Co-Occurring Disorders / Dual Diagnosis


The term dual diagnosis is used to refer to people with both a substance abuse problem and a mental health disorder.  Common example diagnoses include depression and alcohol abuse, psychosis and hallucinogenic use, or anxiety and opiate abuse.  The possible dual diagnosis range is very broad and includes the full spectrum of mental health issues and abuse of substances.


How Common is Dual Diagnosis?

Co-occurring disorders are widespread and affect millions of people in the United States.  The Department of Veterans Affairs reports that up to 8% of people will experience PTSD at some point in their lives.  Many of those people turn to drugs or alcohol as a means of soothing their symptoms.  As the opioid crisis rages on, affecting hundreds of thousands of people every year, many opioid users will find their drug use triggers further problems with mental health as they struggle to cope.  The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) estimates that 17% of American adults have co-occurring disorders that fall under the umbrella of mental health and substance abuse.


Treating patients with co-occurring disorders is tricky because both disorders must be treated simultaneously in order for recovery to be effective and last over the long term.  Without proper therapy, it is often impossible to determine whether abuse of the substance has caused psychiatric symptoms, or whether the patient was experiencing pre-existing mental health issues and chose to self-medicate with substances.  Certain drugs induce anxiety, depression, and hallucinations, and most mental health disorders in turn increase the patient’s likelihood of becoming dependent on drugs or alcohol.  Poor mental health and substance abuse are so closely intertwined that treatment facilities need to exercise caution when developing treatment plans for dual diagnosis individuals.


When a person with co-occurring disorders receives treatment for only one of those disorders, their recovery is likely to be difficult and short-lived.  Patients who receive only mental health treatment may still struggle with symptoms of addiction, which makes prolonged relief from mental health issues rare and elusive.  Those who only seek addiction treatment without addressing their mental health and the environment that contributed to the addiction in the first place will find it much harder to stay clean when faced with the same life problems and no new coping mechanisms to replace self-medication.  To achieve lasting recovery and overall wellness, a patient’s treatment plan must address all contributing issues at the same time.


Dual Diagnosis Treatment


Recognizing that treating patients with a dual diagnosis requires special care, Soul Surgery provides targeted treatment protocols by professional staff experienced with a wide range of co-occurring disorders.  Treatment strategies are tailored for each patient’s individual needs, and can include counseling, medication-assisted treatment (MAT), twelve-step group meetings, and cutting-edge treatment options like eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EDMR) and bio-feedback therapy.  Patients are also encouraged to take advantage of Soul Surgery’s gym, private chef, and fun athletic activities to nurture the physical body along with the mind.  Using partial hospitalization programs or intensive outpatient programs, Soul Surgery provides a holistic and healing environment dedicated to treating dual diagnosis patients using proven, evidence-based methods.

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