It used to be that mental health and addiction issues were treated separately. Dual Diagnosis treatment—which treats both conditions simultaneously—is a relatively new field of endeavor, but already has won the support and affirmations of many clinicians, scientists, and therapists.
It’s not difficult to see why. Though addiction and other disorders often occur at the same time, the line between them can be hard to see; they blur into one another and feed off of one another, so any attempt to treat them separately is bound to be frustrating.
Dual diagnosis treatment regards them as existing not as two isolated things, but as related conditions that exist on a continuum together. As such, dual diagnosis treatment attempts to address both issues at the same time. What this means is that effective dual diagnosis treatment can sometimes be a longer commitment of time, as the diagnostic challenges are numerous. Yet this approach pays off in the long run because it ensures that clinical attention is paid to the underlying issues.
For example: Substance use is sometimes seen as an entity unto itself, when in reality it is symptomatic of a deeper issue—an issue that might be depression, anxiety, a mood disorder, schizophrenia, or something else. Trying to “fix” the substance use disorder might garner results in the short term, but the root cause will remain—and so, the likelihood of a relapse or of further substance use problems is fairly high.
Dual diagnosis treatment is holistic. It provides the individual with the strategies and structures needed to deal with the full spectrum of symptoms and their causes, and to move toward a sustained life of hope, healing, health, and recovery.
It is a commitment, but one that is ultimately well worth making.
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