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.

Noticing Signs of Early Addiction

The rising number in deaths due to addiction around the country is alarming and cause for taking a closer look at our friends and family who might be in danger. So many people think that it will never happen to someone like him or her, or someone they know and love, but the reality of the matter is that no one is safe from a disease like addiction. Sometimes, family members and friends of someone who was lost to addiction look back on the lost life and can’t identify where it all went wrong. Unfortunately, some addicts can hide their secret so well that not even their closest friends know something is wrong. Other times, the addict is in complete denial of their problem and attempts to assure loved ones that they have it under control. For these reasons, it’s important that people are able to pinpoint where things may be taking a turn for the worse.

Every journey down addiction road is different, but with that, many of the tell tale signs are the same. Nexus Recovery Services blog has identified 5 stages of addiction, and how realizing these stages while they’re happening can save a life in the long run.

1. Experimentation

The first stage of addiction is experimentation. This is a tough sign to identify because so many people drink alcohol or need to take prescription drugs for physical or mental pain. Some of the main reasons for experimentation are to “take the edge off”, to fit in, or to enhance performance in some cases. If your friend is taking prescription medications for a legitimate reason, it isn’t cause for a red flag. If however, they should be fully recovered and they’re still seeking new sorts of pain relief, this might be the beginning of an experimental problem. It’s also a bad sign when your friend or family member move up in the level of drugs they’re using; say marijuana to cocaine.

2. Regular use 

The next stage of addiction as identified by Nexus Recovery Services blog post is regular use. If you and your buddies go out and drink every Saturday night, it’s not much cause for concern. If however he or she begins drinking alone in non-social situations, or makes alcohol or drug use a patterned habit, it could be a red flag.

3. Risky use

This stage of addiction is a sure sign of an underlying problem. Where the first two stages might be fuzzy on if you should step in or not, this stage is where intervention definitely needs to occur. When alcohol or drug use starts affecting the person’s everyday life, something is wrong. Some examples include putting others at risk by drinking and driving, causing a strain on their relationships, putting themselves in financial troubles to fund their habits or pay for wrongdoings while under the influence. Things are only going to get worse in the next stages of addiction.

4. Dependence

Dependence happens right before there is a full-blown addiction. If the person starts to suffer from withdrawal symptoms when they’re not under the influence, their body is beginning to depend on the substance. This doesn’t yet mean that the person is addicted, but it is a symptom. They may also begin to build up a tolerance in this stage, meaning they need more to feel the same or might move onto a stronger substance altogether.

5. Addiction

The last stage is full-blown addiction. Even if the person is experiencing harmful effects due to the substance, they’re still using it. The addiction becomes out of control when it’s compulsive and controls the addict’s life and relationships. It will be extremely difficult if not impossible for someone in this stage to recover from his or her addiction without the help of medical professionals.

If you feel that your might be traveling down the path of addiction, there is no shame in asking for help early. If you see your friend or family member entering these stages of addiction, it would be wise to contact a medical professional for advice and help.