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Dual Diagnosis in Alaska
person checking into inpatient drug rehab

Dual Diagnosis in Alaska

Addiction is a complex problem that is often associated with corresponding mental health disorders. The simultaneous diagnosis of an addiction and mental health issue, is known as dual diagnosis. More than one addiction and more than one mental health disorder, may be present. Most rehabs now offer programs for dual diagnosis in Alaska and across the country because they understand how important it is to identify the mental health issues and treat them at the same time as the addiction.

Co-existing Disorders

Another name for dual diagnosis, is co-existing disorders, because mental health and addiction often co-exist and influence each other. While one the problems may cause the other, the disorders often have a shared root cause. For example, a person who has been the victim of abuse as a child, may suffer from post-traumatic stress as an adult. They may try to medicate this mental health disorder by using drugs, and then they become addicted to the substance.

Another example of co-existing disorders, is depression and alcohol. Again, alcohol may be used to self-medicate depression since it is widely available and viewed in our society as a drug used to celebrate, and therefore be happy. Unfortunately, alcohol itself is a chemical depressant, which deepens the depression and sends the person back to alcohol in a vain attempt to find some relief from the depression. If continued, this type of use can lead to addiction, which can cause a variety of difficulties in virtually all aspects of life, which then leads to further depression.

Dual diagnosis patients may suffer from more than one addiction, and in many cases one addiction is to a substance, such as illegal drugs or alcohol, while another is a behavioral addiction, such as gambling or a sex addiction. Eating disorders may also be involved, since they are similar to addictions in many ways and often co-exist with substance abuse.

Treatments for Dual Diagnosis in Alaska

Patients entering addiction treatment in Alaska, first go through a medical detoxification process to remove the drug or alcohol from the system. An assessment is then made of the mental health disorders that may be present. This assessment may include tests for hormone imbalances that may be caused by conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder. Any imbalances found are treated, usually with medications, and medicines are also prescribed for conditions such as anxiety or depression. Anti-psychotic and other psychological or psychiatric conditions, may also need to be treated with medications.

The mental health disorder is treated at the same time as the addiction, since this has been found to be the most effective method of treatment, but every patient is different. The numerous possible combinations of addictions and mental health problems means no one-size-fits-all treatment exists. Many rehabs in Alaska have mental health specialists on staff alongside addiction specialists, and many follow the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services (SAMHSA) kit for integrated treatment of co-occurring disorders, which means that integrated medication and other services are provided under one roof for dual diagnosis addiction patients.

Therapies used for addiction are also useful for treating mental health disorders. Cognitive behavioral therapy, counseling, and group therapy can all help patients understand the root causes of their addiction and their mental health issues. Alternative therapies, such as meditation, restorative yoga, music therapy, and equine therapy, also help equally with treating the addiction and the mental health problems identified in the dual diagnosis. After leaving rehab, dual diagnosis patients are encouraged to follow relapse prevention programs. Most people join support groups such as SMART Recovery or 12-step groups for continuing support.

If you or a loved one is suffering with an addiction and a mental illness, then it is vital to seek help as soon as possible. Contact an addiction specialist today for more information about dual diagnosis in Alaska.