It is said that some people die at 25 and are not buried until 50 years later. The spirit of this quote is that you can get a job at 25 and work yourself to death, very slowly, over half a century. Why is this? Well, simply put, it is easy for people to ignore damage that might seem obvious.
This is generally how addiction starts. Someone uses a substance, then begins using it recreationally, and then discovers that it is the only thing that makes them happy. After that, it is not long until they are totally dependent on it. However, something else is going on there.
Addiction is rarely ever just addiction. It is usually part of a “dual diagnosis”. This is a term that is critical to understanding how some of the most dire addictions can be treated.
What Is A Dual Diagnosis?
Something that psychologists noticed as early as the 19th century was that addiction led to mental health issues, and that mental health issues led to addiction. It was not one-for-one—obviously, assuming that everyone with a mental illness is an addict is quite wrong.
But it was clear that the pain caused by mental illness could easily cause a person to self-medicate using some kind of substance abuse. And once they started doing that, it would be far harder than usual for that person to quit that substance, as only pain is on the other side of it.
Dual diagnosis is the simultaneous diagnosis of a drug addiction and a mental health condition.
Why Are Dual Diagnoses So Important?
Imagine that you suffer from crippling depression. It is a constant, low-level pain, that sometimes escalates on bad days to such extremes that you have trouble getting out of bed.
You numb the pain with alcohol. You get addicted, go through recovery, and seem to be on a good path… But your doctors never addressed your depression. You quit alcohol, but you still have the pain that drove you to drink in the first place.
A dual diagnosis is important because it acknowledges that your addiction and your mental health are different struggles that need to be addressed with different solutions, but at the same time related. You can’t get rid of one without getting rid of both of them.
How Are Dual Diagnoses Treated?
Fortunately, there is a lot of overlap between treatment for mental health conditions and treatment for addiction. The main reason for this is related to the fact that addiction, by every clinical standard, is a mental health condition.
Epiphany Wellness notes that there are three main ways that a dual diagnosis of both a mental health condition and an addiction are treated.
The medication for something like alcoholism is going to be different than the medication for something like depression. But the two are more similar than you might think.
While medication for addiction recovery usually focuses on dealing with the aches and pains of withdrawal, those physical symptoms are oftentimes an offshoot of basic hormonal issues. Not enough sleep is happening, and as a result, the body is breaking down from stress.
Depression deals with very similar hormonal issues. It is the long way around towards getting certain parts of the brain to develop to be strong enough to deal with depression.
Therapy is at the same time obviously beneficial and chronically avoided by most people. The uses for a mental health diagnosis are obvious: If a person has anxiety that leaves them feeling worthless or distrustful of their friends, then therapy can help them through that.
But people are less ware of therapy’s benefits for addiction. Part of the reason addiction can cause mental health issues as often as it can be caused by them is because of the guilt.
From an early age, people are told to avoid drugs, alcohol, and the addictions they threaten. But at the same time, so much of society indulges in them. Some drugs are even prescribed to you by doctors. Are you supposed to go against their advice? Naturally, people start to use these substances. When they get addicted, the culture of “just saying no” becomes alienating.
Therapy helps addicts as much as people with mental illnesses because there is emotional baggage to failing to control oneself.
Through Lifestyle Changes
Anything with the word “lifestyle” on it sounds like it is being marketed to you. But when you strip the word down to its literal meaning, you can imagine how it can impact both mental health and addiction equally. If you live the life of a drug addict, you are more likely to be a drug addict.
And if you live the life of a person who doesn’t care about themselves, fears everything, or can’t control their moods, then that is the mold you are making for yourself to fit in.
A dual diagnosis will find the adjustments you need to make to your life during your recovery. These can include changes in diet, exercise routines, and knowing what toxic personalities to cut out of your life.
When Do You Get A Dual Diagnosis?
While most places make it standard operating procedure to look for mental health issues on top of an addiction, some places will deliberately avoid it unless you ask them to look for it.
The reason for this is that they do not want to overstep any bounds and prescribe you anything you don’t want. That means you should always ask if a recovery center deals in dual diagnosis recovery treatment. You might be surprised at how many do, and what they offer.
Too many people assume that their mental state and their addiction are unrelated. They might even think that they must solve one to solve the other. Both these ideas will leave them fighting an uphill battle. It takes more work to deal with a dual diagnosis, but if you have to, you have to.
If you are interested in even more lifestyle-related articles and information from us here at Bit Rebels, then we have a lot to choose from.