Does Mental Illness Impact Recovery From Drug Addiction?

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Can people who suffer from mental illness recover from drug addiction?

About 30 percent of adults ages 18 to 25 experienced a mental illness in the past year, according to a new report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). For those ages 50 and older, about 14 percent struggled with a diagnosable mental, behavioral, or emotional disorder.

  • Five percent of the adult population suffered from a serious mental illness in the past year about 9 million adults seriously considered suicide in the past year. Of those, 2.5 million made plans to commit suicide and 1.1 million attempted suicide.
  • Women were more likely than men to have a mental illness in the past year (23 percent vs. nearly 17 percent).
  • Adults experiencing mental illness in the past year were three times as likely to have met the criteria for substance dependence or abuse than those who had not experienced mental illness (20 percent vs. 6 percent). Those with a serious mental illness had a rate of substance abuse or dependence of about 25 percent.
  • Nearly 2 million youth aged 12 to 17 experienced a major depressive episode in the past year. That population was also more likely to have used illicit drugs

After looking at all the research and having the experience of treating people with a dual diagnosis, I see many commonalities in certain behaviors and disorders and the individual’s drug of choice.  The issue in treating a person with a co-occurring behavior as well as an addiction both issues must be treated effectively. Often times many Drug and Alcohol Treatment Centers claim to treat a dual diagnosis patient, but do not provide all the key elements to effectively diagnose and treat appropriately.  If we accept the statistic that up to 85% of people struggling with an Alcohol or Substance Addiction have a Dual Diagnosis we can also accept that potentially many of these patients will not receive all the key essential components of treatment necessary to create long term sobriety.  

The essential steps in treating a dual diagnosis consist of firstly seeing a qualified Physician i.e. a Psychiatrist to determine if a dual Diagnosis is present.  If a Dual Diagnosis is occurring, then the determination of whether Pharmacological Intervention is necessary.  Well qualified physicians that are successful in treating a Dual Diagnosis have a skill in choosing the right prescription for the Co-occurring Disease. This should be done within the first few days of treatment.  Generally many of the drugs prescribed for co-occurring behaviors such Antidepressants, Anti-Anxiety Medications and medications for ADD or ADHD could take 4-6 weeks to achieve therapeutics levels before positive results can be achieved.  During this period the patient should continue to be under the supervision of the doctor to see if any side effects occur or if there might be a need to adjust the dose. As a final suggestion when researching a Drug and Alcohol Treatment Program be prudent and review all aspects of the Program especially the staff page which will give you great insight into the competency and qualifications of the Medical and Clinical Staff.

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How to Choose a Drug Treatment Center

If you are a loved one of somebody suffering from the disease of addiction, and you are at the point of searching for a drug treatment center in Florida, or in any other state for that matter, as a family member you should make sure that the program meets certain standards of care.

  • One of the most important things right off is to make sure the facility is licensed in that state to provide the services they are telling you they are going to provide. As a consumer that should not be over looked. 
  • Dealing with choosing a drug treatment center can bring a lot of anxiety and makes it difficult to choose the best drug rehab for your loved one.  Keep searching and get all the questions answered.  
  • Make sure the drug treatment center takes into account that each individual should be treated as such and their treatment plan should be designed and implemented to best suit your loved one individually as no two individuals are the same. 
  • Furthermore there is a lot more information as a consumer you should be looking for in searching for a drug treatment center. 
  • As treatment professionals we are bound by ethics to provide the best care possible when we are dealing with peoples’ lives. Is there a perfect drug treatment?  Is addiction treatment a perfect science?  Absolutely not, but there are different models of treatment, and one of the best models I believe is the holistic model for drug treatment

The holistic model addresses the emotional, physical, and spiritual aspects of the disease of addiction. Research shows that if we as treatment professionals don’t address all the components of the disease in treatment the chance of success decreases drastically. 

In choosing a drug treatment center be very aware of the potential need to treat a dual diagnosis as part of treatment.  The success rate of treating addictions could have less than impressive outcomes due to the fact all aspects of the disease are not diagnosed and treated properly.  To this point why not consider state of the art addiction treatment dealing with addiction and co-occurring behavior. 

In my experience I have seen individuals go through several drug treatment centers with the same model and have been unsuccessful in achieving long term sobriety. So why not try something different?


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