Forty-five percent of those suffering from addiction also have a co-occurring mental disorder, according to a 2010 study by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. It is a situation that has gained increasing attention in recent years. In response, the number of dual diagnosis rehab centers has also been growing to address the issue.

However, it is still the case that many facilities do not have the proper staffing to effectively treat dual diagnosis. So if you, or your loved one, are suffering from co-occurring disorders, it is important to identify a treatment center that is equipped to handle your unique needs.

Altus Treatment Center has a full time staff that is ready and capable of helping to treat multiple conditions related to drugs, alcohol, depression, anxiety, addiction and more. Our clinically certified psychologists, Master’s level clinicians, dedicated staff and support workers all understand the importance of having a welcoming and supporting environment in which to deal with illness and/or addiction.

Defining dual diagnosis

The term dual diagnosis is applied to a person with an addiction disorder who also has one or more mental health disorders. In fact, a patient can even have two separate co-occurring disorders at the same time. And although they are distinct illnesses, they are also closely related to each other in a complex relationship.

Sometimes, it is the mental disorder that leads to the addiction, and sometimes it is the reverse—the addiction causes the mental illness. Trying to unravel this process for the purposes of treatment is not necessary, however. What is crucial in dual diagnosis is the recognition that both disorders are present, so that a treatment strategy addressing them simultaneously can be implemented.

Although nearly 8.9 million Americans are affected by co-occurring disorders, only 7.4% of these cases ever receive the treatment that they need. Most of the time, dual diagnosis sufferers find treatment that addresses only one of their disorders—a situation that studies have shown ends up worsening both conditions.

Treatment Centers for co-occurring disorders can still be somewhat difficult to locate these days. Yet research increasingly indicates that a specialized form of treatment is needed for those suffering from both types disorders. So when searching for a dual diagnosis rehab center, look for ones that specifically state they provide these services or offer a treatment strategy known as integrated services.

Thankfully, the staff and medical professionals as Altus Treatment Center are capable of taking on such complex cases and work with patients who suffer from more than one illness or addiction at a time. Altus Treatment Center also works in conjunction and collaboration with neighboring treatment facilities to fill in the gaps and expertise when needed.

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Mental illnesses associated with specific substances

Sometimes the choice of abused substance will coincide with a mental health disorder in a predictable way. Often this is observed in situations where the addiction started out as the patient’s attempt at self-medication. An example of this is that persons suffering from anxiety disorders generally tend to use drugs that lead to relaxation, or even apathy. Or, in the case of depression, the user will often obtain drugs that have a euphoric effect.

Mental health disorders typically encountered in dual diagnoses

  • Depression
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Schizophrenia
  • Personality disorders
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Eating disorders (e.g., anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa)

Those suffering from schizophrenia and antisocial personality can be in particular danger when it comes to dual diagnosis, as these disorders have the highest rates of morbidity when substance abuse is also involved. In general, patients suffering from these disorders tend to abuse stimulants. It is unclear, however, if the mental health issue causes this tendency, or vice-versa.

Overall, those suffering from bipolar disorder are the most likely to also be substance abusers. Research shows that co-occurring addiction is present in 50 to 60% of bipolar cases.

Other data indicates that alcoholism is found in 60 to 80% of those diagnosed with antisocial personality. Depression disorders and anxiety also correlate very closely with alcoholism.

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Dual Diagnosis treatment

Dual diagnosis is a relatively new development in the field of addiction treatment. Previous to the 1990s, mental health disorders and substance addiction were viewed as separate issues and treated individually. In situations where a patient presented with both conditions, the substance abuse was typically addressed first, and only afterward would treatment begin for the mental health condition.

Current approaches to dual diagnosis, however, seek to implement mental health care and substance abuse treatment simultaneously. New areas of specialization have also been developed that allow a clinician to be expressly credentialed in the treatment of co-occurring disorders. Dual diagnosis rehab centers, like Altus Treatment Center, are ones that provide this specialized staff, and also offer recovery programs that treat both disorders at the same time.

Finding a treatment center that has all the necessary elements for treating co-occurring disorders can still be challenging, in spite of the growing recognition of the problem. In part, those seeking treatment may not even realize that the underlying mental disorder is both separate from, and yet related to, the addiction disorder. As of 2002, only 12% of those suffering from a dual diagnosis sought out and received treatment for both disorders, according to the Office of Applied Studies.

Altus Treatment Center works with patients and their families to determine the best course of action for treating dual diagnosis. It is important to understand how one disease or condition impacts the other, or the addiction, so that a fulsome recovery can be planned and executed.

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Successfully overcoming dual diagnosis

An effective dual diagnosis rehab center will provide the following services and types of assistance:

  • Team of dual diagnosis specialists capable of treating both disorders at the same time
  • Facilities that do not dispense with psychotherapeutic medications while treating the substance abuse issue
  • Providing a supportive therapeutic environment that will not deepen a mental health disorder by being too confrontational
  • Involving those close to the patient in the therapeutic process, both to educate them on the specific issues of dual diagnosis, and to provide support to the recovering patient

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