What Is Dual Diagnosis and How Should It Be Treated?

In the past, drug and alcohol abuse or addiction was treated as primarily a physical problem that could be overcome only with the help of treatments geared towards physical recovery. It wasn’t until the 1980s when the concept of mental illness along with an addiction to drugs or alcohol was recognized. This is what is called a dual diagnosis. Present-day research has shown that most people with substance abuse or addiction problems have psychological and/or mental health issues that developed either before the substance abuse began or were a result of living with the substance abuse itself. It’s now strongly recognized by most substance abuse treatment facilities that both the mental and physical symptoms of addiction must be addressed in order to encourage a sustained recovery.

Signs of Dual Diagnosis

This combination of mental illness along with substance abuse or addiction is also referred to as a co-occurring disorder and there are particular kinds of symptoms associated with it, although these can vary depending on the individual. It can be hard to determine which symptoms are caused by mental health issues and which ones are caused by the physical addiction to a substance, because these symptoms are often intertwined with each other. The primary symptoms of substance abuse and addiction include:

  • Increasing the use of a substance dramatically over time
  • Feelings of not being able to function without the drug
  • Mood swings and unpredictable behaviors
  • Disengaging from family members and friends
  • Risking safety or stability to continue using
  • Loss of self control

The signs of mental illness are similar. When mental or emotional problems are present before substance abuse starts, it’s often times a way of relieving the troubling symptoms of these issues. This is also known as self-medication. Symptoms of mental or psychological issues can include, but are not limited to:

  • Inability to make or hold on to friends
  • Isolation from friends or family
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Inability to think or reason clearly
  • Paranoia or fear that is usually baseless
  • Frequent sadness or depression

The treatment process for people with co-occurring disorders includes a combination of physical addiction treatments as well as counseling and other forms of psychiatric therapy. It’s important for both the client and the treatment provider to be aware of how the two sides of the disorder are related to each other and how the desire to use a substance is triggered. Understanding the triggers of an addiction is a major part of overcoming addictive tendencies. Although most treatment plans are similar, each treatment plan has to be arranged to suit the individual’s particular needs.

The Detoxification Process

The detox process is the first and most critical stage of treatment for substance abuse and addiction. If treatment is to continue, the offending substances must be removed from the body first. The length of time it takes to detoxify the body depends on the individual’s health status, the type of substance being used, the severity of substance abuse or addiction and how long a person has been using. It usually takes anywhere from four days to two weeks for most people.

It’s the withdrawal symptoms associated with quitting any kind of drug that keep a person using. This is the primary reason it’s so important for people to opt in for inpatient detox and residential treatment, if they are considering treatment for substance abuse or addiction. Medications will be given during the detox process that will help wean a client off of the drug or drugs they have been using.Medications are also administered to help alleviate or minimize the withdrawal symptoms associated with detox.

Individual and Group Therapy Sessions

It’s not advisable for a client that has successfully detoxed to leave a treatment center without following through on steps to help with their continued recovery. This is especially true if that means returning to the very same environment that the worst of the substance abuse was experienced in. This can have a traumatic effect, although most don’t see it this way. It can lead to a relapse into old habits very quickly if the psychological and mental causes of the substance abuse or addiction are not dealt with.

There are a variety of therapies available for those in recovery. Group therapy and individual therapy are the most prevalent forms of therapy. The client will sit down with a counselor and have one-on-one conversations that are geared towards finding a solution to their substance abuse problems. The therapist and client will come up with a plan of action for the client’s continued sobriety. The client will continue to be monitored and changes will be made to the treatment program as needed. Group therapy sessions commonly address behavioral and emotional issues that are related to the recovery process. The specific content of any one group will be determined by the contributions of both the facilitator and the clients participating in the session.

What Makes Treatment at SJRP Different?

At St John’s Recovery Place (SJRP), we care deeply about our clients struggling to recover from substance abuse and addiction. We have a state-of-the-art treatment facility in Crescent City, Florida that is surrounded by nature and a wonderful view of the lake. We take a slightly more holistic approach to treating our clients, although we follow many of the same treatment protocols found at other treatment facilities.

Horticultural Therapy

Horticultural Therapy is a form of treatment that focuses on relieving stress by spending time outdoors in natural, comforting surroundings. It’s based on research that suggests humans return to their natural states when they spend enough time outdoors in natural surroundings. Our clients take part in gardening activities as a way to help them relax and let go of feeling trapped in their addiction or substance abuse, a condition many of our clients express.

Massage Therapy

Massage therapy helps our clients recover from the abuse inflicted on their bodies by their substance abuse. This kind of therapy encourages overall wellness by relaxing muscles, improving circulation and helping injuries heal. Massage therapy has been proven to relieve depression, improve mobility and help with insomnia. We understand that when the body feels good, so does the mind. This is why we incorporate some of the best therapies for healing the body, mind and soul into our treatment plans.

Nutritional Therapy

Most people in recovery have not been eating well for many years and lack the nutrition that they need to recover sufficiently. They feel tired and drained of energy. This is not just a result of withdrawal, but is actually linked to malnutrition of their bodies. They might also have developed diabetes, high cholesterol levels and high blood pressure. Changing their diets is part of their recovery process, and we set them on the right track to do so. Everyone who visits SJRP benefits from our nutritional program.

Neurointegration Therapy

The NeuroIntegration program at SJRP is a Neurotherapy program. Neurotherapy provides information about the functions of the brain, which is the assessment. The assessment process uses Quantitative EEG technology to read information about abnormal activity in the brain. When brain waves are detected outside of normal ranges, cues are given to help guide the brain back to normal activity, which is the treatment. Over time, Neurotherapy treatment sessions encourage self-regulation of brain function, which can have a profoundly positive impact on clients.

SJRP is proud to use Neurotherapy as part of our rehabilitative therapy in recovery since it provides an in-depth analysis of brain wave activity that can help us monitor your progress over time. During each brain mapping session, you will be asked to close or open your eyes for a specific amount of time while your brain activity is monitored via EEG. If irregular brain waves are detected, you will be given a treatment intervention that will guide your brain waves toward more “normal” functioning patterns.

At the end of the assessment session, a brain map will be generated identifying dominant or deficient brain frequencies which indicate cognitive, emotional and behavior abnormalities, and communication processes between various areas of your brain. Over time, neurotherapy sessions encourage self-regulation of brain function, which can have a profoundly positive impact on clients.

Now that you know a little bit about our exceptional recovery program, do you feel like you might benefit from our program? Don’t let yourself continue on the downward spiral of substance abuse. Contact St John’s Recovery Place today and receive the help you need.

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