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What is Dual Diagnosis?

What is Dual Diagnosis?

Dual diagnosis is the term used for anyone with a mental health diagnosis combined with substance addiction. The substance use is often regarded as “self-medicating” with the side effects of psychiatric drugs or the symptoms of the MH disorders. These include PTSD, depression and anxiety, mood disorders, personality disorders, psychosis and more serious conditions.

NOTE: At Hope we accept Depression, Anxiety disorders and most personality disorders together with addiction. However we do not treat psychiatric patients with enduring paranoid schizophrenia and serious self harm.

It is often impossible to separate mental health and addiction because so many Doctors misdiagnose Addiction and confuse the symptoms. We know this because so many clients regain mental stability and normality once they address their addiction.

It is common for people with MH to turn to using addictive and illicit substances to improve coping abilities, help feel better, or decrease and numb feelings. The problem is that self-medicating works at first. It provides the person with relief from their restless bodies and brains. You have pain and problems that are burning out of control, and what you use to put out the fires is gasoline, ultimately making the problems worse.

If you are dealing with a dual diagnosis (aka co-morbidity or co-occurring disorder), it means you have two serious illnesses at the same time and that these two conditions are complicating each other.

In order to successfully manage these separate issues, it is first necessary to identify where one ends and the other begins. It is also important that these two disorders are dealt with concurrently, as failure to treat one can make it almost impossible to treat the other.

“Despite our differences, however, we have found we have much in common. Each illness has symptoms that interfere with our ability to function effectively and relate to ourselves and others. Our impaired functioning has created a series of problems and consequences for us, and we have responded by trying to protect ourselves in unhealthy ways”

The Connection between Addiction and Mental Illness

If you have developed a problem with alcohol or drugs, you have a higher than average likelihood of also having a psychiatric problem.

It is estimated that 53 per cent of those who abuse drugs also have at least one mental health problem – the figure is 37 per cent for alcoholism (source: National Alliance on Mental Illness.)

Some people develop psychiatric problems as a result of substance abuse, but in the majority of cases, the dual diagnosis is a result of self-medication.

If you experienced symptoms of mental illness in the past, you may have turned to alcohol or drugs as a way to cope. It may be that this self-medication began even before you were aware that you were dealing with a psychiatric condition – you just found that getting drunk or high made you feel better.

Tim Hamilton & Pat Samples – The Twelve Steps and Dual Diagnosis

The most common types of psychiatric problem that people tend to experience with addiction would include:

  • Depression (most often with alcohol addiction)
  • Anxiety disorder (most often with alcohol, sedative or stimulant addiction)
  • Schizophrenia (most often with stimulant addiction)
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (most often with alcohol addiction)
  • Attention deficit disorder (most often with alcohol or stimulant addiction)
  • Bipolar disorder (most often with alcohol or stimulant addiction)
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (most often with sedatives or alcohol addiction)
  • Personality disorders (most often with alcohol and stimulant addiction)
  • Psychosis (can be induced by alcohol, hallucinogens, or stimulants)

Hope Rehab for Dual Diagnosis

We offer an effective addiction treatment programme here at Hope Rehab that can also work well for those dealing with a dual diagnosis. We provide individualised care – this means the treatment path you follow will be based on an assessment of your exact needs. Our team is experienced at working with clients who have a co-occurring disorder.

If your psychiatric symptoms are due to the substance abuse alone (e.g. alcohol-induced depression), you are going to see an improvement once you quit this behaviour. If there is some underlying condition such as schizophrenia, the fact that you are sober now means that this problem can be managed properly.

The programme here at Hope Rehab Thailand includes a number of approaches that have a good track record for helping people with a dual diagnosis:

Hope Rehab Thailand

Cognitive behavioural therapy

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is concerned with identifying and eliminating patterns of thinking that are holding you back in life. It can be effective in the treatment of a number of conditions such as depression, anxiety disorder, obsessive thoughts, and self-esteem issues. It is also a clinically proven way of dealing with addiction. Our CBT program will provide you with tools to help you set goals and achieve them.

“The Twelve Step program offers us hope by providing a path out of the chaos of lives ruled by a dual disorders… Instead of being overwhelmed by the power of our dual disorders, we are invited to find a different Higher Power that will guide is through recovery”

– Anonymous – The Dual Disorders Recovery Book: A Twelve Step Program for Those of Us with Addiction and an Emotional or Psychiatric Illness

Mindfulness and Meditation

Mindfulness is a type of meditation practice that teaches you how to live in the present moment and experience your thoughts and feelings in a more objective way. It can be effective for managing depression, anxiety, and obsessive thinking, and it is an excellent tool for relapse prevention.

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