Addiction and mental health problems are often closely linked. It’s very common for people with a substance use disorder such as drug addiction or alcoholism to also suffer from a range of psychiatric or mood disorders, including:
- Bipolar disorder
- Anxiety and fear disorders
- Generalized anxiety disorder
- Obsessive compulsive disorder
- Panic disorder
- Personality disorders
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
These mental health issues in people with addiction are referred to as dual diagnosis or co-occurring disorders.
With multiple board-certified psychiatrists on staff, Positive Sobriety Institute (PSI) has the expertise to meet all of our patient’s mental health needs. Our experts conduct a thorough assessment at the outset of treatment to ensure patients receive an accurate diagnosis. Our multidisciplinary team then integrates treatment for mental health disorders with an individualized addiction recovery plan. After addiction treatment concludes, we provide ongoing support to help patients maintain sobriety and manage dual disorders through our Continuing Care program, for as long as patients need it.
Signs of Co-Occurring Disorders
Signs of dual diagnosis or co-occurring disorder vary depending on the mental illness and the type of substance abuse/addiction. There are many variables that can affect a specific individual. For instance, a person suffering from depression who is addicted to alcohol might display different symptoms than a person who has bipolar disorder that is addicted to opiates. It is important to recognize the signs associated with a dual diagnosis or co-occurring disorder so that you or your loved one can receive the appropriate treatment.
Signs and symptoms of a dual disorder include:
- Anxiety, depression, and panic attacks that intensify without access to alcohol or drugs
- Erratic behavior and mood swings
- Anger or rage
- Intense excitement
- Reckless behaviors such as careless driving, sexual promiscuity and spending sprees
- Irritability or edginess
- Inability to keep employment
- Inability to maintain relationships
- Poor judgment and decision-making
- Concentration problems
- Experiencing delusions
- Poor appetite and sleep patterns
The Treatment Process for Co-Occurring Disorders
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, about one-third of those who abuse alcohol and more than half of those addicted to drugs have at least one serious mental illness. Of those diagnosed with a mental illness, about one in three also abuse either alcohol or drugs.
Years ago, treatment for addiction and treatment for psychiatric or mood disorders were separate endeavors. Today, experts at the best addiction treatment centers, including PSI, understand that substance use disorders and mental health disorders are often deeply intertwined.
Giving patients the best chance of successfully overcoming addiction means also helping patients manage or overcome dual disorders that can lead to relapse by compromising their overall physical and mental well-being. By integrating addiction rehab with mental health care, patients address all of the issues contributing to their addiction or those that have the potential to impact their recovery, while also creating the conditions that lay the groundwork for many years of sobriety and health.
Individuals treated for a dual diagnosis at PSI can benefit from the following treatment modalities:
- Psychotherapy: During psychotherapy, patients will learn ways to cope with their illness and understand how their addiction and mental health disorder impacts their behavior. Frequent one-on-one cognitive therapy greatly improves the negative symptoms associated with both substance abuse and mental illness.
- Support Groups: Individuals with dual diagnosis or co-occurring disorders often feel isolated, embarrassed and ashamed. Support groups provide a healthy outlet that allows people to connect and share experiences in an open and safe environment. Support groups give patients an opportunity to form bonds and offer each other encouragement during recovery.
- Medications: In some instances, individuals with a dual diagnosis will work with doctors to find the right combination of medication for both the mental health and substance abuse components of a dual diagnosis.
- Holistic Therapy: Holistic therapy is used in combinations with traditional talk therapy and medication to treat the whole person – mind, body and spirit. Holistic therapies include: nutrition programs, exercise, massage, hypnotherapy, yoga, meditation and acupuncture.
- Comprehensive Aftercare Plan: Patients that complete the formal inpatient or outpatient dual diagnosis treatment program at PSI will have resources for long-term recovery. Individuals will continue to participate in support groups, individual therapy, 12-step programs and meetings with counselors.
The Importance of Accurate Assessments
Mental health conditions impact the brain. Substances such as drugs and alcohol also act on the brain. When drugs and alcohol are combined with pre-existing mental health problems, the substance use can significantly impact the progression and symptoms of mental health conditions.
