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Dual Diagnosis


Drug and alcohol addiction is a problem that affects many in New Hampshire and across the country. This problem is complicated by the presence of mental and emotional disorders in many drug and alcohol abusers. New Hampshire rehab centers offer dual diagnosis treatment and management plans to help patients who are suffering from both addiction and co-existing disorders.

What is dual diagnosis?

Dual diagnosis is a condition in which the patient suffers from a substance abuse habit and a mental or emotional condition. This is also known as a co-existing disorder. There is not one specific way in which a co-existing order can develop, but a variety of ways. The substance abuse disorder my stem from the addiction or vice versa. Regardless, a dual diagnosis is incredibly complex. Therefore, each disorder requires professional, and simultaneous treatment, in order for recovery to be most effective.

Specific interactions between addictions and co-existing disorders

Many forms of dual diagnosis addiction exist, but the following disorders are most commonly found among rehab patients.

  • Depression: Many people who suffer from chronic depression use alcohol and drugs to escape from the emotional pain caused by their condition. Alcoholism is especially prevalent among the chronically depressed.
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): PTSD causes emotionally painful flashbacks to traumatic experiences in the sufferer. Some PTSD victims use drugs or alcohol in an attempt to gain temporary relief from these flashbacks.
  • Anxiety: Generalized anxiety and periodic panic attacks can causes severe emotional distress in those who suffer from them. Some people with chronic anxiety disorders use drugs in order to escape from the symptoms of the disorder.
  • Eating disorders: Many forms of eating disorder are linked to body dysmorphia, a condition in which the self-image of the body is distorted. This condition can lead to depression and the abuse of drugs or alcohol as a form of escape. Specific eating disorders such as anorexia also encourage the abuse of diet pills and other drugs that cause severe weight loss.
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD): OCD causes its sufferers to engage in repetitive and irrational patterns of behavior that can be extremely disruptive to their daily lives. Some severe OCD sufferers abuse opiates, which offer a temporary form of relief from the symptoms of the disorder.
  • Drug and/or alcohol abuse: Prolonged substance abuse has the ability to greatly affect the mental well-being of addicts. They lose grip of their emotions and this can lead to a list of mental health disorders.

Treatment for dual diagnosis patients

Approximately four million Americans suffer from an addiction and a co-existing disorder. In response, many rehab centers offer the following dual diagnosis treatment methods to their patients:

  • Psychotherapy: This traditional method of counseling is designed to recognize specific mental and emotional disorders in the patient. Psychotherapy sessions can help rehab staff create more effective and individualized plans of treatment for dual diagnosis patients..
  • Psychopharmacology: Certain drugs that are designed specifically to treat the patient’s mental disorder may be prescribed to help keep his or her symptoms in check. These medications can also help make subsequent courses of drug treatment therapy more effective.
  • Behavioral management: Cognitive-behavioral therapy counseling sessions are generally helpful for all rehab patients. The goal of CBT is to help the patient identify and learn to effectively cope with stressful elements in his life that may contribute to his drug or alcohol abuse habits. By doing so, the patient can learn and put into practice healthy behaviors that do not involve the abuse of drugs or alcohol.

The Importance of Aftercare

Following rehab, the patient may consider attending further sessions of counseling in order to keep track of his progress and to help identify the signs of a possible relapse into previous patterns of alcohol or drug abuse. The patient may also be required to continue taking medication to control the symptoms of his disorder.

Enrollment in a twelve-step program such as Alcoholics or Narcotics Anonymous can also provide the patient with contacts among his fellow recovering substance abusers. These groups involve regular meetings in which members share their struggles and experiences in a supportive and nonjudgmental environment.

Find help with addiction today

If you or a loved one are suffering from an addiction to alcohol or drugs, now is the time to explore your options for treatment. An addiction specialist can guide you in the direction of treatment and overall freedom from addiction.