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Dual Diagnosis Rehab

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Dual diagnosis rehab programs have to be planned and implemented differently than regular addiction treatment programs. That's because the person with a dual diagnosis (a mental or personality disorder or other type of psychological problem as well as an addiction to drugs or alcohol) has more than one problem.

Several different psychological disorders can occur along with a substance abuse problem. These include, but are not limited to, depression, anxiety disorders, bi-polar disorder, and schizophrenia. In addition, more health care professionals are beginning include those veterans or civilians who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and have an alcohol or drug problem as being dual-diagnosed.

Asking if mental problems caused the substance abuse or if the substance abuse caused the mental problems is a little like asking the old question of which came first, the chicken or the egg. Oftentimes, mental problems go undiagnosed by medical professionals; however, the person suffering from one knows something isn't quite right and using drugs or alcohol seems to make it better. For others, it is the opposite-substance abuse actually causes the personality or mental disorder.

Surprisingly, it is often when a person enters substance abuse treatment that a mental or personality disorder is first noticed and diagnosed. When this occurs, rehab programs may have to be temporarily suspended so that the person can receive treatment for the mental problem. Once that condition has been stabilized, addiction treatment can be continued, and it is more likely to produce positive results.

No rehabilitation program can start until a person has gone through a detoxification stage. This can be an especially dangerous time for those with dual diagnosis, as their body is being deprived of the substance of abuse, which brings on its own set of physical and emotional problems. During this time, vomiting and nausea can be very prevalent, which can prevent medications for the mental disorder from being absorbed properly and thus allowed to work effectively.

Once detoxification has been achieved, however, addiction treatment can begin. For some patients with dual diagnosis, especially those who are veterans and are suffering with PTSD, rehab programs can be adapted to include specific methods which have been shown to work very well in patients with PTSD and substance abuse problems. These include, but are not limited to: cognitive behavioral therapy, medication therapy, and retraining in such things as money management, vocational rehabilitation, and job skills.

ognitive behavior therapy is accomplished with computer use. Special computer programs, designed to be very computer-friendly offer training that helps a patient to avoid relapse. This allows a patient to access the program when he first starts feeling that relapse may be imminent. There is no reason to wait until the urge becomes so strong that one may suffer a setback.

Medication therapy is also often used in substance abuse treatment of those suffering from dual diagnosis, especially those who also have PTSD. One of the problems with PTSD is re-occurring nightmares. Certain medications can control these, allowing the patient to be more receptive to rehabilitation. Other medications can help control cravings for drugs or alcohol or make the withdrawal/detoxification phase a little easier to bear.


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