happens, substance use disorder is used as a damaging coping skill. A dual diagnosis treatment program will teach you better, healthier coping skills that you can use when feeling stressed, depressed, anxious, angry or overwhelmed. In turn, better coping skills can increase the chance of long-term sobriety.

2. Get to the Root Cause of Substance Abuse

As mentioned before, a substance use disorder often follows mental health issues. Even when this isn’t the case, substance use is generally used as a way to escape life’s problems. A dual diagnosis treatment center will focus on finding the root cause of a substance use disorder so it can be treated or managed. If the root cause is a mental health issue (instead of presenting later), dual diagnosis treatment centers will help manage it with therapy and medication.

3. Whole Self Treatment and Healing

Some addiction treatment centers focus only on the substance use disorder. They offer detoxing and community support for that issue alone. While this may work for some, many find themselves relapsing after a period of sobriety — and they aren’t sure why. If this sounds like you, the reason could be that you need a more intensive, comprehensive treatment program.

Dual diagnosis treatment centers offer an approach to addiction and mental health treatment that targets the whole person: body, mind and spirit. By participating in this type of dual diagnosis program, you’re given a greater chance at recovery and life-long sobriety.

4. Community Support

You’ll receive community support from medical professionals, addiction specialists and people facing the same struggles you are. This community support will last long past your initial steps to recovery. You’ll also be given the tools and support necessary to stay strong during every stage of your sobriety journey.

5. Creating a Plan for the Future

When facing the overlapping symptoms of a mental health disorder and substance abuse, it can be challenging to imagine life ever being different. But dual diagnosis treatment centers in Florida like Serenity Springs can help you create a step-by-step plan for the future to clearly see what life will be like as you move past your current problems and into a healthier you.

How Serenity Springs Can Help

If you or a loved one requires dual diagnosis treatment, Serenity Springs is here to help. Call us at (386) 388-5755 to learn about our dual diagnosis treatment programs so you can start your journey to recovery today. You can also learn more about our program and admissions process on our website and fill out our online contact form if preferred. One of our mental health and addiction treatment professionals will be in touch as soon as possible.

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