There are many different reasons that a person begins using drugs or alcohol. However, one of the most common reasons is that an individual has an undiagnosed mental disorder that’s made him uncomfortable, and he’s found that using substances offers a temporary escape. Feelings of anxiety and depression, or even dealing with a traumatic event, can cause a lot of emotions that some people don’t know how to deal with in a healthy way and they may hold these feelings in rather than seeking help. What may start as substance abuse can eventually progress into a full-blown addiction in which the person has no control over the situation. When a person is suffering from both an addiction as well as a mental illness, it’s known as a dual diagnosis, and the individual must be treated appropriately to gain sobriety.
Detox and Dual Diagnosis Treatment
Sometimes the effects of long-term alcohol or drug abuse can cause a person to experience symptoms of mental illness as a result of the damage it’s caused to the person’s brain. The individual can feel anxious, depressed and paranoid or experience drastic mood swings during the addiction. This may lead to the person seeking psychiatric help and being misdiagnosed if he doesn’t fully disclose to the doctor the extent of his using. The person may become confused when he’s prescribed medications to treat symptoms that don’t go away. Therefore, the person must go through medical detox when entering treatment before he can be properly diagnosed.
Medical detoxification is conducted by medically trained staff who specialize in addiction to help the person’s body lose its dependence to the substance or substances he was abusing. Not only will detox medications help with symptoms of withdrawal to make the person feel more comfortable, but the mind will begin to clear and sometimes the symptoms of mental illness will leave as well. Once the person is fully detoxed and begins rehabilitation treatment, he can then be diagnosed for any underlying mental illness.
If the person does have a mental illness, such as an anxiety disorder, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorder or any other condition, he must have this treated separately from addiction rehabilitation. An untreated dual diagnosis can be one of the most dangerous relapse triggers there is. Although the person is learning to live a better life without the use of mind-altering substances, the mental illness may take control and induce cravings, and this can be a big setback.
Medications and Dual Diagnosis Treatment
The recovery tools a person will receive throughout rehabilitation will help him to retrain his brain and learn how to deal with life in a healthy way. However, the individual may need to take medications as well in order to treat the dual diagnosis. In recent years, medical science has come a long way with addiction medication. There are now a variety of different medications that can treat mental disorders, but aren’t addictive in any way. Medications like Xanax can be highly addictive when treating an anxiety disorder, but a recovering addict can be prescribed Lexapro to treat anxiety without being at risk of becoming addicted.
If you’d like more information about treating a dual diagnosis, call our helpline today at 800-447-9081.