Treatment for Addiction: The Meaning of Dual-Diagnosis Care

Despite the fact that most Americans have personal experience with addiction — either in themselves or in a loved one — very few people truly understand the true nature of the disease. The ways to treat it successfully can be even more mystifying. In recent years, you may have heard more about dual-diagnosis addiction treatment as a powerful way to address addiction from the inside out. Read on to learn more about this new approach to addiction treatment and why it’s shown promising results.

What is Addiction? 

To start, it’s important to understand that addiction is a chronic brain disease, known in medical circles as substance use disorder. Like other chronic diseases such as diabetes or high blood pressure, addiction can have a variety of causes that all contribute over time to the disease. From your genes to your lifestyle, your mental health and childhood trauma, it all layers together to create the monster that is addiction. Treating addiction successfully requires addressing each of these causes. 

Addiction & Mental Health

Trauma and mental health difficulties are often the largest contributing factor to substance use disorder. People suffering in silence from PTSD, depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues often turn to drugs and alcohol in the hopes of numbing the pain or finding the balance that their own brain cannot provide. Paradoxically, drugs and alcohol make most mental health issues worse, creating an endless cycle of pain. Over time, addiction is the end result.  

Historically, addiction treatment focusing solely on willpower was not successful for that reason. If you don’t treat the underlying cause of the addiction, it’s likely that an individual will relapse eventually. The pain will return and the old solution of drinking or using will return as well. Even if they do manage to stay clean and sober through sheer force of will, their mental health difficulties will keep them from truly enjoying life.

Dual-Diagnosis Addiction Treatment

Dual-diagnosis addiction treatment addresses both the addiction and any underlying mental health issues at the same time. (Hence the term dual diagnosis: One diagnosis is addiction; the other, a mental health issue.) Treating the mental health issue makes it easier for the individual to stay abstinent. At the same time, clearing someone’s body of drugs and alcohol makes it easier to truly diagnose and treat any underlying mental health issues or trauma. It is often said that nothing happens until you’re clean and sober. 

Increasingly, most reputable mental health facilities offer this kind of dual-diagnosis treatment for two reasons: One, it is extremely effective at treating addiction for long-term recovery. Two, nearly everyone who suffers from addiction can benefit from mental health treatment as well. The link between addiction and trauma or mental illness is that pervasive.

Get Help for Mental Health & Addiction

If you or a loved one would benefit from dual-diagnosis addiction treatment, give us a call. Our caring admissions team can listen to your story and help you decide if dual-diagnosis addiction treatment could be right for you. It just might be the thing to plant a new seed of hope in your life.

Treatment for Addiction: The Meaning of Dual-Diagnosis Care