Individuals suffering from drug or alcohol addiction experience other co-occurring issues such as depression or anxiety at a rate two times higher than the general public. Unfortunately, these issues can create a feedback loop between addiction and the other psychological and emotional conditions that often make recovery both harder to achieve and more difficult to maintain. Much is currently being learned about the complex nature of multiple diagnoses occurring at the same time and in the same person simultaneously. Although we are extremely happy to say that modern medical treatment has proven to be largely successful when properly implemented in situations such as these, this is advanced work that requires a fully qualified and licensed mental health professionals.
At Pacific Solstice, we are experts in dual diagnosis. Many treatment facilities are not equipped as we are to work with clients that suffer from both a mental health diagnosis and a substance abuse diagnosis. This phenomenon is known in the industry as having a “dual diagnosis”, which is actually a very broad term. For example, dual diagnosis clients can either have a substance abuse issue that leads to a mental health issue or they can have a mental health issue that leads to substance abuse. It is the old as time question “What came first, the chicken or the egg?” Dual diagnosis can also be nonspecific about what is the mental health issue that is present and also is nonspecific about which substance is being abused. Either way, at Pacific Solstice, since we are mental health professionals, we specialize in the mental health issues as well as the substance abuse issues.
Many who enter our clinic are not aware they even have a dual diagnosis. Many people who suffer from anxiety and depression have never received the mental health care from a true licensed professional to be diagnosed. About a third of all people experiencing mental illness (depression, anxiety, acute stress disorder…) and about half the people with severe mental health illnesses (Bi-Polar, Schizophrenia, PTSD…) also have a substance abuse disorder. About a third of all alcohol abusers and more than half of all drug abusers report experiencing mental illness. Also, interestingly, men are more likely to experience dual diagnosis than women. Some populations have a particularly high risk to having a dual diagnosis, for example, war veterans and people with medical issues.
Although it is difficult to be specific about the symptoms of dual diagnosis because there are so many combinations of varying disorders. However, as mentioned earlier, the defining characteristic of a dual diagnosis is that both a mental health and substance abuse disorder are simultaneously occurring. Symptoms of substance abuse are often withdrawal from friends, family, and co-workers, sudden shifts in behavior, using substances even under dangerous situations, engaging in risky behaviors when drunk or high, loss of control over the substances, feeling like you need the drug to function, and developing tolerance and/or withdrawal symptoms. The symptoms of a mental health condition also vary tremendously. Knowing some of the signs and symptoms can assist in identifying if there is a reason to seek help. Some of these signs are extreme mood changes, confused thinking, social problems (conflict or avoidance), problems sleeping, problems eating, and problems in functioning at home, school or work.
At Pacific Solstice, we follow the most helpful method of treatment for dual diagnosis today which is integrated intervention. Our clients receive care for both their specific mental illness and the substance abuse. We find a personalized treatment plan for every client because there are many ways in which a dual diagnosis may occur. Once a client is stable enough to enter our treatment facility we use a combination of individual psychotherapy, medication (when appropriate), education, group therapy and family therapy (when warranted) to help our clients not only gain sobriety but live in recovery.