The fact that someone might have both an addiction and a mental illness is something mental health experts are becoming more aware of. Up until 10 years ago, if you had an addiction, you went to drug rehab. And if you had a psychological illness, you saw a psychologist or psychiatrist. That was it. However, now, it’s clear that someone who is popping pills or drinking nightly may very well be fighting a mental illness. A person who abuses drugs or alcohol may be trying to find a way to cope with their moods, stressful thoughts, and/or anxiety. It should be clear that this isn’t true for everyone struggling with an addiction. However, for those who do have both a mental illness and an addiction, co-occurring disorder treatment is necessary. This article will discuss how to find the right treatment for both illnesses.
In the field of mental health, someone who is fighting an addiction as well as a psychological illness is known as having a co-occurring disorder. They are essentially struggling with two disorders which are occurring simultaneously. Co-occurring disorders are also known as having a dual diagnosis. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), there are about 9 million Americans who have a dual diagnosis. And out of the thousands of men and women who attend addiction treatment, roughly only 7% are treated for both their substance abuse and their mental illness.
This is another reason why it’s so important to consider the following suggestions:
- If you suspect that you have a mental illness alongside your addiction, contact a mental health provider who can administer an assessment. With an assessment, you can then be given a diagnosis, and in turn, a diagnosis can help create the right treatment plan.
- Once you’re diagnosed and you know that you need addiction treatment, look for a facility that provides co-occurring disorder treatment. This means that you’ll receive treatment that addresses both illnesses at the same time. And this is precisely the best treatment method for dual diagnosis. When only one illness is treated, the other illness can prevent any successes in recovery.
- Consider getting into treatment as soon as you can. Many psychological illnesses, including addiction, are progressive. This means that without treatment they get worse over time. Once you’re aware that you need professional assistance to heal, make the call for help as soon as possible.
Sadly, not everyone gets the help they need. Only 55% of those who have a dual diagnosis get co-occurring disorder treatment. And generally, those who do not get the help they need end up experiencing the uncomfortable consequences that tend to come with untreated addiction. For instance, the NSDUH reports that the rate of homelessness among those with co-occurring disorders is roughly 23%.
If you or someone you know is struggling with an addiction, and if you also suspect a mental illness, contact a facility that provides co-occurring disorder treatment. You can look to make sure that clinicians have the training and credentials in treating both psychological illness and addiction. Also, any counseling sessions and/or groups that are offered should address symptoms of mental illness, which might include:
- Intrusive thought patterns
- Little motivation
- Problems with denial
- Difficulty with concentration and focus
- Social anxiety
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