How Dual-Diagnosis Models Are Improving Substance Abuse Treatment

Anyone who has struggled with substance abuse knows how challenging it can be to overcome. For many people, substance use and abuse are more than a single problem. The origins can be found in unresolved mental health issues, often stemming from trauma earlier in life. When substance abuse treatment programs provide a dual-diagnosis model for addressing these co-occurring issues, it can positively affect outcomes. Here are some examples of dual-diagnosis program elements that are contributing to greater success in the healing of addiction.

Addressing the Source  

Treating substance abuse in a vacuum may work for some people. Behavioral therapy, twelve-step groups and lifestyle changes are helpful for arresting the problem. Data show that a high percentage of people relapse after a period of abstinence. This may arise from the failure to address the root of the problem. Dual-diagnosis programs take on both the substance use and the underlying mental health conditions, which may give patients a better chance of long-term success.

Standardizing Treatment

These programs are beginning to form a consistent standard of care. The substance abuse treatment Benton, Ark., might offer will be similar to a dual-diagnosis program in San Francisco or Chicago. Whatever the location, this more comprehensive approach provides an important context to the process of healing addiction.

Monitoring Medical Factors

Generally, M.D. psychiatrists are a significant component of dual-diagnosis treatment. Patients are thoroughly evaluated for psychological factors that may be contributing to the substance problems. Substance use often begins as a way of self-medicating the symptoms of underlying conditions, such as depression and anxiety. Once these factors are known, they can be treated, and patients can be closely monitored by psychiatrists and mental health professionals. Tracking these issues increases the likelihood that the patient will make lasting changes.

Focusing on Counseling

Most dual-diagnosis programs provide an extensive counseling component. Patients participate in individual and group therapy, with an emphasis on family therapy. Many times, chronic dynamics within the family or core support system can contribute to the patient’s substance abuse. Skilled family therapists can help patients begin healing those issues. In addition, families learn about addiction and recovery, so they can be supportive of the patient.

Considering the high incidence of co-occurring mental health conditions in people with substance abuse problems, it is encouraging that many treatment programs are incorporating dual-diagnosis models. Patients may have more success staying clean and sober and making permanent changes when the root of the problem is acknowledged and treated alongside the substance abuse issue.