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Understanding the Effectiveness of Treatment Following Dual Diagnosis


Drug and alcohol addiction are often linked with mental health problems. The relationship between substance abuse and mental health issues is complex, but each tends to reinforce the other in a dangerous cycle. Some chemical-dependency programs take a dual-diagnosis approach to treatment that addresses both the addiction and the underlying illness to give their patients the best chances of staying sober. Read on to learn what you need to know.

Addiction-Mental Illness Connection

There are a number of ways in which substance abuse and mental illness can be linked. Addiction may be a symptom of an untreated or undertreated mental illness. Someone suffering with symptoms of a mental illness may turn to drugs and alcohol in order to cope. A mental illness may also impair judgment, making a person engage in risky behavior such as drug abuse. In other cases, drug use can trigger the onset of a mental illness. For instance, experimenting with a drug may cause a first incidence of psychosis in a person who goes on to become schizophrenic. Finally, substance abuse exacerbates mental illness. Drugs and alcohol may inhibit the effectiveness of medications for mental illness. Substance abuse can also make mental illness symptoms more intense. Someone with an anxiety disorder may experience an intensification of symptoms when they are in withdrawal, for example.

Dual-Diagnosis Treatment

Untreated and under-treated mental illness is associated with a high incidence of relapse after rehabilitation. With a dual-diagnosis approach to treatment, both the addiction and the illness are addressed. This helps to ease the rehab process and to reduce the chances of relapse. Sometimes, dual-diagnosis therapy involves treating the chemical dependency and the mental illness at the same time. In other cases, the addiction is addressed first and the mental illness is tackled once sobriety is achieved.

At Las Encinas Hospital’s Aurora Behavioral Health Care, we take an individualized approach to substance abuse treatment so you get every tool you need in order to succeed. We can help you get on the path to recovery whenever you’re ready. To learn more, call us today at (888) 348-2165.