It is common for those suffering from addiction to also have other mental disorders. These individuals suffer from a dual diagnosis. In many cases, individuals have been abusing substances to medicate the symptoms of other co-occurring disorders. Disorders frequently seen with our clients include Bipolar Disorders, Depressive Disorders, Anxiety Disorders, and Trauma Related Disorders. We also work with clients that struggle with Personality Disorders and Schizophrenia Spectrum Disorders.
Many of our clients present with elaborate histories of being treated for various types of mental disorders. Numerous types and brands of medications have been used with few long-term benefits. What has made thought and/or mood stabilization so elusive is that many of our clients have been dishonest with their physicians. The dishonesty revolves around their substance abuse. Moreover, the psychiatric symptoms may have been caused or exacerbated by the substance abuse. Therefore, a major effort during participation in the Arbor Behavioral Healthcare system is to differentiate between the effects of substance abuse vs. a legitimate dual diagnosis disorder. An additional challenge is that withdrawal symptoms frequently mimic mental health symptoms such as feeling hopeless, fearful, lethargic, and trouble with sleep. These symptoms can last from a few days to several months. The key to overcoming such challenges is to utilize patience and thoroughness during the identification and treatment of co-occurring disorders.
The First Step
There are many paths to achieve thought and/or mood stabilization. The discontinuation of all substances that carry a high addiction potential is the first step. As explained by the National Institute for Drug Abuse, “Drugs, Brains, and Behavior: The Science of Addiction” *, the continued use of abusable substances negatively alters brain functioning, thus impacting thought and mood. For most clients and families, it is easy to understand and agreed upon the cessation of substances such as Heroin, Crystal Methamphetamines, and Cocaine. However, prescribed medications is often a different story. Many of our clients and families who have been treated with addictive medications (e.g., Xanax, Klonopin, Adderall, Vyvance, Ambien, etc.) struggle with the idea of cessation. As such, much initial effort is required to educate clients and their families as to the challenge of maintaining sobriety when taking medications that continually trigger addiction pathways.
Dual Diagnosis Treatment
We utilize several strategies to treat clients with co-occurring disorders such as pharmacotherapies, mindfulness meditation, nutrition
, exercise, yoga, equine therapy
(Natural Lifemanship), EMDR, Cognitive-Behavioral, and 12-step recovery
. All such strategies and others not offered at the Arbor are extremely valuable in treating co-occurring disorders. However, an even more important consideration in the treatment of such individuals is genuine care and commitment. We truly care about our clients and will leave no stone unturned in finding solutions for achieving thought and emotional stability. As to commitment, most clients require extended sustained focus and treatment in order to achieve stability. Therefore, it is imperative to make a long-term commitment to a client when he/she is accepted into a treatment program. It requires much more than giving a few pills along with some brief counseling to change lives. We make that type of COMMITMENT.
Most of our clients present with much thought and emotional instability. For some, such instability is simply the result of abusing substances and will begin the stabilize after months to years in recovery. Others may be struggling with such instability because of having incredibly poor coping skills in managing day to day stressors. The effort is to teach such individuals how to manage life while maintaining thought and emotional regulation. A third group has a legitimate dual diagnosis. It is critical to fully address the disorder to provide the individual with the greatest opportunity for recovery. There is a final group which represents the majority of our clients. They reflect all three previously mentioned groups – thought/emotions impacted by substance abuse, poor coping skills, and co-occurring mental disorders. The hope is that many of such individuals do recover and live a healthy productive lives. We specialize in this brand of client. We exhibit love towards these individuals and make a long-term commitment to walk with them until they are stable in recovery.
* NIDA (2014). Drugs, Brains, and Behavior: The Science of Addiction. Retrieved November 15, 2016, from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugs-brains-behavior-science-addiction