In the past, many professionals and addicts themselves did not think it was possible to receive treatment for an underlying mental illness and drug addiction at the same time. Some professionals believed that the mental illness was caused by the drug addiction or that the drug addiction was simply a means to cope with the mental illness and it was not possible to be diagnosed with having both at the same time. Many addicts believed that it would be impossible to receive treatment for drug addiction or for them to safely withdraw from drug use because of their mental health issues. All of these assumptions are now known to be false. After more research into the nature of addiction it is now known that while some may attempt to self-medicate themselves with drug use, mental illness and drug addiction are two separate disorders and while each can affect the causes of the other and the treatment of the other, it is possible and is even preferable to receive treatment for both at the same time. Despite this discovery, there are certain factors that can affect dual diagnosis recovery and therapy.

Addicts who receive dual diagnosis therapy often require longer periods to complete treatment and begin their recovery form addiction. Without receiving treatment for both conditions at the same time, it is often impossible for an addict with mental illness to begin to abstain from drug use and begin to heal their body, mind and spirit from the effects of the drug use. While only 15% of the general populace is thought to abuse drugs, up to 50% or more of individuals with mental illness abuse drugs. There are many mental illnesses that are prone to complicate the treatment of drug addiction. Some of these co-occurring mental illnesses are PTSD, Schizophrenia, Bi-Polar Behavior or Mood Disorder, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders, Anxiety Disorders, Eating Disorders and many more.

Dual diagnosis recovery is viewed as a long term process that is begun in stages and that works outside of the normal bounds of traditional addiction treatment services. Dual Diagnosis is more likely to include aggressive outreach programs which can include traveling to the addict’s home rather than the addict traveling to the center to receive some of the therapy that is offered. Dual Diagnosis treatment will often include other types of assistance such as job training and placement services, housing and relocation assistance, more integrated family counseling services and classes that teach relationship skill building and money management skills in addition to the coping skills that are taught in most drug treatment programs. Personalized treatment is a main focus of Dual Diagnosis programs, and while they tend to cost more in time and effort on the part of the treatment specialists and addicts as well, they also are very valuable. Research shows that the mentally ill who are also addicts face even greater threats to their life, health, and welfare than other individuals who use drugs, so anything that can be done to break this cycle can help to greatly improve the expected outcomes for the mentally ill who are also addicted to substances.

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