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What is Dual Diagnosis 2017-03-06T17:16:07+00:00
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Dual Diagnosis Treatment Therapy Programs

What is Dual Diagnosis?

Dual diagnosis is a term used when a person has a mental disorder, such as depression or bipolar disorder (also known as manic depression), and a problem with drugs or alcohol abuse. A person with dual diagnosis has two separate illnesses, and each illness needs its own treatment plan. Our dual diagnosis treatment therapy programs are in-depth and tailored to the addict based on their unique needs.

Typically, the mental disorder occurs first. This can lead people to use alcohol or drugs that help them to alleviate their uncomfortable and distressing symptoms of the disorder. Other times, the substance abuse occurs first later leading to emotional and mental problems.

It’s important to recognize that both mood disorders and an addiction are not moral weaknesses or character flaws. Dual diagnosis and addiction can affect anyone, regardless of age, ethnicity, or economic background. Studies have shown that more than half of the people who have depression or bipolar disorder also use alcohol and/or drugs.

Sometimes people may use the addiction source (alcohol or drugs) to help cover up or mask symptoms of their mood disorder. For example, if a person’s mind is racing because of mania, a drink of alcohol may slow it down. If a person has intense sadness or hopelessness because of depression, a drug may help him or her feel happy or hopeful for a period of time.

Self-Medication Doesn’t Work.

This “self-medication” may appear to help, but it actually makes things worse. After the temporary effects of the alcohol or drugs wear off, a person’s symptoms are often worse than ever. Self-medication can cause a person’s mood disorder to stay undiagnosed for a long time.

We believe in the importance of being able to identify the symptoms of dual diagnosis and addiction in order to address the issue with an appropriate treatment plan. The defining characteristic is that both a mental health and substance abuse disorder occur simultaneously. Because there are many combinations of disorders that can occur, the symptoms of dual diagnosis vary widely. We’ve taken this idea into great consideration when modeling our dual diagnosis treatment therapy programs.

When a person has five or more of the following symptoms – including feelings of sadness or loss of interest or pleasure – or if these symptoms interfere with a person’s life, she or he may have major (clinical) depression or mental disorder:

  • Feeling sad / crying a lot
  • Major changes in appetite and sleep patterns
  • Irritability / anger
  • Worry and anxiety
  • Pessimism, indifference, feeling like nothing will ever go right
  • Loss of energy, constant exhaustion
  • Unexplained aches and pains
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness and/or hopelessness
  • Not able to concentrate or make decisions
  • Not able to enjoy things formerly enjoyed, not wanting to socialize
  • Recurring thoughts of death or suicide

In case of a substance abuse or addiction, symptoms can be:

  • Withdrawal from friends and family
  • Sudden changes in behavior
  • Using substances under dangerous conditions
  • Engaging in risky behaviors when drunk or high
  • Loss of control over use of substances
  • Appearance of withdrawal symptoms
  • Strong craving for the substance

As stated before, co-occurring disorders are not an uncommon diagnosis, but require very specific tailored drug treatment. At White Sands Tampa, our dual diagnosis treatment therapy programs are designed to treat mental health and substance abuse disorders simultaneously, as an integral aspect of the recovery process.

Without this integrated treatment approach, drug users diagnosed with dual disorders can easily get caught amidst the cyclical relationship between their mental illness and their substance abuse: a detrimental deterrent that will inhibit a successful recovery.

We at White Sands Tampa believe that for integrated treatment to be successful, it must include assertive outreach, motivational interventions, counseling, social support, a community-based process, and cultural sensitivity. With this support, families and friends can ensure that their loved ones get the medical and psychosocial treatments that they deserve to enhance the journey to recovery.

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