Pathways Wellness

What Is the Best Treatment for Dual Diagnosis?

What Is the Best Treatment for Dual Diagnosis?
Raul Haro
November 6, 2023
There are many people in the US today with what is known as a dual diagnosis. According to a 2018 study by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), 7.7 million adults have had a dual diagnosis. It's important to understand what this disorder is, and why it's so complicated. This complication can make people […]
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What Is the Best Treatment for Dual Diagnosis?

There are many people in the US today with what is known as a dual diagnosis. According to a 2018 study by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), 7.7 million adults have had a dual diagnosis. It's important to understand what this disorder is, and why it's so complicated. This complication can make people afraid to seek treatment, worried that it's too much to recover from. Despite the complexity, a dual diagnosis can be treated and people can recover from one. It takes specialized treatment, time, and the personal desire to heal.

That is why it's important to seek treatment at a specialized addiction treatment facility when someone has a dual diagnosis. These places are the most equipped to treat someone with a dual diagnosis and help them stay in recovery. One such treatment center is Pathways Wellness Center, which offers exceptional outpatient rehab treatment in Glendora, California. Our team is dedicated to helping anyone who walks through our doors, as anyone can recover from a dual diagnosis. With specialized treatments and a personalized treatment plan, success isn't too far away. 

Pathways Wellness Center doesn't just treat addiction and its co-occurring mental health disorders. It also spreads awareness about addiction to combat public stigma. The more people understand what an addiction or dual diagnosis is, the more they are likely to seek treatment. We make it clear that people can expect judgment-free treatment, especially since many staff members are also in recovery. It's a unique place where people can receive the help they need and learn how to live a healthy, sober life.

Before people can understand just how a dual diagnosis is treated, they must understand what a dual diagnosis is. The better the understanding, the more members of the public can recognize it. Education is incredibly important, and it can spread hope to those who need it the most. 

What Is a Dual Diagnosis?

A dual diagnosis is when someone has an addiction as well as at least one other mental health disorder. This is also known as a co-occurring mental health disorder or comorbidity. An addiction can also be called substance use disorder (SUD) or be specific to a particular substance, such as alcohol use disorder (AUD). Some of the most common mental health disorders seen alongside an addiction are depression, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, personality disorders, and anxiety disorders

Nobody is quite sure what comes first. Sometimes a person's addiction can trigger symptoms of another mental health disorder. Other times, an addiction can form as a result of someone attempting to self-medicate or cope with an existing mental health disorder. Which came first can only be determined by a mental health care professional. Both disorders will exasperate the symptoms of the other, causing someone to be trapped in a vicious cycle. The worse a person feels, the more they are going to want to self-medicate to feel better. It can ramp up the severity of the addiction, which in turn worsens the individual's mental health.

The nature of a dual diagnosis can make treating one a little tricky. A person cannot recover from a dual diagnosis unless both disorders are treated concurrently. If only one is treated, the other disorder will intensify and undo all the hard work a person puts into their treatment. It's safer, faster, and more successful to treat a dual diagnosis as a whole and address both issues at once. However, this comes with its challenges. It's especially true when a mental health care professional has to untangle the mental health disorder from the addiction and vice versa. 

However, it is possible to treat a dual diagnosis with specialized treatment and care. Because addiction and mental health disorders present differently in each person, this care has to be highly individualized. No two dual diagnosis treatments will look alike, which can take time to finalize. It takes the client and their treatment team to work closely together to determine the best treatment plan. Again, it takes time, but a dual diagnosis is certainly treatable.

What Is the Best Way to Treat a Dual Diagnosis?

All dual-diagnosis treatments start with an assessment. This is when a client works with a mental health care professional to determine which mental health and substance use disorders are present. Getting both properly diagnosed will help determine which treatments will be most effective. For example, treating depression is different than treating schizophrenia. Once there is a diagnosis, a care team is formed to find the treatments that may be the most effective. Of course, this is a team effort. A client will be encouraged to try a treatment, not forced. 

