Some believe those with mental health or dual-diagnosis disorders do not belong in standard sober livings or addiction treatment centers.
The majority of alcoholics and drug addicts present with dual-diagnosis and co-occurring symptoms of disorders of mental health illnesses during their first year of treatment, recovery, etc. This is due to the destruction they may have caused to their brains while drinking/drugging. No true psychiatrist can accurately diagnose a drug addict (or alcoholic) with a co-occurring mental health illness until they have a year or so clean and sober unless those symptoms pre-dated the onset of substance use.
As such, many drug addicts end up in substance abuse treatment for drug use or for mental health issues. As with those who present strictly with drug/alcohol abuse, these individuals will benefit from a similar continuum of care. Residential treatment, followed by sober living homes and addiction recovery houses along with outpatient treatment could prove to be one of the best things that ever happened to them. Perhaps those with additional dual-diagnosis issues would benefit from extra one on one time with a therapist in addition to simply an outpatient program.
There is a large population of men and women who suffer from both mental health illnesses as well as substance abuse/drug addiction. It is common that symptoms of a psychiatric illness, such as hearing voices or experiencing delusions, might drive one to want to use substances. Many people with co-occurring disorders say that they up up drinking or using drugs as a way to drown out the voices.
On the other hand, using drugs might also induce psychiatric symptoms. The use of psychedelics, for instance, have led to experiencing psychosis for some people. In this way, It’s been difficult for mental health professionals to determine whether the mental illness or the addiction came first.
If you are one who experiences both an addiction and a mental illness, achieving true recovery must be done by treating both disorders simultaneously. This is called integrated treatment, or dual-diagnosis treatment. When they are treated concurrently, there is a significant decrease in mental health symptoms and conversely, a significant increase in long-term sobriety.
Structured recovery programs exist for those who truly find themselves in need of dual-diagnosis treatment. Such programs and sober living homes will include such tools as:
- Individual and family psychotherapy
- Medication monitoring and support
- Ongoing communication with treatment team
- Targeted support groups
- Holistic treatments and new therapies
- Recovery coaching, life skills & coaching, etc.
In order for those with dual-diagnosis illnesses to be effectively living, working, learning and being in social environments of their choice, there must be some form of addiction treatment or recovery protocol. Achieving the best sober living home or treatment experience means focusing on how the addiction and the mental illness are feeding each other and how to reduce the level of harm that each are creating.
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This article was submitted as a guest post by someone who currently works in the substance abuse treatment field, and who sees great importance in properly matching those with mental health or dual-diagnosis illnesses with treatment services best suited for their clinical needs.
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