If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse and a co-occurring mental disorder or mental illness, you may have a dual diagnosis.
In the United States, about a third of all alcohol abusers, and more than half of all drug abusers, report experiencing a mental illness. Either substance abuse or mental illness can develop first.
Some people try to cope with mental illnesses, as well as behavioral disorders, by abusing drugs or alcohol. For others, abusing substances can lead to mental health problems. In either case, research shows that drugs and alcohol only make the symptoms of mental health conditions worse.
People who seek treatment for addiction and mental illness may be diagnosed with:
- A mood disorder, such as major depression or bipolar disorder
- An anxiety disorder, such as generalized anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder or obsessive-compulsive disorder
- A personality disorder, such as borderline personality disorder or antisocial disorder
- An eating disorder, such as bulimia, binge eating disorder or anorexia
A dual diagnosis treatment center will help treat any underlying issues and mental illness that contribute to addiction, which can improve the odds of long-term recovery.
Do You Need Inpatient Dual Diagnosis Treatment?
At an inpatient treatment center, clients live at the rehab facility. In general, most stays range from 30 to 90 days. However, there are long-term treatment options that can last for a year. Depending on the facility’s rules, clients may or may not be allowed to have visitors or leave the facility on a “pass.” At most facilities, clients at an inpatient rehab do not have access to their phones for the first week or so, in order to help them adjust to their new living environment.
There are some major benefits to inpatient dual diagnosis treatment. You or your loved one will have 24/7 support from the facility’s staff, and will participate in intensive therapy with licensed treatment professionals every day. It can take some time for the treatment team to get to know clients while the drugs and alcohol are leaving their systems. Inpatient rehabs provide the best chance for accurate assessment and proper treatment of underlying mental health conditions.
Inpatient rehabs also give clients the opportunity to attend support groups and recovery meetings daily, so they are immersed in a recovery community from the start. Depending on the facility, these may be 12-step or non-12-step groups. Most importantly, inpatient treatment offers a safe, comfortable environment at the beginning of the recovery process. Early on, cravings can be strong and an addict or alcoholic may give in to their relapse triggers if they’re living at home.
What if You Can’t Attend Inpatient Treatment?
Although there are numerous benefits to residential inpatient treatment, many people don’t have the ability or means to leave their family or job. In this case, there are also outpatient treatment options for dual diagnoses. In an outpatient program, clients can live at home and maintain daily life while attending scheduled addiction therapy sessions and groups.
Intensive outpatient programs (IOPs) are conducted in a clinical setting and last 10 to 12 weeks. Clients meet for counseling 4 to 5 days each week, for 3 to 4 hours per session. Traditional outpatient services are also in a clinical setting, but with fewer hours of service.
There are also day treatment options, which use both medical and non-medical staff to provide intensive counseling services during the day but allow patients to return home for the night.
If you know someone who needs help but is resistant to treatment, you might consider staging a professional intervention to show them the seriousness of their problem and how much you care.
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What Happens in Dual Diagnosis Treatment?
Although most dual diagnosis treatment centers follow a specific treatment protocol, the process is similar to that of addiction treatment in general.
Clients first go through intake and assessment, providing treatment personnel with information about their medical, psychiatric, and substance abuse history. Based on the staff’s assessment, an individualized treatment plan will be developed.
In both inpatient and outpatient facilities, clients will receive regular addiction therapy and counseling sessions. At a dual diagnosis facility, these sessions will also address any underlying issues, mental illnesses, or behavioral disorders that may contribute to addiction.
With the help of therapists and doctors, you or your loved one will receive care specific to your dual diagnosis. Treatment will offer new insights and healthier coping mechanisms, in order to better manage symptoms of mental illness rather than self-medicating. There will also be discussions about medication options that can help ease those symptoms.
Where Should You Go?
Finding a dual diagnosis treatment center near your home can lessen travel costs and allows you to find sober living arrangements in your area after treatment.
However, it’s typically beneficial to find a treatment center that’s at least a few hours away from home. This provides you or your loved one healthy distance from potential relapse triggers. Some people also prefer to have the freedom of a brand new place with new people they’ve never met before.
Ultimately, if you have specific needs that a dual diagnosis treatment center must meet, the best option is to travel some distance for the program that you believe offers the best resources.
How Much Does Dual Diagnosis Treatment Cost?
In general, addiction treatment services can be very expensive, and some dual diagnosis facilities have steeper costs. When you find a dual diagnosis facility that meets the needs of you or your loved one, be sure to call and speak with the administrative personnel to discuss the exact costs.
Many health insurance companies will help with the cost of addiction treatment services. But, every policy is different in every facility accepts different insurance policies. Before setting up any concrete plans, it’s important to check your insurance benefits.
Some facilities offer financial packages, which you may qualify for based on need. You also have the option to pay out of pocket. But, some insurance benefits will cover 100% of your costs, while others may cover therapy sessions and medications prescribed for your diagnosis.
You can click below to verify your benefits with our free verification form.
After Dual Diagnosis Treatment
After completing dual diagnosis treatment, the recovery journey is far from over—it lasts a lifetime.
If you’ve completed an inpatient stay, attending an outpatient program offers you the best chances for long-term recovery. During outpatient treatment, it’s helpful to live in a sober living home or sober living facility. These facilities are essentially homes or apartments that are run by people with significant time in sobriety.
They rent rooms to people who are early in recovery, in order to provide a structured living environment and ease the transition into an independent, sober life. Residents are held accountable with a curfew, drug screenings, and weekly meetings, while also staying connected to a community of recovery support.
After an outpatient program, many treatment facilities offer case monitoring programs. A case manager is on-call during difficult times, and will meet with clients as-needed to provide support through the recovery process. With the help of a case manager, you or your loved one has a better chance of staying clean and sober in the first year.