You don’t have to be in recovery long to hear it mentioned that abusing drugs or alcohol is but a symptom. As an addict or alcoholic, an early step towards successful recovery is uncovering these symptoms. Frequently, they are so deeply rooted in your mind; you may not even realize they exist.
Your mind subconsciously longs for relief and substances will provide that relief. While addictive behavior begins as a craving to feel some elusive effect, there is invariably something that compels you to seek this elusive euphoria. A mind free of drugs and alcohol can struggle with the difficulties of life.
Throw in an addiction to alcohol or drugs, and the whole thinking process becomes muddled. One way to uncover the symptoms that compel most addicts and alcoholics to use, there is the concept of dual diagnosis. Here is a brief explanation of what dual diagnosis treatment is, and why it is an important part of addiction treatment.
What is Dual Diagnosis?
Patients in long-term recovery treatment programs are usually afforded the benefits for dual diagnosis. What happens in the recovery community is that various types of mental illness are all too frequently ignored.
Mental health professionals refer to these troubling illnesses as co-occurring disorders, or dual disorders. The fundamental idea of a dual analysis is to uncover psychological issues that patients suffer from, usually in addition to a substance abuse problem.
When both are treated, many times the source of the addictive behavior is found. Here are some types of mental illness that this treatment concept can be helpful in discovering and treating.
Long-term recovery depends on addressing the underlying symptoms that can drive substance abuse. Uncovering the source of these problematic psychological issues can be accomplished through dual diagnosis treatment.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Post-traumatic stress disorder, (PTSD), has been diagnosed as a debilitating mental illness mostly over the last quarter century. PTSD is a psychological reaction to a traumatic event in your life. It can cause nightmares, flashbacks and be an underlying factor behind substance abuse problems.
Finding and treating the cause of PTSD can be critical in successful recovery from drug or alcohol abuse. PTSD is one of the most common triggers of addictive drug behavior and alcoholism. Because it is so misunderstood, it is missed during treatment assessments.
However, when dual disorder types of diagnosis are added to your treatment plan, these types of trauma are uncovered. Once they are brought to the surface, compassionate counselors can help to gradually reduce their stranglehold on your emotions.
Having PTSD is not an abnormal reaction to a horrific event in your life. In fact, it is often the psychological way you deal with such trauma. When these feelings spiral out of control, you often look for ways to cope. One readily available coping mechanism is unfortunately drugs or alcohol.
Often related to PTSD are issues with anxiety.
When someone is diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, it means more than just a sense of apprehension or anxiousness over particular events or situations.
It is a potentially debilitating problem that in essence freezes the person in a state of fear. Patients tell of stories where drugs and alcohol have been abused to overcome a dreadful sense of anxiety dealing with life’s normal situations.
Strong anxiety can actually be the result of other dual disorders, illnesses that actually cause these anxious fears to fester. Pinpointing and dealing with anxiety disorders can be critical in successful recovery from drug or alcohol abuse.
Another ailment that is often associated with the two previous disorders is depression.
This really isn’t the same as feeling bad because a situation or situations are sad. This is an unexplained sense of total demoralization and uncontrollable sadness.
It can become extraordinarily intense. It referred to by the mental health community as major depressive disorder(MDD). MDD can be so strong, like anxiety and PTSD, it can cripple you psychologically. Sometimes it is normal to feel depressed about things that happen.
However, and all too often, drugs and alcohol turn into a source of self-medication for this state of overwhelming sadness. Like many other symptoms associated with drug and alcohol abuse, the symptom is actually the first problem that needs to be uncovered and addressed with compassionate counseling.
Another one of the co-occurring disorders that frequently surfaces during addiction treatment is obsessive-compulsive disorder, (OCD). It is another of the dual disorders that can create total confusion in an addict’s mind.
It can become so bad it triggers many of the previously mentioned illnesses. This confused state happens out of an uncontrollable urge to put everything in life in some kind of unachievable sense of order.
While it is correctly labeled as a disorder, especially when it becomes compulsive, it will do nothing to create order in your life. In fact, when it reaches the point of obsessive, it can cause the complete opposite.
Again, addicts and alcoholics frequently attempt to manipulate life into a perfect order. You try, usually unsuccessfully, to force otherwise chaotic behavior into an orderly line. When these attempts fail, it can cause your addictive behavior to explode.
Many in recovery from various addictions find they suffer from OCDs. For this reason, even something that seemingly tries to restore order and sanity is a dual disorder that can be a symptom of drug addiction and alcoholism.
Why Treatment Centers Can Help
Inside the structure of treatment programs, drug addicts and alcoholics can begin to uncover many of the dual disorders that cause them so much difficulty. In-patient treatment can be a place to feel safe from the triggers of abuse.
It can also be somewhere you can meet and associate with people who have similar problems. Often the best medicine to cure all types of mental disorders is discovering you are not alone.
Many people who suffer from an assortment of disorders, struggle with an isolated feeling of uniqueness. Not only will you be able to work together with other people who struggle with addiction, you will have a staff of caring counselors to guide you in your recovery.
The journey will be yours, but you do not have to travel the road of recovery by yourself. Treatment centers will help you establish a foundation that will lay the groundwork for your journey. Treatment programs will work, if you work at them.
Again, they are not a magic cure that will remove an unexplained mental obsession to abuse drugs or alcohol. However, they will help unearth dual disorders and other hidden symptoms, problems which may be a source of this abusive, self-destructive behavior.
Drug abuse and alcoholism are diseases, which on their own can destroy your life. When you combine dual disorders with these inherently abusive behaviors, you produce a life that may appear hopeless and without direction. Pinpointing these dual disorders first can be imperative to sustained recovery.
Long-term recovery from these ailments requires changes toward a new way of life. Treatment centers are not a quick-fix or cure-all panacea drug abuse or alcoholism. However, it is a first step in the right direction towards sustainable recovery.
If you feel you suffer from drug abuse or alcoholism, you owe it to yourself to seek help. The consequences of untreated addictive behavior may be jails, institutions or even death. Get help today, not tomorrow, not next week, but today.