Mental illness comes in various forms. Symptoms and effects vary, depending on the type of mental health disorder a person has. Sometimes, it can be hard to determine the best way to treat and manage mental health challenges. And, often, people who suffer from mental illness need addiction treatment that addresses other areas of their lives, too.

The Connection Between Mental Illness and Substance Abuse

Many people don’t realize that they have a mental health disorder until much later in life. Mental illness symptoms can sneak up anybody, and it can be extremely confusing and scary. Rather than asking for help, it’s quite common for people to self-medicate with drugs or alcohol.

After self-medicating for a while, many individuals develop substance abuse problems. When this happens, individuals begin to struggle with the symptoms of mental health disorders in addition to substance use problems.

When a person suffers from a mental illness and an addiction problem, he or she has what’s called “co-occurring disorders”. Cases of co-occurring disorders are also known as dual diagnoses. Those who are dealing with these issues should seek a certain kind of addiction treatment.

Perhaps you want to recover from a drug or alcohol addiction but also have a mental health disorder. If this is the case in your life, you should always go to a dual diagnosis treatment center.

The Science Behind Co-Occurring Disorders

In many cases, self-medication aggravates a mental illness. The brain is constantly changing and learning how to help you feel well. If your mind is racing, or you’re constantly depressed, you may find that drugs or alcohol make you happy or calm you down. When the brain makes this connection, it begins to crave substances to make you feel better. Over time, this “solution” can eventually become your biggest problem.

Mind-altering substances can actually exacerbate mental illness symptoms. They can also counteract the effects of any prescriptions you take for various mental health disorders. When you choose substance abuse programs that specialize in dual diagnosis, you’ll begin to find better solutions.

Why Dual Diagnosis Treatment Is Important

When choosing a dual diagnosis treatment center, you’ll begin to find answers. Finding out that some of your thoughts and emotions come from mental illness means that you can find a solution. It’s also vital for your long-term addiction recovery as well.

Some of the most common mental illnesses include:

Again, many people develop addiction problems as a result of self-medication. But, in some situations, people develop symptoms of mental illness because of their substance use habits. For example, a person who has an alcoholism problem may become depressed because of the effects of alcoholism.

Regardless of whether addiction or mental illness comes first, those who have co-occurring disorders should get help from a dual diagnosis treatment program. This kind of rehab program offers people the chance to improve their mental health and end addiction.

When a person is suffering from co-occurring disorders, his or her addiction might worsen the symptoms of mental illness. On the other hand, a person’s mental health symptoms might lead to even more substance use and abuse.

So, it’s absolutely necessary for those who are seeking addiction treatment to get help through a program that will address both mental health and substance abuse. 

Why Mental Illness Goes Unnoticed

Educators often shy away from the topic of mental health. Unfortunately, this promotes a negative stigma concerning mental illness. While most students go through some form of health education, it typically focuses mainly on physical health. There’s a misconception that having a mental illness is shameful or embarrassing.

Also, many parents lack an understanding of mental health in general. So, they may not be able to teach their children about it.

When a person begins to develop a mental illness, it’s extremely confusing because he or she doesn’t know what’s happening. It’s difficult to understand why you constantly feel in a state of panic while everyone else seems fine. You may not understand why it’s difficult to get out of bed when you’re worried about yourself and your future. Instead of talking with someone about these issues, it’s common for individuals to self-medicate with illicit substances.

Sometimes, symptoms of mental illness are thought to be normal characteristics. For example, people may consider constant feelings of anxiety as the characteristic of a “nervous personality”. Feelings of fear might be considered the nature of a “worrier”. That’s just the way he/she is. This is often the thought process that rationalizes the way a person behaves or feels. But, having this approach might actually cause people to overlook what are actually mental illness symptoms rather than personality traits.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment Center at Crest View Recovery Center

If needed, addiction treatment should begin at a qualified drug or alcohol detox facility that uses a trauma-informed approach. In some cases, people begin to see a drastic improvement in their mental health once they go through the detox process.

Medical detox is instrumental in helping to clear the body from alcohol and drugs as well as the toxins they bring to the body. Once you are truly free from the physical influence of substance use, you can successfully move on to becoming emotionally and mentally free.

After the detox process is complete, you’ll go through an evaluation with a psychiatrist to check your symptoms. This may be a breath of fresh air because you might get answers as to why you experience such strange thoughts and emotions.

