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Dual Diagnosis

Dual Diagnosis

Dual Diagnosis

What does Dual Diagnosis Mean?

A person who has a Dual Diagnosis is someone who has both a mental illness and a substance abuse disorder. Either illness can come first. In some cases, a person with mental health issues will turn to alcohol or drugs to try and cope. In other instances, alcohol or drug use can lead to mental illness. Dual diagnosis effects almost 9 million people a year. A person with a mental health condition is two times as likely as a mentally healthy person to suffer from substance abuse.
For someone that has a Dual Diagnosis, it is very important that you treat both the mental illness as well as the substance abuse. If you only treat one, it will act as a merry-go-round, making one condition worse and perhaps, relapsing on the other. It will be a continuous cycle. The old way of thinking where doctors would tell you they couldn’t treat your depression because you are also using drugs and/or alcohol is outdated. Both illnesses need to be attended to.

Conditions that May Co-Occur

There are many disorders that can Co-Mingle together, although some are more common than others. The most common Co-Occurring disorders that are seen with substance abuse are:
• Anxiety disorders
• Eating disorders
• Bipolar disorder
• Personality/mood disorders
• Schizophrenia
In another category, certain mental illnesses “attract” certain substance uses. Some examples includes:
• Bipolar and Alcoholism
• PTSD and Opioids
• ADHD and Alcoholism
• Depression and Cocaine

Signs and Symptoms of Dual Diagnosis

Some common signs and symptoms to look for when trying to determine a Dual Diagnosis include:
• You can’t remember the last time you were happy and drugs and/or alcohol were not involved
• You started drinking and/or using drugs to try and help manage stresses of every day life
• You have experienced trauma in your life
• Mental illness runs in your family

Treating Dual Diagnosis

Dual Diagnosis requires special care to make sure both conditions are being addressed. People can receive this type of treatment through Rehabilitation Facilities that offer treatment for both substance abuse and mental illness. Only treating one problem may put the person at risk for relapse.

How to Defeat Holiday Depression in Sobriety

How to Defeat Holiday Depression in Sobriety

It’s that time of the year again. The time of the year where we rush from one heat source to the next(even those of us in America sadly). The time of the year where a hot cup of java and yoga/sweat/pajama pants are your best friend (more so than normal). That time of the year where all the holidays coincide(Hanukkah having just passed; Christmas and Kwanzaa still around the corner). Yup, you guessed it, it’s wintertime.

Some people enjoy the crisp freshness of spring, while others prefer the colors of a golden autumn day. I personally love everything to do with cold weather, even though I ironically choose to dwell in America while sweating my rump off every day. However, winter just has a way of adding a heaviness that many could do without; love of chilly weather or not.

Yet aside from those hypothermic temperatures up north and the obnoxious over coagulated hoards of tourists traveling down south to get away from it, this time of the year gives holiday depression to many in sobriety. All of the coldness in itself just makes things a general struggle. Nobody wants to shiver their arse off while they sit outside on their lunch break, nor do they want to violently chatter their teeth as they walk their child to school, but that’s life though.

These are the commitments we signed up for by agreeing to live. We overcome and triumph over obstacles. Either that or death is the other option, and that doesn’t sound too fun. You see, everybody copes with their tribulations differently, so it’s about finding what gets you by. While some will be using substances to stay warm mentally, those of us who will the holiday depression in sobriety will be relying on other methods this December.

Sobriety Around the Holidays
For those in recovery, the idea is to return our sanity while improving our overall wellness. The ugliness of holiday depression has been known to bring out irritability, frustration, and discontent cognition as a representation of alcoholic thinking even in the best of us. Realizing that a glass of eggnog won’t be solving any character defects anytime soon is a good place to start. Being sober, clearly, we need to look for other methods to deal with. Sober methods.

Keeping in mind that recovery is our number one priority, even around the holidays, is vital. We need to remember that there is a solution for every discomfort we come across this December. So if something is creating some sort of drug provoked discomfort, remove yourself from the situation. It really can be as tasks as just walking away like that to protect yourself.

On the other hand, for a lot of us, that discomfort ends up being family. Now, we all love our families, but there’s no denying how tiresome and stressful it can be spending such copious amounts of time around them. For some, painful memories of the past evoke holiday depression and the nubilous occasions become even more monstrous. Even so, we can’t really just walk away from them. Family is more complicated than that for most. However, rest assured that there are ways to deal with your relatives without getting loaded.

Defeating Holiday Depression
One of the keys to defeating holiday depression is to find safe, proactive ways to get past it. If these times are typically a bummer, next year try spending your holiday at a local recovery clubhouse. Might sound lame, but that’s the attitude of Ebenezer Scrooge. Bah Humbug. Every single person reading this would be shocked to see how holly jolly of a time they would have at the right anonymous meetings. People bring the spirit and cheer to their meetings around this time of year. Then there are those of us that bring our holiday depression, funking up the whole place. The yin and yang of things. However, watching the two sides shift as tender energy overcomes is a feeling of warmth that only sobriety can deliver.

Examples like going to an anonymous related clubhouse are one of the books that will strike back a holiday depression for most anybody. On the other hand, if it doesn’t, a few other clever methods to stay happy and sober through the yuletide include:

Meditating Outside/Taking Advantage of Cold Weather
Volunteering/Giving Back to Those Less Fortunate
Reminding Yourself It’s the Season of Giving(Including to Yourself)
Writing in a Journal (Even if it’s About Your Disdain for Winter)
Take Advantage of Seasonal Foods/Beverages.
As for that last one, pig out! It’s that one time of year that we should be allowed to eat seasonal foods and not feel guilty. Tasty treats are always a good remedy for defeating holiday depression. Live a little. The idea is to find that sober comfort lodged within the ice of heaviness that emotion surrounds. We don’t have to be forced into sub-zero times just because of sub-zero temperatures.

