According to dualdiagnosis.org, an organization specializing in the treatment of individuals with a dual diagnosis of substance addiction and mental health disorders, substance abuse is not uncommon amongst those struggling with a depressive disorder. Because depression is associated with bouts of prolonged sadness and feelings of hopelessness, it makes sense that some individuals would turn to drugs or alcohol to soothe such feelings.
While dual diagnosis, also referred to as a co-occurring disorder, is often associated with addiction and depression, it can also be linked to other mood disorders as well, such as anxiety, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder. Treating co-occurring disorders requires a two-pronged approach, meaning the addiction to drugs or alcohol must be addressed along with the psychological component that fuels the addiction. In this article, we will take a closer look at outpatient treatment for co-occurring disorders and how they can help better your life.
HOW ARE CO-OCCURRING DISORDERS DIAGNOSED?
Before addressing how an outpatient program may be able to help with a co-occurring disorder, let’s take a moment to focus on how they are diagnosed. Although the link between mental illness and substance abuse may not be immediately apparent, the two are more intertwined than you may think. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), changes in one’s mental health is almost always precipitated by substance abuse.
Because co-occurring disorders have only recently been recognized as an official disorder, there are no standard protocols in place for arriving at a diagnosis as symptoms can vary widely from patient to patient. The same applies to the severity of those symptoms as well. After all, it is rare that any two individuals would be struggling with the same substance abuse and mental health problems at the same time, which helps to explain why previous protocols entailed treating these issues separately. However, several studies are showing that an integrated approach toward treatment is far more effective.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF A CO-OCCURRING DISORDER?
The symptoms of a co-occurring disorder can vary depending on the substances an individual is taking and also the mental illness. However, certain symptoms have proven to be consistent amongst a large number of people struggling with mental health problems and substance abuse simultaneously, including
- An inability to function normally without alcohol or drugs
- Extreme behavioral changes
- Withdrawal symptoms from lack of drugs or alcohol
- An inability to maintain self-control
- An increased drug or alcohol tolerance
- Partaking in risky behavior to maintain a drug or alcohol habit
HOW CAN OUTPATIENT TREATMENT HELP WITH ADDICTION AND DEPRESSION?
Now that we have a general understanding of co-occurring disorders, let’s take a look at how outpatient treatments can be beneficial for those who are struggling with substance abuse and depression. Although more emphasis is placed on overcoming the physical addiction to drugs and alcohol, many outpatient programs do offer counseling to help address the psychological component of addiction. Many drug and alcohol treatment facilities are staffed with psychiatrists who can evaluate the patient’s mental state and determine whether or not antidepressants may aid in their recovery. This approach is no different than medication-assisted detox that is designed to help patients overcome severe withdrawal symptoms.
In both cases, medication can help make the journey towards sobriety much easier. Of course, medication is only one aspect of outpatient treatment for addiction and depression. Most facilities are well aware of the link between substance abuse and mental health disorders and how the two can alter one’s life. As such, psychologists and psychiatrists will work toward exploring underlying issues that may have contributed to both problems by using cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), psychodynamic therapy, and other forms of talk therapy. During these sessions, patients also learn how to cope with past and present-day triggers that could potentially result in relapse.
HOW DO YOU KNOW IF OUTPATIENT REHAB IS THE RIGHT CHOICE?
When it comes to overcoming any addiction, there is no such thing as a one size fits all approach. Some people may respond to one type of treatment better than they do with others; outpatient rehab is no exception in this regard. Because patients can freely leave an outpatient program, there is a higher probability for relapse. After all, it is easier to fall into old patterns of behavior while you’re away from the facility. Generally speaking, outpatient rehab would be a good fit for someone who is in a depressive state and struggling with a mild or new addiction. If you need help overcoming a co-occurring disorder, you’re urged to speak with one of our friendly and compassionate representatives today at 772-266-5320.