The definition of a dual diagnosis treatment is a program that treats a person’s addiction alongside mental health issues.  This treatment option can be started before general addiction programs begin or in the midst of one if a co-existing condition hadn’t been identified beforehand.  A treatment center with qualified addiction psychiatrists can more effectively help the patient through rehabilitation by addressing all of the conditions affecting the individual in a more encompassing method.

How a Dual Diagnosis Can Work for Mental Health

Though there has been a lot of talk about dual diagnosis treatment in the field lately, not all professionals (and certainly not all non-professionals) know exactly what the phrase means or are using it correctly.  As explained above, dual diagnosis is meant to address issues of addiction and mental health simultaneously.  As such, there needs to be not only treatment adapted to the specific needs of that individual, but also such that it can incorporate goals of sobriety and recovery from mental illness.  This is often easier said than done, but working within one of these “combined” programs is a solid foundation for the journey.

“The ‘true’ dually diagnosed patient is someone who is chemically dependent and who also meets criteria for an independent, non-substance related mental disorder.”  This means that the psychiatrist must be able to determine if the mental disorder began before the addiction or came about as a result of it.  Once this distinction has been made, the professional can better (and continuously) adapt the care to best suit the needs of the individual, since their condition will likely change and treatment therefore should be adjusted as necessary.  The addiction psychiatrist should attend to and observe the patient throughout this entire process to provide the most effective treatment available and to best support the individual.

Dual diagnosis is, in many ways, a partnership between the patient and the psychiatrist.  They work together through a program that combats two separate, but not unrelated issues, formulating management strategies to aid the individual in treatment long after the treatment period has ended.  Considering the effect that drug and alcohol abuse have on brain chemistry, it’s no wonder that there is an increased likelihood that a person might then develop mental health issues alongside an addiction.  It’s also no wonder that a program that can address both conditions is the most effective choice for those who fall into this category.

“About a third of all people experiencing mental illnesses and about half of people living with severe mental illnesses also experience substance abuse.”  Clearly, there is an enormous demographic that could benefit, or who already has benefited, from dual diagnosis treatment.  Despite its effectiveness, there is still a surprising number of people who are unaware that this encompassing program type exists, who believe that therapy for addiction alone, of whatever format, is their only option.  Therefore, like so many other pieces of mental health and addiction, there needs to be an increased education and awareness of the ways in which people can approach recovery.

There are a wide variety of symptoms of substance abuse in general, but there are also a lot of screening tools available and used in qualified facilities to most accurately identify what the individual is facing.  Depending on the severity of the issues at hand, the individual may need different levels of intensity in treatment, but the goal is always the same: to help that person work through addiction and mental illness to reach full recovery.  If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, mental illness, or both, get in touch with The Bergand Group. The Bergand Group is Maryland’s leading addiction recovery center, and offers support for those struggling with addiction and mental health issues.  We also offer dual diagnosis programs to best address such situations.

About The Bergand Group:

At The Bergand Group in Baltimore and Harford County, Maryland, our therapists have more than twenty years of experience in the mental health and addiction fields. Our focus is on providing comprehensive mental health care and appropriate care for addictive disorders. We offer both alcohol rehab and drug rehabilitation. If you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol or substance addiction, there is help available. We also offer several other services, including family therapy and counseling. We can help. Contact us today.