After the evaluation process, you can begin the treatment process through our inpatient or outpatient programs. Throughout your time in treatment, you can develop the skills you will need in order to manage mental health symptoms while remaining free from substance abuse.

Treatment for Dual Diagnosis: Holistic Therapy Approaches

Here are some of the therapy approaches that may be involved in your treatment program and some information about how they can help:

Holistic Therapy: There are various types of holistic therapy that may be involved in the addiction treatment process. Holistic approaches do not use medication-based rehab methods. Instead, they focus on bringing healing to the mind and body through spiritual approaches. 

Yoga and Meditation: Both of these are holistic approaches to treatment. They focus on helping the individual to incorporate mindfulness activities. Through practicing mindfulness, people in treatment can develop an awareness of the present and develop a sense of stability. This can help to eliminate compulsive and harmful behaviors.

Fitness Therapy: Sports, hiking, exercise classes, dancing, and other activities may all be involved in fitness therapy. Many times, people think of recovery as the process of emotional healing from the effects of addiction. But, it’s important to also focus on improving physical health throughout the recovery process. After all, substance abuse often negatively affects people’s bodies, too. This is where fitness therapy comes into play. By becoming more physically healthy and fit, individuals may even become more emotionally and mentally healthy. 

Acupuncture: This type of treatment therapy can help to relieve stress and release toxins from the body. During acupuncture therapy, small needles are placed in various areas of the body, at specific pressure points. Each area where these needles are placed will trigger specific responses throughout the body. Pain relief, stress relief, sleep pattern regulation, emotion management, and anxiety relief are all possible benefits of acupuncture.

Treatment for Dual Diagnosis: Behavioral Therapy

Behavioral Therapy: This approach works to help people change harmful behaviors and develop healthier ones. This is helpful because, in order to overcome addiction, individuals must address unhealthy behaviors (i.e. substance abuse, self-medication, violence, anger-related behavior, etc.).

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: Also known as CBT, cognitive behavioral therapy is a type of behavioral therapy. It focuses on the thought patterns and processes of those in treatment. It is literally the focus on cognitive behaviors. In other words, it pays close attention to the actions of the mind, the thoughts people have and why. By focusing on these areas, individuals can identify any harmful, addiction-related thoughts. After identifying these thoughts, individuals can also learn how to properly address them and replace them with better ones. For example, thoughts of worthlessness, guilt, blame (on oneself or another), and more can encourage addiction. But, positive and healthy thoughts can help people to overcome addiction and any behaviors related to it.

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy: This is another type of behavioral therapy and is often called DBT. It’s similar to CBT since it works to identify and modify harmful thought processes. DBT works to help change and improve behaviors, emotions, feelings and thinking patterns. It helps people to identify both their strengths and their weaknesses. Finally, it works to help individuals learn how to avoid or deal with situations that might trigger a relapse.

Let Us Help You Find Freedom Today

Here at Crest View Recovery Center in Asheville, NC, we offer addiction therapy services that address both your addiction and your mental illness. With the aid of our on-site psychiatrist, you’ll start to learn more about the disease of addiction and how it’s perpetuating your mental illness.

You will also find that it’s possible to live a fulfilling life! While you may receive non-narcotic medications to manage mental illness, we also offer holistic healing methods as well. 

At our facility, your needs will always remain at the forefront. We work to make sure that you have everything necessary in order to have a successful recovery. We truly believe that you deserve to live a life that is free from substance abuse and the negative effects it can have on your life. So, our mission is to walk with you every step of the way until you’re able to achieve a life of sobriety.

You don’t have to wait any longer to get the help you need. There is hope through the professional treatment programs here at Crest View. You can take the steps toward finding peace, serenity, and a new way of living. Just contact us here at Crest View Recovery Center today by calling us. Allow us to help you find your way to total freedom from addiction!

Article Reviewed by Patrice Wishon, LCSW, LCAS, CCS

Patrice Wishon, LCSW, LCAS, CCSPatrice has over 30 years experience working in social work and mental health/substance abuse counseling. She received her Master’s degree from UNC-Chapel Hill and has worked in a variety of settings, including community-based outpatient, hospital and classroom settings. Patrice specializes in substance abuse treatment, trauma and women’s issues.