Once the assessment is over, it is time to take an integrated care approach. Several kinds of therapies and treatments exist for a variety of disorders. Some treatment facilities, like Pathways Wellness Center, may offer unique therapies such as adventure therapy. In general, there is a mix of evidence-based therapies, with more constantly being researched and studied as time goes on. Perhaps the most well-known type of therapy used in treatment is psychotherapy, or "talk" therapy. People may also be surprised to find other therapies available to them, such as yoga and art therapy, all of which are evidence-based therapies.

Sometimes a dual diagnosis may require the use of medication to treat and manage the symptoms. Perhaps the most commonly known form of medication used is anti-depressants to treat depression and other mood disorders. Other times, a person may need the help of medication-assisted treatment (MAT) as a temporary measure to reduce the withdrawal symptoms while recovering from an addiction. Some addictive substances are dangerous to recover from, and the people being treated may need medication to safely detox. Medication management is important when needed, but it's not always necessary for a dual diagnosis. 

Throughout treatment, a client is continually monitored on their progress by their case manager. Sometimes a client will need their treatments adjusted as time goes by. This is normal and is an expected part of dual diagnosis treatment. Clients are also able to communicate with their treatment providers at any time. This trust and open communication is very important to the treatment process and can foster success.

How Pathways Wellness Center Approaches a Dual Diagnosis

Clients who come to Pathways Wellness Center may notice that it's different from other treatment facilities. This is because we put an emphasis on the power of nature and how a serene environment can promote healing. Glendora itself is a beautiful area, surrounded by the wilderness of California. It's where several treatments take place and offers a quiet place for clients to de-stress after a day of treatment.

Pathway Wellness Center is an outpatient rehab facility. This means that people go into treatment during the day and then go home at night. There are two treatment programs offered at Pathways Wellness Center. These are the partial hospitalization program (PHP) and the intensive outpatient program (IOP). Both programs are used to treat a dual diagnosis, though some programs may fit an individual better than others.

A PHP is best for those who have finished a residential treatment program at another facility or are still struggling with mild to moderate addiction and co-occurring mental health disorders. Those most suited to this program may continue to deal with withdrawal symptoms or cravings and sometimes are at risk for a relapse. Typically a person in a PHP will spend four to five hours a day in treatment for four to five days a week. Therapies vary, but many people in a PHP make use of psychotherapy and relapse prevention training. Sometimes, a client may need medication management or MAT to help manage their cravings and withdrawal symptoms.

An IOP is best for those who have a mild addiction and co-occurring mental health disorder. Those in an IOP tend to be there because they no longer need a PHP and are ready to return to work, school, and other social obligations. However, some people will choose an IOP because of its flexibility in both time commitment and price. Clients typically meet two to three times a week for two to three hours at a time. The therapies used in an IOP are similar to ones in a PHP, but more emphasis is placed on transitioning into sober living and distress tolerance training. 

How Pathways Wellness Center Stands Out From Other Treatment Facilities

What makes Pathway Wellness Center able to treat a dual diagnosis so effectively is a combination of staff, treatments, and community. Pathways Wellness Center has many staff members who are in recovery themselves, so they know exactly what a client is going through. This can bring comfort to a client, as they can see that there is hope, and recovery is possible. Not only that, but staff members are highly trained and specialize in diagnosing and treating a dual diagnosis.

Pathways Wellness Center is also committed to the individual. A client is not just a number or a name on a paper. They are a person and thus need a personalized treatment plan. Clients work closely with specialized mental health care professionals to make sure the client gets the treatment they need. As the client goes through their recovery journey, their treatments will be assessed and adjusted as needed. There is no such thing as a “one-size-fits-all” treatment. Clients at Pathways Wellness Center can expect to have their needs met while taking an active role in their treatment.

When it comes to dual diagnosis treatment, there is an emphasis placed on the holistic approach. This means that a person's whole being is treated. It's not just their minds, it's also their bodies and spirit. To recover from a dual diagnosis, a client must reach a point in their lives where they feel well everywhere. Clients can find physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional wellness throughout all treatments at Pathways Wellness Center. When a client leaves treatment, they aren't just recovered from a dual diagnosis. They have also become healthier people.

Family and community are all important aspects of treatment at Pathways Wellness Center. One vital treatment utilized is family therapy. This is where clients and their loved ones can meet and discuss their troubles together under the guidance of a mental health care professional. It helps nurture understanding and helps families come closer together. Peer network programs are also important, as they can offer the support that is needed to achieve recovery. There is a thriving community made up of peers and alumni featured around Glendora, California, waiting to welcome more members into the fold. Nobody has to undergo a dual diagnosis alone, especially at Pathways Wellness Center.

