Five Step Plan for Treating Dual Diagnosis

Many people struggle with mental illness for years without realizing it. Whether it's feeling hopeless and struggling with suicidal thoughts or replaying a traumatic event, it's not uncommon to turn to substances in an attempt to self-medicate or numb these feelings. Sadly, this can lead to co-occurring disorders, also called dual diagnosis. This is when both the disease of addiction and mental illness simultaneously plague your life.

Seeking professional substance use treatment at a facility that specializes in dual diagnosis is your best chance of recovery if you have these co-occurring disorders.

Treating Dual Diagnosis

If you have a mental health condition, like depression, PTSD or anxiety, and you're also living with substance abuse or an addiction, this is considered a dual diagnosis. You need a unique treatment plan tailored to your specific needs. While modalities vary between treatment facilities, most integrated programs include this five-step plan for treating dual diagnosis.

1. Detoxification

The first and most critical step in treating dual diagnosis is getting the drugs or alcohol out of your system. Detoxification can be dangerous if attempted alone, which is why medically supervised detox is your best option. A team of medical professionals is on hand to help minimize severe withdrawal symptoms, while at the same time providing compassionate support throughout this process.

Once the harmful substances have left your body, it's easier to determine which symptoms are caused by drugs or alcohol and which are a result of your mental health condition.

2. Residential Stabilization

Dual diagnosis presents unique challenges when it comes to addiction recovery. An extra layer of accountability and structure can help you keep sober during post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS). Residential stabilization ensures you have access to medical care if needed and helps keep you motivated during your first weeks in recovery.

3. Individualized Therapy

With the drugs or alcohol out of your system, recovery can begin. Therapy is a crucial aspect of dual diagnosis treatment. It will allow you to explore how mental illness has influenced your inclination toward addiction. As you find and address the root cause of your addiction, you can move forward into a life of recovery.

One of the most effective forms of therapy used for those with a dual diagnosis is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Working with a trained therapist, you can learn to alter your thinking and better cope with the symptoms of your mental health condition.

Many people in dual diagnosis treatment benefit from multiple forms of therapy, including:

  • Group therapy
  • Family therapy
  • Trauma therapy
  • Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EDMR) therapy
  • Art therapy

4. Medication

When drugs or alcohol are no longer affecting your brain, your treatment program will seek the right medications to address adverse symptoms caused by your mental health condition. From antidepressants prescribed for those with co-occurring depression to antipsychotics for those with schizophrenia, finding the appropriate medication can be instrumental in treating both mental illness and addiction.

5. Aftercare Plan

Aftercare is as important to your recovery as your treatment program. Before you leave your treatment facility, you will work with a therapist to create an aftercare plan focusing on both your substance use and mental health.

As part of this plan, you will be encouraged to incorporate motivational structures into your life, such as a strong support network and continued therapy. In addition, most substance use treatment centers provide alumni services, so you're never left alone without someone you can turn to for help.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment at Diamond House Detox

Dealing with mental health issues and substance abuse day in and day out can leave you feeling alone and scared. At Diamond House Detox, our professional dual diagnosis treatment program in Northern California ensures you get the compassionate care you need. Our team specializes in co-occurring disorders and can address both your addiction and your mental illness through our individualized treatment program.

If you're ready to find out more, we invite you to contact us today.
Content medically reviewed by Vicky Magobet, PMHNP-BC, on January 14th, 2020.