Twin Rivers Rehab-Dual Diagnosis
Often times when an addict or an alcoholic enters a treatment facility they also struggle with an underlying mental disorder. This is known as dual diagnosis disorder, also known as a co-occurring disorder. A person may be suffering from depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, borderline personality disorder or bipolar disorder.
It is of paramount importance that mental disorders be addressed within a rehabilitation centre, and not just the alcohol or drug addiction.
Causes of dual diagnosis disorder can be genetic vulnerability, overlapping neurological networks and factors such as trauma or post-traumatic stress.
Warning signs of dual diagnosis in individuals are not always the same and difficult to identify. Symptoms that may show will vary depending on the severity of the mental health issue and the type of substances abused.
These could include the following symptoms:
- Sudden behavioural changes
- Finding it difficult to manage daily responsibilities and tasks
- Becoming introverted and isolated
- Neglecting personal health and hygiene
- Disillusioned thinking
- Denial that the person needs professional treatment
- Suicidal thoughts or attempts
- Impulsive and erratic behaviours
- Inability to manage finances
- Decline in performance at work, school or university
- Risky sexual behaviour
- Legal complications
- Relationship difficulties
Denial of dual diagnosis disorder, or a refusal to seek professional help can often lead a person to self medicate. This however only places the person in further danger. Self-medication usually involves using alcohol, drugs or prescription medication to mask and relieve the symptoms of a mental illness. Dangerously, this can lead to addiction as well as worsening the underlying mental illness.
People who suffer from a mental illness may attempt to self-medicate in the following ways:
- Smoking or snorting cocaine in order to increase energy, motivation and self-confidence.
- Turning to alcohol to relieve anxiety, which could lead to increased anxiety in the long term!
- Abusing prescription pills to feel high or relaxed.
- Smoking marijuana to numb themselves.
Resorting to the abuse of substances as a way of escaping mental health conditions is incredibly dangerous. As with any substance abuse over time a person will build a tolerance and have the need to take more to achieve the desired effect. This in turn becomes a cycle of dual diagnosis – mental illness and addiction, one exacerbating the other!
The following things may apply should you have a dual diagnosis disorder:
- Mental illness runs in the family
- A person turns to substance abuse to escape psychological problems
- Quitting drugs or alcohol makes a person angry, violent, irritated, or suicidal
- You need drugs in order to cope – Many drug and alcohol abusers are trying to escape stress, anxiety or feelings linked to trauma.
- People who suffer from depression or ADHD often turn to substances such as cocaine, meth or other amphetamines.
- People who suffer from anxiety often end up addicted to benzodiazepines.
- People who suffer from mood swings or psychosis may cycle through several types of drugs in order to alleviate the various symptoms.
What is dual diagnosis disorder counselling?
The recommended route for treating a person with dual diagnosis disorder is to begin with a safe and medically supervised detox. Once the person is detoxed and free from all substances in their system further rehabilitation can continue. Within Twin Rivers Rehab this will take place in the form of one on one counselling, group therapy and a program specifically designed to suit everyone’s psychological needs.
Realistically a person diagnosed with dual diagnosis disorder can be challenging to treat, as certain symptoms may overlap. Should a person not seek the correct help they could easily relapse. With the help of Twin Rivers dual diagnosis can be treated with the right medication and psychotherapy allowing the client to learn how to manage their disorders and live a more fulfilling lifestyle.
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a treatment that teaches clients with dual diagnosis disorder methods to cope with triggers and to change destructive and ineffective ways of thinking and behaving.
At Twin Rivers Rehab each client is medically and psychologically assessed in order to recognise these disorders and treat them simultaneously. Often times a person who is struggling with a mental disorder may have turned to drugs or alcohol in the first place to relieve the symptoms of such disorders. When these mental disorders are left untreated once a client becomes sober, they may easily relapse back into active addiction, because the underlying mental disorders have not been addressed.
It is important to note that the symptoms of mental illnesses are worsened by the abuse of substances. Dual diagnosis development can quickly lead to a cycle of self-destruction, mental illness can lead to substance abuse, which in turn worsens the mental illness and increases drug dependence.
Twin Rivers employs professionals in the field who can diagnose the symptoms of underlying mental disorders and treat them while also helping the addict or alcoholic find long term recovery from substance abuse.
David is the Clinical and Development Director of Twin Rivers Rehab in South Africa and a UK Accredited Addictions Therapist with the Federation of Drug and Alcohol Professionals UK. Articles/Blogs are written with the assistance of researchers and other specialists in the field of addiction and the recovery process