The field of addiction medicine falls under the umbrella of mental health. Both alcohol and substance use disorders have a home In the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V). At this point, to call addiction something other than a mental health disorder would be erroneous. Substance use disorders have a debilitating effect on people’s lives in the same ways as anxiety, depression, bipolar and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
With that in mind, it is always worth reiterating how common it is in our field to treat patients who do not only have problems with drugs and alcohol, they also have a co-occurring mental illness. What is often referred to as a dual diagnosis. While it’s important to acknowledge the occurrence of two or more disorders affecting one person, it is even more salient to treat the various disorders at the same time. Treating one, while neglecting the other, is typically a recipe for relapse.
In many cases, the symptoms of conditions like depression or PTSD lead people down an ineluctable path to addiction. Coping with untreated mental illness is trying, to be sure; and drugs and alcohol can keep some of one’s symptoms at bay—for a time. However, continued substance use for self-medication, actually makes the symptoms worse. What’s more, over time dependence develops and an alcohol or substance use disorder. It doesn’t always work out that way, but it is more prevalent than you’d might think.
At Synergy Group Services our goal is always to address both the addiction and any other form of mental illness that may be present. In many cases, clients don’t even know they meet the criteria for such disorders, which is why screening is of the utmost importance early on in treatment. For those who do know that have a mental health disorder, and are self-medicating the symptoms, it is vital that we all do our part to encourage them to seek help before the matter becomes even more dire.
PTSD Awareness Month
The paradox about mental illness is the fact that people living with it need help more than anything, yet they resist treatment for several reasons. One of the greatest obstacles to seeking help that they face is the stigma that hovers over brain diseases. Seeking help acknowledges that one has a problem, and fearing what other people will think or say can be debilitating. It is paramount that everyone working in the field, those who’ve sought treatment and are in recovery and the general public do what they can to show compassion. Making people feel comfortable when talking about their symptoms will give them the motivation to seek help.
Every June is PTSD Awareness Month, a time to encourage people to get a better understanding of the condition, including the symptoms and treatments which have proven to be effective. By doing so, more people will be inclined to reach out for help. And not just veterans, everyone who has been touched by serious trauma.
“Greater understanding and awareness of PTSD will help Veterans and others recognize symptoms, and seek and obtain needed care.” – Dr. Paula P. Schnurr, Executive Director of the National Center for PTSD.
Please take a moment to watch a short PSA:
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Co-Occurring Disorder Treatment
Our dual diagnosis treatment facility is fully equipped to help you or a loved one begin the process of recovery from both addiction and co-occurring disorders, such as PTSD. Please reach out for help today. Those who have successfully completed our program have had great outcomes, going on to live fulfilling productive lives in recovery.
Have you have ever sought help from an addiction treatment center in recent history, whether in the United States or abroad? If so, you were probably screened for other forms of mental illness. While it is important to have knowledge of any other condition(s) that could affect the quality of one’s life so that it can be treated, the reason for diagnostic screening in treatment is because co-occurring mental health disorders can complicate addiction and one’s opportunity at achieving lasting recovery.
Symptoms of anxiety, bipolar disorder, depression, et al., can be a driving force for continued use of drugs and alcohol—even when one knows that they are harmful. That is, you know that mind-altering substances are likely worsening the symptoms you are experiencing. Addiction accompanied by co-occurring mental illness is a regular occurrence. And it really does not matter which problem precipitated the other, what is vital is that both mental health disorders are treated simultaneously.
If your screening met the criteria for one or more mental illnesses, then you are probably aware that the success of your treatment leading to long-term abstinence or clean-time rested on a multifaceted treatment approach. One that addressed both issues concurrently. Treatment centers today stress the importance of not letting co-occurring disorders linger in the shadow while addiction is being treated. Just to have symptoms of depression or PTSD rear its ugly head upon discharge and trigger a relapse.
Receiving A Dual Diagnosis
Upon completion of a program in a residential treatment center, one whose program treated both your substance use disorder and co-occurring illness (commonly referred to as a dual diagnosis), you were probably referred to a psychologist or psychiatrist offsite for continued therapy and medication maintenance. People recovering from addiction understand that their condition is incurable, which is why even after treatment they continue to work a program of spiritual maintenance.
Depression for instance, like addiction, has no known cure, which means that one must stay on top of their condition, lest its symptoms lead to a return to self-medication by way of drugs or alcohol. To be clear, treating any form of mental illness does not always involve the use of medication. In some cases, talk therapy and holistic measures can mitigate the risk of one’s symptoms getting out of hand. The point is that each case is different, and people who have been touched by both addiction and a dual diagnosis should not eschew psychiatric help, due to a fear that they will just be trading one drug for another.
Your addiction counselors, therapists and treatment psychiatric support (i.e. psychiatrists and psychologists) will work with you to determine what is the best course of action for sustained, long-term recovery. It is vital that one stays the course after discharge. Untreated or unmanaged co-occurring disorders is one most common causes of relapse, but it can be avoided.
Untreated Mental Illness
May is Mental Health Month. A time to have an active role in encouraging those who have not been screened, diagnosed and treated for mental health disorders to seek help. Hundreds of millions of people around the world are living with untreated mental illness. Those of you who have risen from the ashes of untreated mental illness can play a huge role in ending the stigma that accompanies every form of mental health disorders. The nonprofit Mental Health America asks that you, “Don’t keep mental illness to yourself. There’s power in sharing.”
People around the country have taken to social media sharing what they are going through, what they have gone through using the #mentalillnessfeelslike. Sharing that help is available, and recovery is possible.
Dual Diagnosis Treatment
If you are struggling with a dual diagnosis, please contact Synergy Group Services. We utilize the benefits of traditional counseling in conjunction alternative medicine to achieve a synergistic outcome.
In the 21st Century, our lives are ever dependent on technology to function in day to day life. Practically everyone has a computer or smartphone of some kind, and the amount of time we spend on our electronic devices could be considered unhealthy – especially when it comes to our phones.
Using social media and gaming apps on our phones can be great way to pass the time when in between appointments or responsibilities, but for some, passing the time on a smartphone can become a full time job that doesn’t pay. A large number of people use their phone hundreds of times throughout the day, a habit that can become an addiction.
Experts argue that Internet addiction has become a serious issue, a problem that can have a negative effect on a person’s life, NBC News reports. Psychologists have seen a dramatic rise in patients struggling with digital addiction.
“The negative consequences at their extreme are failing to fulfill social and work obligations,” Karin Kassab explained, a psychologist at Clarity Counseling Center in Wilmington. “These are the Facebook moms who forget to put their kids to bed or forget to pick their kids up from school. The online gamers who are spending so much time gaming that they lose their job and move back home. When we are talking Internet addiction, it is important to note, this is excessive Internet use at its extreme. The tokens are excessive Internet use and big problems at work, school or socially.”
Some experts, including Kassab, are not entirely convinced that digital addictions are real disorders, but rather methods of escape from other mental illness, according to the article. However, she will treat patients who are exhibiting symptoms of digital addiction.
At the moment, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders does not classify Internet addiction as a diagnosis for addiction or treatment.
“There’s great debate over whether Internet addiction is actually its own stand alone disorder or if it is a consequence of a co-occurring disorder,” Kassab said. “So, am I depressed therefore that manifests into me staying in, being isolated on the Internet?”
At Synergy Group Services we offer individualized treatment plans for addiction recovery.