Having a loved one who is addicted to drugs and alcohol is incredibly scary. It is a helpless feeling and all you want is for them to get better. Unfortunately, if the individual in question is over the age of 18, there is nothing you can do to get them into treatment unless they decide to go themselves.
When your loved one does get into treatment, it is the best possible thing to happen. They’ll be safe and off the streets, with time to correct their behavior patterns and habits. You’ll notice that when you are involved in your loved one’s recovery, there are a lot of new terms being thrown around. One that you might hear is “dual diagnosis”, which may seem confusing at first but is very common in addiction treatment.
What is a Dual Diagnosis?
In rehab, we treat addiction. However, it is also important to diagnose any underlying mental and medical conditions that might be affecting that addiction. Mood disorders like anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorders are extremely common in addiction and treating them properly can make the difference between a successful recovery and one that isn’t. A dual diagnosis means your loved one has been diagnosed with a mood disorder along with their addiction. Therefore, they will be treated for both simultaneously throughout the duration of their treatment.
What to Expect from a Dual Diagnosis Program
It is important to remember that mood disorders like anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder are incredibly common and getting diagnosed with one doesn’t mean anything bad. As a matter of fact, eliminating the symptoms your loved one has been suffering from due to their mood disorder can be a huge help in keeping them sober. The symptoms of depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder can be so severe that people self-medicate with drugs and alcohol. If their symptoms are managed, they will be much less likely to resort to this.
The first step of any rehabilitation program is detox. Your loved one will go through about a week of withdrawals that will be closely monitored and managed by doctors, nurses, and therapists. They will make sure that they are as comfortable and safe as possible. As the drugs and /or alcohol begin to leave your loved one’s body, they will start to treat both the mood disorder and the addiction.
The dual diagnosis program will be approached in a few ways:
Medically: They will be monitored and evaluated by a doctor to see if there are any underlying medical conditions to take into account. For example, chronic pain could contribute to anxiety or depression, therefore also contribute to the addiction. If needed, it will be treated. From a medical standpoint, the addict might also be treated with medicine for their mood disorder. These medications are non-habit forming and designed to help ease the symptoms. When taken regularly, the medication will make your loved one feel much better, and the dose can be adjusted as treatment progresses.
Therapeutically: They will attend group and individual therapy sessions, some designed to help with addiction, some the mood disorder, and some both. They will process situations and events in the past, and through various forms of therapy learn more about their addiction and why things happen as they do, so they can work to correct it in the future.
Behaviorally: We will work with them to get rid of old bad habits and relearn health habits that can keep them away from drugs and alcohol. In treatment for dual diagnosis, we give them all of the tools they need to lead a successful sober life from the moment they complete treatment.
A dual diagnosis program may sound scary at first, but there can be a lot of good that comes out of it, including lasting healing for both mental health issues and addiction. Make sure to be an active part of your loved one’s recovery so that you can learn how to be the best support system for them too.