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Dual-Diagnosis Rehabilitation for Substance Abuse and Mental Illness

Almost all substances that are commonly abused cause the brain to release high amounts of dopamine, the chemical that produces feelings of pleasure. In dual-diagnosis patients, meaning those who suffer from both mental illness and substance abuse, the release of dopamine through substance abuse often masks the disturbing effects of the underlying mental illness. To take the simplest example, a patient who suffers from clinical depression will turn to abuse of cocaine, marijuana, opiates, or opioids as the feelings of pleasure that these drugs produce will transport him or her from the depths of depression to the heights of euphoria. Use of illegal drugs also enables the dual-diagnosis patient to avoid the stigma of a diagnosis of mental illness, especially once the patient becomes addicted and enters a denial mode in which he or she also denies the presence of a drug addiction problem.

The Treatment Process For Dual Diagnosed Addicts

Treatment of the dual-diagnosis patient almost always must begin in a residential or hospital setting. Detoxification is extremely necessary to deal with physical withdrawal symptoms and to allow the patient’s body to rid itself of traces of the abused substance.  Detoxification as a first step is crucial, because mental illness must often be treated with medications that could be dangerous or deadly when combined with even trace amounts of narcotics or hallucinogens. Once the patient is detoxified, a mental health professional with experience in the treatment of substance abuse can assess the patient’s condition and diagnose a specific form of mental illness. This diagnosis guides the rehabilitation team as it proceeds with medical treatment for the mental condition that the patient had been masking through drug abuse.

If you or a loved one has been suffering from symptoms of mental illness, such as depression, suicidal thoughts, unusual visions or imaginary voices, or extreme nervousness and anxiety, while using alcohol or drugs to overcome these feelings, please contact our 24-hour help line at 1-888-439-3435 Who Answers? or fill out our contact form to see how dual-diagnosis rehabilitation programs can help those who suffer from both mental illness and drug abuse.

Other Aspects of Dual Diagnosis Drug Rehab

Intensive and Behavioral Modification Treatment Models in Addictions

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When people first enter addictions treatment, they may need a substantial amount of support as well as assistance with learning new methods of coping with situations that influence their substance abuse. Intensive and behavioral modification treatment models provide this help and support.

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The rehabilitation process also includes counseling, especially as no medical treatment for mental illness is foolproof. The goal of the counseling and behavior modification therapy is to ensure that the patient will obtain proper medical help rather than return to self-medication through drug abuse in the event he or she is confronted with a return of the symptoms of mental illness that led to prior drug addiction. Counseling also revolves around helping the dual-diagnosis patient comply with his or her medication schedule, and to be aware that mental illness is a biological illness about which there need not be any shame. Removal of the stigma of seeking treatment helps the dual-diagnosis patient to understand that the only way to treat mental illness is by being open about any recurrence of symptoms or fear thereof, rather than turning to harmful and addictive substances to mask the effects of mental illness.