Dual Diagnosis: Treating Mental Health and Addiction
Addiction is a severe illness that interacts with the chemicals in the brain that help you to function correctly, regulate your emotions, feel and react. The effect varies according to the substance you’ve been taking but messing around with these neurotransmitters can have a devastating impact on your mental health.
What is dual diagnosis? In many cases, people use substances to cover up painful feelings or escape from reality when they’re struggling to cope. While you may feel temporary relief from mental health issues, you’re ultimately making it even harder for your brain to regulate itself properly. You might not have had mental health problems before you used the substances but developed them as a result. Drug use often causes a massive influx of chemicals such as dopamine and serotonin, depleting your natural supplies and leaving you with symptoms of depression and/or anxiety.
POST-TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER AND ADDICTIVE BEHAVIOUR
PTSD is characterized by anxiety and stress brought on by witnessing traumatic events or being exposed to situations your brain felt unable to cope with. All physical or psychological trauma that renders you feeling out of control or powerless has the potential to bring on PTSD. Victims of violent assault, natural disasters, sexual assault, childhood abuse and military combat are particularly at risk. It’s not uncommon for people suffering from this illness to turn to alcohol or drugs in an attempt to numb their pain.
TURNING TO DRUGS AND ALCOHOL BECAUSE OF TRAUMA
Trauma is a broad term that encompasses any event or set of events that have led a person to respond in unhealthy ways or struggle to regulate their emotions. The majority of people who fall into the trap of addiction have experienced trauma in one form or another, even if they don’t realize it. Things that happened to you may seem insignificant compared to what other people go through, but they could have damaged your psyche more than you realize.
ANXIETY AND SUBSTANCE USE DISORDERS
A lot of people who turn to drug or alcohol abuse suffer from an anxiety disorder. Anxiety is a natural response to a situation that our mind and body have deemed to be of significance, possibly with an unpredictable outcome.
When someone feels this emotion in a disordered way, they tend to feel intense fear and apprehension around events that this type of response isn’t appropriate for. These mental illnesses stop you from focusing, prevent you from feeling able to perform daily duties, inhibit socializing and cause psychiatric disorders. Alcohol and drug abuse can temporarily seem to ease the fear, calm racing thoughts and induce relaxation or sleep.
DEPRESSION AND ADDICTION
Depression and anxiety are both highly complex and historically misunderstood illnesses. People who are depressed are more inclined to turn to substance abuse and, in turn, substance abuse makes depression worse and brings it on in some individuals. Depression can lead people to become incredibly isolated and drug or alcohol use can be comforting as well as temporarily alleviating feelings of sadness and hopelessness.
COMPLEMENTARY THERAPIES FOR INCREASED WELLNESS
Group therapy, individual therapy, psychoeducation, family member support groups, and Step work are the cornerstones of addiction treatment. Receiving a dual diagnosis can be overwhelming but there are a range of treatments you’ll take part in during a stay at Recovery Works. Complementary therapies focus on calming you down and enhancing your overall sense of well-being. These types of therapy prevent the days from being too intense and put you in a more comfortable state of mind.
If you have a mental health condition, these therapies are incredibly beneficial. Taking part in yoga classes and meditation physically calms your nerves, reduces your heart rate, and prevents racing thoughts. The Satori chair wellness system uses vibrations and acoustics to physically and mentally relax you. We also employ a device called the Alpha-Stim® that uses low level electrical currents that can help with depression, anxiety and insomnia.
LOW-COST DUAL DIAGNOSIS PROGRAM IN VICTORIA BC, CANADA
If you’ve been struggling with co-occurring disorders Recovery Works can help. Trauma therapy is a priority for our primary care providers, and with a group of no more than 10 residents at one time, our community living environment guarantees you get the attention and proper case management you need.
Call us today at 778-430-1212 to find out more about our addiction services.
Website content is written by Lowell Monkhouse, MA, ADC – Addiction Counsellor and Trauma Therapist