When someone suffers from a mental illness or substance use disorder, it can result in a much more difficult life. Individuals may need to utilize time-consuming therapy to recover and live happily. Fortunately, these treatment options are available. Unfortunately, some issues can make recovering and finding treatment more difficult.

One such example? Suffering from a dual diagnosis. In these instances, an individual suffering — or their loved ones — may struggle to find a supportive treatment that comprehensively addresses both issues. Treating a dual diagnosis is not simply a matter of finding any old program: dual diagnosis programs require specialized treatment from experts who understand the complexities of two distinct and interlocking illnesses. 

However, there is good news: specifically designed dual-diagnosis treatment programs can help people recover. Click here to learn more about our dual diagnosis treatment options, and read on for more information.

What Is a Dual Diagnosis?

dual diagnosis means that someone has simultaneously been diagnosed with a mental illness and substance use disorder. Unfortunately, dual diagnoses are very common, with as many as 9.2 million people suffering from such a diagnosis. Intuitively, this makes sense: alcohol or illicit substances can often exacerbate mental illness, impair judgment, and make it more difficult to get treatment. Conversely, individuals suffering from mental illness may turn to substances to self-medicate and numb their feelings. Furthermore, in many cases, a third experience — like trauma — can result in the development of both mental illness and a substance use disorder. 

It is also worth noting that genetics and stress have been found to be key risk factors in developing a dual diagnosis. As a result, individuals are far more likely to suffer from these issues and suffer from them simultaneously. 

The challenges of a dual diagnosis are far more significant than just a mental health or substance use disorder. Individuals with a dual diagnosis are far less likely to receive treatment and are more likely to relapse after completing treatment. This begs the question: Why is this the case, and what can be done to create high-quality programs to help someone recover? 

Why Is Treating a Dual Diagnosis So Difficult?

There are many reasons why treating an individual with a dual diagnosis can be challenging.

First and foremost, mental illness and substance use disorders tend to reinforce each other. A person with a mental illness may take alcohol or drugs to self-medicate and numb their pain. Unfortunately, this typically does the opposite, sending a person deeper into depression while also exacerbating other mental illnesses. This self-defeating spiral requires specialized treatment to break.

Second, it can be easy for someone suffering from substance use disorder to have undiagnosed mental health needs. Without treating the root cause of a substance use disorder, an individual may relapse or leave treatment early.

The above issue leads to a third point: Not all facilities treat a dual diagnosis appropriately. As noted above, treating dual diagnosis requires specialized programs, medication, and treatment facilities that understand the need to treat a mental illness and substance use disorder together. If a treatment facility is only equipped to manage mental health OR substance use disorder — or if that facility doesn’t have experience in dual diagnoses — then a person may not get the treatment they need.

What Does a Dual Diagnosis Treatment Program Look Like?

Different dual diagnoses may necessitate different needs. However, at a minimum, each dual diagnosis program should have at least some of the following characteristics:

  • The program should attempt to determine the root cause of any dual diagnosis, including addressing any trauma, toxic environments, or life experiences that have contributed to the formation of each illness. It is only by addressing these root causes that the issues that contributed to the emergence of mental illness and substance use disorder can be addressed. 
  • Programs should be customized to fit your needs and give support for any time in treatment and long-term recovery. Read this article on how to promote sobriety in recovery for more information.
  • Dual diagnosis treatments should feature a range of treatment programs, including inpatient, partial hospitalization, and outpatient.
  • Programs should offer a range of therapies that are tailored to the patient. Many therapeutic modalities — including medication, cognitive behavioral therapy, and support groups — are available to help individuals with dual diagnoses. A treatment center must be able to provide a wide range of treatments that fit a patient’s needs.
  • A center that provides such treatment must be comprised of trained professionals and fully accredited by all relevant professional fields. 

Dual Diagnosis Recovery Is Possible

With the right treatment and experts who specialize in working with individuals with a dual diagnosis, there is no question that recovery is possible. At Transformation Mending Fences, we’re deeply proud of our extensive work and credentials in helping individuals with a dual diagnosis recover and developing supportive programs to help them get their lives back on track. As a nationally accredited mental health and addiction treatment center, we understand the challenges of a dual diagnosis and have the staff on hand to help you or your loved one recover.

Want to learn more? Contact us today and get started on your recovery journey.