Posted on March 21, 2021 by Origins Behavioral HealthCare
The connection between mental health and substance use disorders (SUDs) is similar to a home improvement show, except the home is you. On the TV show, you have a designer and a contractor. Imagine the outcome if the designer never saw the house needing renovation or if the contractor started doing work without a design to follow. Today, we’re going to connect addiction and mental health treatment in the same way. As you keep reading, you’ll learn what factors can lead to both disorders and what treatment can be used on both at the same time.
Dual diagnosis treatment, also known as co-occurring disorder treatment, is a combined approach to addressing substance use and mental health disorders at the same time. Some people may be predisposed to both disorders through genetics. Environmental factors can include early exposure to substances, traumatic experiences, and high stress levels. Patients receiving substance use and mental health disorder treatment typically work with a multidisciplinary team with specialized help from each team member.
Untreated substance use disorders (SUDs) can lead to a mental health disorder. The other way around is possible, too. An untreated mental health disorder can lead to a substance use disorder.
Let’s look a little closer to mental health first. Going undiagnosed or untreated usually leaves a person without the tools to manage the disorder. They may attempt to treat the symptoms of depression, anxiety, or trauma on their own. This kind of self-medication can come from drugs or alcohol.
Mental health issues can impair your judgment and affect your self-care. You may spend more time around other people using drugs and alcohol. You may even feel comfortable experimenting with a variety of drugs or mixing substances.
Existing SUDs can lead to mental health disorders because substance affects your brain. Regular use of certain drugs may bring on feelings of anxiety or depression. You may start experiencing panic attacks related to substance misuse.
A few specific aspects of an individual can give us clues about a potential for substance use and mental health disorders. They are genetics, brain chemistry, and personality. Risk-taking is a personality trait that relates to both disorders. Changes in brain chemistry from one disorder can affect developing the other. Genetics is the piece you inherit and how it affects the potential for drug use or mental health concerns. Some people may be more inclined to misuse drugs or suffer from depression because of their genetic makeup.
Environmental triggers are factors contributing to a dual diagnosis, too. They can include early exposure to substances, traumatic experiences, and high stress levels. All of these factors will show up differently from person to person. It’s important to think of it as a checklist where not every box needs to get checked in order for you to receive a dual diagnosis.
You’ll recall we talked at the beginning of integrating care in the same way a home improvement show integrates design and building. Connecting these disorders and seeing how they impact each other is an important part of dual diagnosis treatment. It’s valuable for patients to understand themselves and their past choices related to these disorders.
Patients may not be aware of how one disorder grew from the other when treatment begins. The goal isn’t to figure out which came first, though. The treatment goal is to safely end the chemical dependence on a substance and learn the skills needed to manage mental health symptoms in productive ways.
What makes a dual diagnosis treatment more effective is the specialized help coming from each member of the team. This isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. It’s personalized to each patient.
Our team customizes a comprehensive plan for treatment at the onset, based on your specific needs. Each team member working with you understands what brought you into a program and what you need to sustain your recovery. They may focus on one aspect of your dual diagnosis at a time, yet they’re always mindful of treating the whole person.
Origins Behavioral Healthcare is a well-known care provider offering a range of treatment programs targeting the recovery from substance use, mental health issues, and beyond. Our primary mission is to provide a clear path to a life of healing and restoration. We offer renowned clinical care for addiction and have the compassion and professional expertise to guide you toward lasting sobriety. For information on our programs, call us today: 844-843-8935.