The Common Signs of a Dual Diagnosis

There are several signs and symptoms one can watch out for that can indicate the presence of a dual diagnosis. Since a dual diagnosis consists of both substance use and mental health disorders, it's important to be aware of the common symptoms of both.

Common signs of addiction are:

  • Someone withdrawing from their friends and family
  • Sudden changes in behavior, including an increase in risky behavior 
  • Someone feeling like they need a substance to function or feel "normal"
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when unable to engage in substance use
  • Developing a tolerance for a substance, requiring someone to increasingly have to use more to get the same effect
  • Physical signs of substance use, such as track marks from needles, bloodshot eyes, and sudden loss or gain in weight

Common signs of a mental health disorder may include:

  • Difficulty concentrating and remaining focused
  • Confusion and extreme mood changes
  • Avoiding social activities and hobbies they love
  • Being unable to function at work or school
  • Persistent feelings of doom and fear
  • Difficulties sleeping
  • Thoughts of self-harm and suicide

If someone is experiencing any of these symptoms, it's time to seek professional help. Allowing an addiction and its co-occurring mental health disorder to fester can have permanent consequences on the mind and body. The faster someone gets into treatment, the easier it is to recover from a dual diagnosis. 

Getting Treatment at Pathways Wellness Center

Again, it is important for those with a dual diagnosis to receive comprehensive treatment. Only by treating both sides of the disorder can someone fully recover. Luckily, people don't have to try and recover from a dual diagnosis alone. They can get help from qualified professionals who are specifically trained to treat a dual diagnosis. 

Seeking treatment for a dual diagnosis at Pathways Wellness Center can be a little intimidating, especially if someone has never received mental health treatment before. There is no need to fear, as the admission process is made as calm and easy as possible. First, the client gets a consultation where they can speak with the mental health care professionals on staff. They can ask questions and tour the grounds to get a general understanding of what treatment is like. Client rights are gone over at this time to further comfort and empower the client. Once the potential client is satisfied with what they see, they can enroll in treatment. 

Pathways Wellness Center is committed to not just providing high-quality treatment, but we are also dedicated to helping clients become healthy and happy people. Pathways Wellness Center is always looking for the newest breakthroughs in addiction and mental health treatment. As the general understanding of mental health care grows, so too does Pathways Wellness Center utilize it for the betterment of people everywhere. If someone is struggling with their dual diagnosis, they can find compassionate and comprehensive treatment in Glendora, California, and beyond. 

For those who are struggling, don't wait to seek treatment. The understanding and caring staff at Pathways Wellness are willing to help. All it takes is someone recognizing that they need help and reaching out for it. It's also fine for someone to have an advocate by their side to help them make that phone call or send that email. Reaching out for help doesn't make anyone weak. It's a mark of strength to understand when it's time to let someone help them with their burdens. 

When someone is struggling with both a mental health disorder and an addiction, it's known as a dual diagnosis. Treating a dual diagnosis can be tricky, as both issues must be addressed and treated at the same time. However, there is hope, especially when getting treatment at a specialized addiction treatment facility. Here at Pathways Wellness Center in Glendora, California, we specialize in not only treating addiction but also its co-occurring mental health disorders. A dual diagnosis is treatable, and anyone is capable of achieving recovery if they are willing to put in the hard work and stick with treatment. If you or a loved one is struggling with their dual diagnosis, don't wait. Call us today at(888) 771-0966.

About the Author

Raul Haro
Raul Haro is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with sixteen years of experience working in both the inpatient and outpatient setting. As an LMFT, He has trained in trauma focused cognitive behavioral therapy and EMDR. Raul has furthered his training in the drug and alcohol field by obtaining a Masters in Drug and Alcohol Counseling through CCAPP. Raul has a background in nursing where he has been an LVN for over 25 years. Recently, he has returned to school to complete a degree in Registered Nursing. Future plans are for Raul are to eventually complete a degree as a Nurse Practitioner combining his therapy practice with his nursing skills.

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