Drugs and alcohol can worsen symptoms of mental health problems by interfering with medications such as antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications and mood stabilizers. Drug and alcohol use can also interfere with sleep and daily routines, which can also exacerbate symptoms or make it more difficult for patients to manage mental health disorders. Research also indicates that alcohol and drug abuse can increase symptoms of mental illness or trigger new symptoms in those who are predisposed.
At the same time, drug and alcohol use can also mask symptoms of underlying mental health conditions. When a person undergoes detox from drugs and alcohol, symptoms that were hidden or mistaken for behavior caused by intoxication or drug use may become more apparent.
At PSI, our team of multidisciplinary experts, led by board-certified psychiatrists in consultation with our experienced nurse practitioners, therapists and counselors, carefully and thoroughly assess each patient to determine any and all behavioral, personality, health and social issues. Through a careful history and exam, our team works to determine which issues are due to substance use and which can be attributed to underlying mental health conditions. Working in collaboration with an internal medicine physician, our psychiatrists also consider possible neurological or other conditions that may mimic addiction or mental health disorders. When our assessment indicates a neurological condition, our team refers patients and consults with neurologists and other specialists at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.
We then work closely with patients to treat their addiction, deal with the mental health condition, manage medications and monitor progress to ensure that each patient receives care that is tailored specifically to them, with their unique needs and challenges taken into account.
Prevalence of Dual Disorders Among Professionals
It’s sometimes assumed that those who have achieved success in their work lives or hold a high status in their communities are immune to addictive disorders. In reality, demanding jobs come with high levels of stress, prompting some professionals to turn to mood-altering substances to relieve stress.
Professionals may lean on drugs to soothe mental distress, or self-medicate because they feel they have no time to properly deal with health issues or mental distress. Many individuals may use alcohol or drugs in an attempt to relieve the symptoms of conditions such as depression, bipolar disorder or anxiety.
Yet professionals are also prone to denying the extent of their struggles, out of shame, embarrassment, or the feeling that they can handle the condition on their own and they don’t need help. Denial is common in both substance abuse and in mental health conditions. Professionals may also fear the impact on their job, reputations, and even professional licenses.
PSI understands that mental illness and addiction share many of the same symptoms, and that admitting these struggles can be exceptionally difficult for those accustomed to being seen as self-reliant, successful leaders in their job, family and community. We are committed to helping our colleagues achieve sobriety and relief from mental health disorders so that they can return to pursuing their professional goals, enjoying healthy relationships with their loved ones, and living a long and fulfilling life.
Why PSI is the Best Dual Diagnosis Treatment Center in Chicago
PSI understands that it is essential that a person with a dual diagnosis receive immediate and comprehensive treatment. Drug or alcohol addiction that co-occurs with a mental health disorder requires specialized treatment from psychiatrists, addiction medicine physicians, nurses and clinicians who understand the complex association between the two diseases and can effectively treat these conditions at the same time—a specialty not all addiction treatment centers are equipped to handle.
After assessing and diagnosing the person, our highly trained, multidisciplinary medical professionals at PSI will work together to develop a personalized plan for long-term recovery success. Our integrative and individualized treatment plans are successful at treating the complexities of both the mental health disorder and addiction of a dual diagnosis. We treat the whole person and give them the necessary skills and tools needed to live a happy, healthy, and productive life.
The Long-Term Effects of Untreated Dual Disorders
Many people with co-occurring disorders go undiagnosed or untreated. There are many reasons for this, such as financial issues, a person’s own perception of their illness and separate treatment systems for addiction and mental health care. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, untreated mental health disorders often lead to the development of co-occurring or dual disorders. Mental health disorders often are the cause of substance abuse because people self-medicate with drugs and alcohol. When the effects of the drugs or alcohol wear off, the mental health disorder will resurface, and the person will again use drugs or alcohol to cope with their symptoms. If the symptoms of the mental health disorder go untreated, it makes it more difficult for the individual to stop using drugs or alcohol.
There are various long-term effects associated with untreated dual diagnosis such as:
- More frequent and severe negative episodes
- Contraction of infectious diseases
- Health ailments
- Early death
Individuals with a dual diagnosis or co-occurring disorder have two separate complex illnesses that need to be treated simultaneously to effectively heal the patient. PSI experts have a breadth of experience in treating dual diagnosis through the latest medical, psychiatric and holistic approaches to ensure lasting recovery, long-term health and well-being.