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.
Do you know someone living with a mental illness? Perhaps you do, and is it someone close to you, i.e., family member or friend? The chances are that you probably do and, even if you do not, you can help them this May by taking part in Mental Health Month. Unfortunately, even in the enlightened times we find ourselves living, there are still stigmas surrounding mental health disorders—illnesses which include:
- Anxiety Disorder (i.e. PTSD, OCD and Phobias)
- Bipolar Disorder
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is urging people to harness the power and reach out on their social media platforms for educating others, raise awareness and end the stigma of mental illness with hope. They ask that you take the pledge to be #StigmaFree this #MentalHealthMonth. While approximately 1 in 5 American adults experience some form of mental illness in a given year, less than 41 percent of them receive any form of mental health service, according to NAMI.
Mental illness that is left unchecked by therapy and medication can quickly spiral out of control—often times ending in tragedy. We can all have a hand in encouraging the afflicted to seek help for their illness without fear of being shamed. Recovering from mental health disorders is possible—people can lead normal and productive lives free from disgrace. But, in order for that to come to fruition, it involves a societal effort.
So, What Can You Do to help?
- Take the Pledge to Be #StigmaFree
- Record your Video
- Upload it to your YouTube channel and other social media accounts.
- Include #StigmaFree in the Title
Perhaps you have a story of your own that you would like to share with others who are still severely impacted by a mental illness. What you went through may empower others to seek the help they so desperately need. Let them know that they are not alone, share your voice.
“We know that mental illness is not something that happens to other people. It touches us all. Why then is mental illness met with so much misunderstanding and fear?” – Tipper Gore