dual diagnosis

Understanding Rehab Lingo. What Is Dual Diagnosis?

Going to rehab is a great step in getting healthy and sober. It can also be overwhelming and scary because you are stepping into the unknown. When you first arrive, you will be hearing a lot of rehab “lingo” that will sound completely foreign to you. One common one that you’ll hear right off the bat is “dual diagnosis”. We’re here to demystify what it means, and how it will affect your treatment.

Dual Diagnosis Defined

People go to rehab because they are suffering from drug or alcohol addiction. Many of those clients are diagnosed with another underlying disorder. These include depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder. If you are one of those people – who make up the majority of patients – you will get a dual diagnosis. You will be treated for both conditions simultaneously.

Rehab isn’t all about getting sober for 40 or so days and going on your way. It is about finding out what other conditions and events may have affected you and addressing them. It’s important to identify what is going on in your life that is leading you to use drugs or alcohol. This is the only way a permanent and sustainable change can be made.

How will a Dual Diagnosis Affect My Treatment?

When you first enter treatment, you will undergo intensive screening for conditions like anxiety and depression. You will also get an extensive drug test, and be asked to talk about your past. You’ll also discuss any major situations going on in your life. This is to establish a baseline of where your treatment will begin.

When you are diagnosed with a dual diagnosis, your doctors will treat your addiction and the diagnosis separately. For instance, if you have anxiety and addiction, you will be given one set of medication appropriate for your anxiety. Another set of medication will be given to help you manage your withdrawal symptoms and cravings.

As far as therapy, you will attend sessions that deal with anxiety, and also sessions that deal with drug abuse. As you progress and get over the hump of detox, doctors will continue to monitor your symptoms. They will adjust your medication and treatment track accordingly.Be sure to focus on your mood disorder to prevent it from getting in the way of your sobriety after treatment.

Why is Treating My Mood Disorder So Important?

Having a mood disorder like anxiety, depression, or bipolar disorder has a monumentally big impact on your life. Emotionally and physically, symptoms are so severe in some cases that they can affect your day-to-day life. Going to school, work or even the store can become impossible. Some common symptoms of all three conditions include:

  •   Agitation
  •   Irritability
  •   The inability to concentrate
  •   Extreme highs and lows
  •   Shakiness, dizziness, and lightheadedness
  •   Irrational fears and phobias
  •   Palpitations and fast heart beat
  •   Social anxiety and fear of going out in public
  •   Extended periods of unexplained sadness
  •   Withdrawal from activities and people you used to enjoy

If you have experienced any of these symptoms to a drastic degree, you know how debilitating they can be. It happens all the time that people who suffer from anxiety, depression, or bipolar disorder reach for drugs and alcohol. It is an effort to make their symptoms go away. While it may work temporarily, in the long run, it makes things much worse.

By diagnosis and treating your mood disorder in rehab, we begin treatment promptly. The goal is to manage symptoms with medication and therapy as needed. Once treatment is over you aren’t struggling to feel “normal” without a drink or a drug. Depression and anxiety are very real disorders with real symptoms that unfortunately make many people turn to substance abuse. This is called self-medicating, and it is very dangerous.

About Self-Medicating and How You Can Avoid It

Self-medicating is using recreational drugs, abusing prescription pills, or drinking alcohol to alleviate symptoms of a mood disorder. For example, a person with severe social anxiety will drink alcohol to feel better about themselves before a social event. It starts as a harmless pre-gaming session. Eventually, that same person will find themselves dependent on a drink to function normally. It is a downhill slope that progresses fast.

For someone suffering from depression, they may turn to crack or cocaine to kick-start their energy level. They will feel better in the short term. However, once they start coming down they will feel their depression a million times worse. Same with alcohol – when you sober up, your anxiety goes through the roof. Thus begins a cycle of “needing” the substance to feel normal. Using more of it as time progresses and tolerance builds up. It keeps going until the person crashes and burns.

Clues You Are Self Medicating

  •   You need a higher dose to feel the same effect
  •   Drinking or doing drugs first thing in the morning
  •   Being high or drunk at work or at school
  •   You’re fixated on your next dose
  •   You don’t feel normal without being high or drunk

The goal of dual diagnosis in rehab is to avoid falling into this pitfall. If you think you are self-medicating, it is important to own up to it and ask for help. Mood disorders are increasingly common and the treatment for them is vast. Symptoms of mood disorders are not just annoying but are also scary. Going to a doctor and getting a firm diagnosis is a good first step. A combination of medicine, therapy, and a healthy lifestyle will help to get you back on track. It is a much better option than facing an addiction.

A dual diagnosis will help take the weight off your shoulders because it will identify your mood disorder. You may be under the impression that your symptoms are imaginary, but in truth, they are not. Some medication and lifestyle tweaks can make them go away. Eliminating drugs and alcohol from your life is key to successfully treating any mood disorder.

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