Month: June 2014

Treating a Mental Disorder and Substance Abuse Dual Diagnosis

dual diagnosisTreatment for co-occurring substance abuse and mental disorders is more laborious than treating just one or the other. Patients must be prepared for treatment to be longer lasting and more intensive than treatment for those with a single diagnosis. Certain treatment centers and rehabilitation programs specialize in treating both kinds of disorders at once, with staff that are licensed experts in substance abuse disorders and mental disorders. Recovery requires a large commitment on the part of the affected individual, and cannot be achieved without a significant amount of work, but there are many who have been successful at it.

This style of specialized treatment is multifaceted. Its aim is to educate the individual on what their disorders encompass, how they can affect a person in tandem and how a person can manage and cope with them. Dual diagnosis treatment exposes the patient to the latest health information on the effects of drugs and alcohol, and what affect they are having on the patient’s life. It helps the patient set a plan for sober living and practicing healthy life skills through individualized counselling and therapy, as well as connecting them to ongoing support and recovery services.

The path to recovery for people who are dual diagnosed with substance abuse and mental disorders is not without its struggles and setbacks, but for those willing to put in the effort, it is possible. Medical and mental health professionals are eager to help individuals confront these problems so that they and their loved ones can experience a higher quality of life together. If you or someone you love requires treatment for a co-occurring disorder, seek the help of a rehabilitation program that is certified to treat a dual diagnosis and has a history of success doing so.


Substance Abuse and Mental Disorders

mental disorder substance abuseSubstance abuse disorders and mental health disorders are difficult to manage on their own, but very frequently they can be dually diagnosed in a person, which makes for a very complex set of challenges. Nearly half of the individuals who are diagnosed with mental health disorders have been found to have substance abuse issues as well. The dual diagnoses of these two disorders usually means a longer, more challenging recovery process for the affected individual and their support system, and a more complicated treatment process on the part of mental and medical health professionals.

The disorder known as substance abuse is characterized by the repeated use of a mood-altering substance despite the damaging affects it has on the user’s life. Some commonly abused substances include alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, opioids, prescription medications, hallucinogens, amphetamines, PCP and inhalants.

The disorder known as mental illness is identified as an individual’s inability to regulate behaviors, moods and thoughts. Several mental health disorders that co-occur with substance abuse disorders are anxiety, depression, psychotic disorders and personality disorders.

One of the most difficult things about living with co-occuring disorders is that they affect each other, and they affect the individual’s psyche in tandum. This can make it difficult to separate one from the other and treat each for the problems and symptoms that are particular to it. Substance abuse may exacerbate a pre-existing mental disorder, or a mental disorder may influence an individual to abuse a substance as a means of coping with stress or self-medicating. It is vital that any rehabilitation center treating a co-occurring disorder is licensed to do so, and has program options for individuals with a dual diagnosis.

The Difference Between Substance Dependence and Substance Abuse

substance abuse vs dependenceThe substance use disorders known as abuse and dependence stem from a broad range of substance related disorders caused by both legal and illegal substances. Substance abuse and substance dependence are often confused, but they are actually two different things, though they warrant a similar kind of rehabilitation treatment. It is simple to think of substance abuse as the precursor to substance dependence, which is the more advanced of the two disorders.

Substance abuse can be identified by certain maladaptive behaviors. Work and school are often the first things to deteriorate because of continued substance abuse. Personal relationships and obligations quickly decline as well, and the substance abuser may even find themselves in trouble with the law.

A different set of behaviors and tendencies constitute substance dependence. Considered the more severe of the two disorders, substance dependence is largely reflective of the longevity of the substance problem. Even after the addict has become aware that the substance is controlling and unravelling their life, they will continue to use it out of what they deem as necessity. Indeed, in many instances of dependence, the person’s body has become so accustomed to the substance that it goes into withdrawal if the substance is not ingested. The user’s body has become tolerant to the substance as well, and requires a larger quanitity of it to receive stimulation.

The substances associated with these two disorders are numerous, and may include prescription medications, cocaine, PCP, heroin, morphine, marijuana, hallucinogens, inhalants, amphetamines and alcohol.

How is Substance Abuse Different from Addiction?

substance abuse vs addictionThe terms “substance abuse” and “addiction” are often used interchangeably, but they actually have different working definitions. In the context of drugs and alcohol, the primary difference between the two is that one precedes the other. Substance abuse is the introduction to addiction; addiction can never precede substance abuse. A key component to a substance abuse rehab center is targeting substance abuse before it develops into addiction, and the first step is making it possible for anyone to identify what kind of drug / alcohol problem they or their loved ones are experiencing.

Substance abuse is characterized by a person exhibiting one or more negative behaviors over the span of a year. For example, a person may be noticeably reckless when they are using the substance, engaging in activities that are illegal while under the influence. They may show signs of a declining school or job performance, or may be damaging personal and professional relationships. Run-ins with the law and problems with money are also common. Often the individual is aware that substance abuse is contributing to their problems, but they continue to engage in it anyway.

Addiction, on the other hand, is even more serious than substance abuse. The behaviors that can be observed in a drug or alcohol addict are more regular and more severe. An addict will experience withdrawal symptoms if they stop using the substance they are addicted to, which can include shaking, sweating and delirium. In many cases they will have developed a tolerance to the substance and require it in increasingly greater amounts than in the past. It is possible they are using unsafe quantities of the substance in order to feel its effects. The addict will feel like quitting the substance is impossible due to past failed attempts to do so.

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