Addressing a dual diagnosis in short-term rehab

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There are many paths that can lead to alcoholism or drug addiction. For some, addiction is the result of consciously abusing and misusing mind-altering substance. Others become addicted largely due to their social and environmental circumstances. But there are numerous people who become addicted incidentally after using alcohol or drugs to self-medicate. Oftentimes these individuals suffer from other physical or psychological conditions that are the catalysts for their addictions. Fortunately, there are many resources available to help patients who suffer from addiction and co-occurring disorders, including our short-term rehab in Utah.

Since it’s important to be aware of how addiction develops and what constitutes a risk factor for substance abuse disorder, we have compiled some useful information on dual diagnoses. There are quite a lot of misconceptions when it comes to addiction and dual diagnosis, so we wanted to answer some key questions, including what a dual diagnosis is, how it’s treated at our short-term rehab in Utah, and what the benefits of short-term dual diagnosis treatment are.

What is a “dual diagnosis”?

We tend to consider addiction as a solitary disease rather than considering how or whether addiction has complex interactions with other disorders; however, many of the individuals who suffer from addiction also suffer from co-occurring physical or psychological disorders. Particularly with the latter, research has shown that it’s quite common for individuals to suffer from both an addiction and a psychological or emotional disorder. This tends to be most common with disorders like depression, anxiety disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, and bipolar disorder. According to the most recent data, an estimated 45 percent of all individuals who suffer from substance abuse problems have a co-occurring or comorbid mental health disorder. These individuals have what’s referred to as a dual diagnosis.

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The importance of dual-diagnosis treatment

Historically, addiction was treated separately from any other co-occurring diagnoses an individual might have. For the most part, the perception was that addiction was unrelated to any other disorders that were present, but that couldn’t be further from the case. Although the specific relationship can vary depending on what the secondary diagnosis is, there are several key ways that addiction can be related to a comorbid psychological disorder.

As mentioned previously, many individuals become addicted to alcohol or drugs after using the substances to self-medicate for an extended period of time. In other words, these individuals are attempting to relieve their psychological and emotional distress through the use of addictive chemical substances. In such instances, a pre-existing psychological disorder was a direct catalyst for the eventual addiction. On the other hand, if the addiction was the first disorder to occur, a common theory is that the neurochemical changes that result from chronic substance abuse influenced the development of a co-occurring secondary disorder. In other words, the changes in the brain that resulted from a substance abuse problem had the effect of attributing to a psychological or emotional disorder. A third possibility is that, provided that addiction and other disorders affect similar areas in the brain, there’s naturally an elevated chance that the development of one type of disorder would coincide with the development of the other.

Whatever the case might be, the bottom line is that addiction and comorbid disorders have some type of relationship. For this reason, it would be ineffective if an individual’s addiction treatment didn’t also address the mental or emotional disorder. An individual with a dual diagnosis has the best possible chances of achieving lasting sobriety if his or her treatment addresses both the addiction and the co-occurring diagnosis.

Short-term rehab for dual-diagnosis patients

Compared to long-term addiction treatment, our short-term rehab in Utah is a period of concentrated, fast-paced treatment. During this time, a patient participates in psychotherapy and a variety of other treatments that have been specially designed to help him or her achieve sobriety and mitigate the effects of the secondary diagnosis. But how does a short-term rehab for a dual diagnosis work?

There’s some variation depending on what the secondary diagnosis might be, but an important factor in designing a dual-diagnosis curriculum is determining how the mental or emotional disorder relates to the substance abuse problem. For instance, patients who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder will receive treatment that helps them overcome the lingering effects of prior trauma as part of their recovery journeys. Alternately, patients who suffer from bipolar disorder or depression might require psychotropic medications to achieve mental wellness.

It’s important to remember that dual-diagnosis treatment at our short-term rehab in Utah addresses both addiction and the co-occurring mental or emotional disorder in parallel. Many of the therapy sessions in which a patient participates will be helpful in treating both diagnoses. Rather than treating them separately, dual-diagnosis treatment approaches the two disorders as if they are part of a single continuum. As such, there is no single form of treatment that is definitively designed for one disorder or another; instead, the curriculum and approach of the short-term rehab is determined on an individual or case-by-case basis, ensuring that each patient’s needs remain at the forefront of the rehabilitation process.

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