What Is a Dual Diagnosis?

Oftentimes, someone who seeks treatment for a substance use disorder is also struggling with some form of mental illness, ranging from clinical depression to bipolar disorder. In fact, a number of people end up abusing drugs or alcohol as a form of self-medicating for an untreated mental health issue. When someone is struggling with both addiction and mental illness, it is referred to as a dual diagnosis or a co-occurring disorder. The results of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)’s 2014 survey on behavioral health trends in the United States reveal that, “Approximately 7.9 million adults in the United States had co-occurring disorders in 2014.” It’s extremely common to face a dual diagnosis so there are plenty of treatment options available.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, a co-occurring disorder or dual diagnosis, is defined as, “…when someone experiences a mental illness and a substance use disorder simultaneously. Either disorder—substance use or mental illness—can develop first. People experiencing a mental health condition may turn to alcohol or other drugs as a form of self-medication to improve the mental health symptoms they experience.” So the reality of a co-occurring disorder is not easily defined. While many individuals may experience symptoms of a mental illness long before they ever pick up a drink or drug, there are also instances in which someone might have on-set mental health issues as a result of years of active drug or alcohol addiction. Thankfully, diagnosing, treating and maintaining a functional life with mental illness can all be addressed in the safe, structured setting of residential rehab.

Depression and Addiction

Depression is one of the most common mental illnesses associated with addiction. Whether or not someone has been diagnosed as clinically depressed upon entering treatment, there is usually no doubt that they are still experiencing symptoms of depression for any number of reasons. The repeated negative consequences of substance abuse can lead someone to a state of depression. The sudden cessation of usage of a drug or alcohol can cause severe depression, especially if someone has been relying on substances for a constant stream of dopamine for a prolonged period of time. Depression can also result from the sudden isolation from family, friends and the comforts of home.

There are resources available to address someone’s depression alongside any addiction issues they have, especially at luxury rehabs that have medical staff, holistic care and a solid amount of evidence-based therapy. Even if a prospective client is looking primarily for help with an inability to quit drinking or using drugs, he or she can still expect help with addressing the role depression plays in their addiction and life in general.

Treating Depression at Rehab

Most reputable, high-end treatment facilities like Recovery Malibu, for example, offer dual diagnosis support as an integral part of their programming. They facilitate this in concert with a psychiatrist who helps to manage medication, if the client is taking medicine for the mental health issue. At Recovery Malibu, a psychiatrist always conducts an assessment of the person at the beginning of treatment, either to rule out or further solidify a diagnosis. Sometimes medication is absolutely necessary; other times the person might need to change medications or alter the dosage of one they’re already on when they enter treatment. Still, medication aside, with depression in particular, scientific evidence shows that there are a multitude of remedies that, when used in combination with other another, can be really effective at alleviating symptoms.

Exercise, sound nutrition, solid sleep and social interactions are really amazing at providing benefits for people who have depression. Exercise releases endorphins to evoke a “natural high” and certain foods are optimal for stabilizing moods in early recovery and beyond. Creating an effective exercise and meal regimen is one of the many perks of the individualized treatment one receives at a luxury facility. Clients are also guaranteed comfortable amenities and medical intervention, if necessary, to ensure they get a sufficient amount of sleep, one of the most crucial components to a healthy state of mind. Group therapy and other activities involving other clients in treatment also helps to form friendships and find commonality with like-minded individuals, as well as prevent the extreme isolation that can often result from depression.

The treatment team at Recovery Malibu believes that someone can’t rely on just one solution, such as medicine, in order to recover from depression. People must tackle the issue with a variety of tactics to figure out what works for them—it’s rarely just one sole remedy. In addition to sleep, physical activity and a well-balanced diet, holistic treatments like massage and acupuncture, along with therapeutic activities such as yoga, hiking, surfing and beach walks, are also incorporated. The ultimate goal is changing one’s lifestyle in recovery. If someone continues with adapting these healthier habits and lifestyle shifts, there is usually a really good chance at significant change.

Luxury Dual Diagnosis Support

Whether it’s depression, anxiety or something more severe, high-end facilities equipped to treat both addiction and co-occurring disorders are usually someone’s safest bet for the best quality of care. Luxury residential rehabs usually provide a full continuum of treatment from detox to aftercare. The offerings vary depending on the facility but at Recovery Malibu, clients can expect a caring, experienced staff with medical credentials, a host of amenities and a variety of therapeutic techniques.

The bottom line is, fear around the pain of depression while in early abstinence from drugs and alcohol should not stop someone from seeking help in a formalized treatment setting. The right rehab can help someone rebuild a healthy, fulfilling life wherein their mental health and substance use issues are manageable and no longer a source of constant anguish and pain.