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Dual Diagnosis in Arlington 817-533-2441

When someone who has an addiction to drugs or alcohol is also diagnosed with a mental illness, it's known as a dual diagnosis or a co-occurring disorder. While the mental illness and the addiction are co-occurring, treatments for each illness should ideally be separate but integrated. Programs for dual diagnosis in Arlington exist for this occurrence.

The Prevalence of Dual Diagnosis in Arlington

The prevalence of dual diagnosis is much higher than once thought. Recently, a study found that around half of those who are addicted to drugs and a third of those who are addicted to alcohol also have a mental illness. The study also found that half of those with a serious mental illness and a third of those with any type of mental condition had an addiction to drugs or alcohol.

The reason for the high incidence of dual diagnosis is twofold. First, people who have a mental illness are likely to use drugs or alcohol to medicate their condition. Secondly, almost without exception, drugs and alcohol make mental illnesses worse, and they can even cause the onset of symptoms of a mental illness that didn't exist before.

Common Mental Illnesses in Co-Occurring Disorders

Any type of mental illness may accompany an addiction to drugs or alcohol, but some conditions are more commonly seen in co-occurring disorders than others.

  • Anxiety disorders are marked by intense fears and distressing thoughts. People who have an anxiety disorder may self-medicate with drugs or alcohol to relax and quiet the mind.
  • Depression is characterized by deep sadness, self-loathing, and guilt. Those who suffer from depression may use alcohol or drugs to feel happier or alleviate their self-hatred.
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) causes obsessive thoughts that result in compulsive behaviors that may be repetitive or ritualistic. Those suffering from OCD may use drugs or alcohol to stop intrusive thoughts and alleviate the compulsions.
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) results from witnessing or being the victim of a traumatic event and causes nightmares, insomnia, flashbacks, and emotional problems. Those who suffer from PTSD may use drugs or alcohol to prevent nightmares, reduce the intensity of memories of the event, or to help them sleep.
  • Eating disorders result from low self-esteem and an inaccurate body image and are characterized by an unhealthy relationship with food and/or exercise. People with an eating disorder may use drugs or alcohol to increase feelings of self-worth, and some may use stimulant drugs to reduce the appetite.

Treating Co-Occurring Disorders

Co-occurring disorders are treated with a variety of alternative and traditional therapies that address underlying issues surrounding the addiction and the mental illness.

  • Pharmacotherapy is the use of prescription medications to treat the mental illness.
  • Psychotherapy is the umbrella term for a number of talk therapies that help patients become more self-aware of their thought processes and behaviors and learn to replace harmful ways of thinking and behaving with healthier ones.
  • Behavioral management teaches patients to identify and change self-destructive behaviors and identify motivation for wanting to change.

Treatments for co-occurring disorders should ideally be conducted through a dual diagnosis treatment center that specializes in treating both drug addiction and mental illness. These programs are highly collaborative and help ensure the treatment for each diagnosis is integrated with the treatment for the other.

Once the treatment phase has been successfully completed, an aftercare plan is instituted to help prevent relapse once the patient returns to normal routines. Aftercare plan components are highly individualized to meet the patient's specific needs and will include ongoing group, individual, and family therapy as well as participation in a community support group like Smart Recovery or a 12-Step program.

The mental illness and the medications used to treat it will be closely monitored. Other components of the aftercare plan may include time spent in a sober living facility to help the patient transition from rehab to home or vocational rehab to help increase the chances of securing and maintaining employment.

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