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Dual Diagnosis Treatment

People with drug abuse and addiction issues often struggle with co-existing mental health disorders. A dual diagnosis is the name given to simultaneous mental health and drug abuse problems, with common interactions including depression disorder and alcoholism, generalized anxiety disorder and sedative abuse, and drug-induced psychosis. While this term is often criticized for being too broad, it is useful from a clinical perspective to describe people with a range of drug abuse and mental health issues. If you or anyone you know in Washington needs dual diagnosis treatment, it is important to reach out for professional help and guidance as soon as possible.

Depression and Addiction

Depression disorder, also known as clinical depression or major depressive disorder, is a serious medical condition that affects millions of Americans every year. People suffering from depression often face additional substance abuse and dependency issues, including alcohol abuse, prescription drug abuse, and illegal drug abuse. The links between depression disorder and drug addiction are bi-directional in nature, with these disorders often affecting one another in complex and chaotic ways. For example, people with depression often turn to drugs or alcohol as a form of self-medication, with the short-term effects of psychoactive substances able to provide a sense of temporary relief from depressive episodes. This relationship can also go the other way, however, with people who are already addicted to drugs often becoming depressed as a result of their addiction. This is especially the cause for alcohol, heroin, prescription opiates, and any other drugs that depress the central nervous system (CNS).

Anxiety and Addiction

Close links also exist between anxiety disorders and drug addiction, including generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and many others. Benzodiazepine medications such as Valium and Librium are often prescribed to treat anxiety disorders, and people sometimes become physically and psychologically dependent on their psychiatric medications. Benzodiazepines are CNS depressants, and these drugs are also linked to depression disorder and other mental health conditions. Self-medication is also a factor with anxiety-related conditions, and some people abuse drugs and alcohol as a way to relieve the symptoms of mental illness.

Treatment for Co-occurring Conditions

Before dual diagnosis treatment, clinicians in Washington will normally attempt to differentiate between pre-existing mental disorders and substance-induced disorders. While this might seem like a simple distinction, complex and chaotic bi-directional relationships often exist between related disorders. For example, people with depression are more likely to use drugs as a form of self-medication, with ongoing substance abuse also increasing the chances of developing depression. Doctors also face problems attempting to define a primary disorder, with the initial problem often super-seeded by or mimicking symptoms of the secondary disorder. There are four common treatment patterns applied for dual diagnosis conditions, each of which has its pros and cons: primary treatment, sequential treatment, parallel treatment, and integrated treatment.

Primary treatment is the simplest option, with clinicians simply treating what they believe to be the primary disorder. While this method of treatment can help to alleviate symptoms of the secondary disorder, it is often ineffective. Sequential treatment deals directly with the secondary condition, but only when the primary disorder has been stabilized and treated accordingly. While this approach to treatment is effective, it can be unnecessarily complex and take a lot of time. Parallel treatment is the third option, with both primary and secondary disorders treated at the same time in an independent manner. While this method of treatment also shows a lot of promise, a second doctor both disorders as if they are a single condition. If you are living with addiction and a mental health disorder, there is hope for a better future. Pick up the phone and speak with an addiction specialist to learn more about the benefits of dual diagnosis treatment.