Psychiatric illness and alcohol abuse often accompany one another. When a patient abuses alcohol on a regular basis in order to mask symptoms or deal with the anguish of mental illness, dual-diagnosis alcohol rehab that provides proper treatment for both alcoholism and the patient’s underlying illness becomes necessary.
Dual Diagnosis & Alcohol Abuse
A patient may realize that he or she is suffering from one or more symptoms of mental illnesses such as depression, bipolar syndrome, anxiety disorder, or schizophrenia. However, such a patient may feel ashamed to seek medical help, so he or she tries to self-medicate the symptoms by consuming large amounts of alcohol. Alternately, someone who suffers from mental illness may not even realize that he or she is ill, but rather believes that only a bit of relaxation is necessary to relieve a bout of sadness, or mood swings, or anxiety, or even the vivid hallucinations and visions of schizophrenia. The latter scenario is especially seen in cases where psychological trauma, such as the loss of a loved one or the breakup of a relationship, triggers mental illness. A person in such a situation may not even realize that he or she has developed a treatable mental illness, but rather believes that he or she is using alcohol to temporarily escape from the trauma of the event in question. However, because alcohol does not treat the underlying illness, dependency will set in as soon as the patient finds he or she has to consume large quantities of alcohol on a regular basis. A patient in this situation will increase alcohol intake not only to continue to escape the feeling that he or she does not realize are symptoms of mental illness but also to deal with the cravings for alcohol and withdrawal symptoms that the overuse of alcohol has caused.
Alcoholism Rehab Centers with Dual Diagnosis Services
A dual diagnosis treatment center is a substance abuse treatment facility that assists patients who are struggling not only with drug or alcohol addiction but who are also struggling with a related mental illness. Unfortunately, dual diagnosis treatment centers are rare and most treatment centers focus only on addiction. Since addiction and mental illness often occur together and reinforce one another, treatment centers that deal with both problems simultaneously are very valuable.
How Do I Start Treatment?
Hotline to Call
If you or someone you know is medicating the symptoms of mental illness with alcohol rather than seeking medical care, please call our 24-hour hotline or fill out the contact form so we can help you find the right dual-diagnosis alcohol rehab program to begin the road to healing and health.
A dual-diagnosis alcohol rehab program must first focus on ridding the patient’s body of alcohol and reducing his or her cravings for it. Besides the physical dangers that alcohol abuse poses on its own, alcohol reacts very dangerously with many medications that are used to treat mental illness. Treatment for mental illness cannot start until it is clear that the patient will not be tempted to consume even a small amount of alcohol in response to any cravings that he or she may feel. In addition, alcohol abuse may already have caused a rehabilitation patient to develop liver damage or other physical disorders that are exacerbated by the administration of medication for psychiatric illness. This must be taken into account when determining the type of treatment for mental illness that will begin after the acute detoxification stage of dual-diagnosis alcohol treatment.
Once the patient has completed the initial stage of alcohol rehabilitation, dual-diagnosis alcohol treatment focuses on medical and psychological treatment of the underlying mental illness that caused the patient to turn to alcohol. First of all, tests are administered so that a proper diagnosis can be made. Then, taking into account the patient’s physical health, as well as his or her lifestyle and the severity of the mental illness that has been diagnosed, treatment, consisting of medication together with counseling, can begin. Whenever mental illness is suspected as the triggering factor for alcohol abuse, it is imperative that dual-diagnosis alcohol rehab begins as quickly as possible. The physical damage caused by long-term alcohol abuse severely complicates the medical treatment of the types of mental illness that are actually the underlying causes of alcoholism in dual-diagnosis patients.
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