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Dual Diagnosis New London CT

The term dual diagnosis refers to a co-existing or co-occurring mental health and substance abuse disorders. When a person receives a dual diagnosis, it typically means they have a mental health disorder and an addiction to alcohol and/or drugs at the same time.


Mental health disorders and addiction

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, more than 8.9 million people have co-existing disorders. They may not all be formally diagnosed with a dual diagnosis. In fact, only about 7.4 percent of people get treatment for both of the conditions involved, suggests the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, and about 55.8 percent get no treatment at all.

A person who is suffering from a mental health disorder often turns to drugs and/or alcohol in order to cope with the illness. Likewise, a person who abuses alcohol and/or drugs often triggers an underlying mental health disorder. The bottom line: One thing often brings out another.


Common Mental Disorders in Dual Diagnoses

Mental disorders often result in difficulties in coping with social situations, which can increase the risk of substance abuse and addiction. These are some common mental disorders that may accompany a dual diagnosis.

  • Clinical depression causes feelings of deep sadness, hopelessness, low self-esteem, and guilt.
  • Generalized anxiety disorder is characterized by intense fears that are very real, although they’re often irrational and interfere with daily functioning.
  • A panic disorder is an anxiety disorder marked by episodes of extreme panic, during which physical symptoms like a racing heartbeat, dizziness, and cold sweats can increase the intensity of the panic attack.
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder is another anxiety disorder that leaves the patient performing compulsive and often repetitive actions, which help reduce the intensity of intrusive and unwelcome thoughts.
  • Bipolar disorder is a mood disorder characterized by periods of intense mania and engaging in risky behaviors, alternating with periods of intense depression that leave the patient despondent.
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder triggers nightmares, flashbacks, and avoidant behaviors stemming from unresolved fear and anger due to a traumatic event.
  • Personality disorders are characterized by a skewed perception of self, which makes social interactions uncomfortable and relationships difficult to maintain.
  • Schizophrenia is a severe mental illness that skews one’s perceptions of the world and causes delusions, disjointed thoughts, and psychotic episodes that make social functioning very difficult.


Treatments for Co-Occurring Disorders

A major difference between traditional addiction treatment centers and dual diagnosis treatment centers is the integration of addiction treatment with the treatment of the mental illness. Although treatment for each disorder is separate, the mental health team collaborates across diagnosis lines to ensure that each disorder is addressed with the other in mind.

  • Pharmacotherapy is the administering of medications to control certain mental illnesses.
  • Group therapy is a time-honored therapy mode that draws on individuals’ universality of experience and different stages in the recovery process and promotes information sharing and peer support.
  • Family therapy helps repair damaged relationships between family members, helps rebuild trust, and promotes functional and healthy communication.
  • Individual cognitive-behavioral therapy helps patients see the relationship between the way we perceive the world and the way we think, behave, and feel. Cognitive-behavioral therapy works to bring about self-awareness and the ability to evaluate thoughts, feelings, and emotions before acting on them and to revise inaccurate beliefs.
  • Didactic therapy is emotionally neutral group instruction about the realities of addiction and abuse that helps patients change their irrational thought patterns and promote realistic perceptions and beliefs.


Aftercare Services for Co-Existing Disorders

Aftercare is an essential part of any addiction treatment program. After treatment is complete, an individualized program is put into place to help prevent relapse. Patients draw on coping skills learned in treatment and apply them to the “real” world with ongoing support through therapy, counseling, self-help and peer support groups, medication reviews, and regular meetings with a case worker who assesses for and addresses changing needs.

If you’re seeking dual diagnosis addiction treatment or need help finding a program that works for you, the addiction specialists at Drug Treatment Center New London can help. Give us a call at (860) 207-8356.


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