This the Season for ification
Our alcoholic thinking is the abominable creature in the other room that wants nothing more than to eat us alive. We mustn’t ever forget where we were at the beginning of our journey into sobriety. We’ve played the tape out, remembered the awful times, and going out would only be a confirmation of the insanity we are trying to rid ourselves of. Don’t allow just to take over.

Sometimes defeating that holiday depression is as simple as just calling ourselves out. As addicts, we will search for any excuse we can to rationalize our poor decisions. Playing the tape over is sometimes the difference between throwing your life away for fun or throwing a snowball. For those of us in America, we have sand…I wouldn’t recommend throwing sand, but do what you have to in order to defeat the bug and abstain from drinking. It’ll work if you work it. Happy Holidays!

7 Signs That You May Have Depression

7 Signs That You May Have Depression

Feeling tired, lethargic, or just not yourself? Has life got you down? Are you currently or constantly wondering when it will just end? Well if the answer is yes to any of these downtrodden questions, then you may be experiencing a few signs of depression. Life is such a mystery that none of us ever really know what to expect. Sometimes we undergo different experiences- sometimes similar, but we maintain mostly alike agendas smothered in unpredictability more often than not.

That being said, every being has a journey they’re taken thru as they discover the uncertainty preordained in this lifetime. Fate is quite a mysterious creature. Yet even with all the differences and similarities at hand, nothing prepares us for the unknown. Nobody knows exactly what to do right off the bat when the signs of depression start to arrive.

Sad is a mere description of depression that doesn’t even make a piece of the cake. It is an overwhelming force of negativity that can take over you. Some turn to medication, others to therapy, and then there is a plethora of us that turn to illicit substances. You see addiction and depression go together like peas and carrots. It doesn’t matter if its problems at home, relationships at work, or even monetary issues occurring that are causing this duo funk- depression nor alcoholism will know no bounds. Imprisonment within your own body is a terrible way to live.

Depressive Debilitation
Clinical depression, or Major Depressive Disorder as some like to call it, really is a mental disability with extreme discomfort for the individual or any loved ones within that circle. Signs of depression are extremely common among people who have addictive personalities. Alcohol itself is a depressant and will often times intensify the daunting thoughts calling the shots. So then the alcoholic drinks more to alleviate the disheartening thoughts and thus finds themself in a dependent loophole. We feel more by trying to feel less.

Depression coupled with any form of abuse will cripple a person to a point where they no longer have confidence in themselves. As addicts and alcoholics, we look to the substance to fill this hole inside because something is missing, but it only spreads that hole even wider. The usage adds difficulty while subtracting things like our self-esteem, ambition, and positivity. We cause pain by drinking to alleviate pain. Might as well be drinking a tall glass of irony.

Part of both diseases is that they want us to remember all the wonderful highs or happy times. The sick part is that they both want us to do that while we completely forget about all the bad trips and horrible nights we cried ourselves to sleep. The signs of depression that show up will literally squeeze the life out of you like a boa constrictor. Addiction will help you to forget all the days that an empty bottle or a rusty dull syringe were your only company, while depression reminds you that it’s what you deserve. Nasty. Signs of depression coupled along with alcoholic thinking will show us a path where death is the end product to ending this “uncomfortable madness”. We have to clip this wick to prevent the candle from burning out too early.

Deep in a Slump
Chemical dependent or not, depression affects everybody differently. It’s estimated that roughly 50% of those with the disease of alcoholism also deal with depression, anxiety, or some other mental disorder coupled with it. About 10% of that figure can be accounted for our Eeyore disorder. Even though 10% seems like a small percentage, it’s still large enough to make a difference. Small isn’t small enough. When this sort of unhappiness takes a hold of somebody- it changes them. They begin to act in ways that emulate:

Extreme Irritability
Anger Management Issues
Loss of Interest
Fixation on Past or Future
Thoughts of Self Harm/Suicide

Recognizing alcoholic thinking is much harder than accepting depression. One is blatantly in your face while the other is blatantly in your face but convincing you all the while it doesn’t exist. The two together will powerhouse you- but it’s about perseverance and seeing the greater good thru the fog. To admit one is an addict or alcoholic is the easy part. To accept it there is no other direction this thing can take you is truly where any sort of change begins.

Conquering Self-Doubt
It’s sad how either one of these diseases can take control of somebody’s thinking so simply, but alas, that’s what disease does. The sad truth is that the truth is often sad. There’s never really a choice in the matter when it comes to sickness- and sickness is how these should always be viewed. However, there is a difference between fighting it and rolling over into darkness.

Some alcoholic thinkers never find a solution to their problem. These misguided souls end up enduring the torment that the signs of depression and substance abuse make a reality until they draw their last breaths. To admit out loud that you have run all other options into the ground and have accepted your desperation may be what it takes to make some final changes- yet easier said than done. Nobody is doomed if they decide they don’t want to be.

Regular psychiatric assessments can be a godsend for those who truly want to keep moving forward in alleviating their signs of depression. A life of melancholia does not have to be the life lead. When desolation sits in, we just have to remember nothing is permanent in life except for death. Emotion is always temporary. There is a solution for every problem out there and they all start from within.

How to Beat the Mental Obsession of Drug and Alcohol Abuse

How to Beat the Mental Obsession of Drug and Alcohol Abuse

The human mind is similar to having an infinite number sided dice with unlimited rolls. Sure it might land on the same sides twice- anything is possible, but ultimately there will be a different result most every time that dice is tossed. The possibilities are seemingly limitless. Dare I say “sky’s the limit”?

Human beings can be thinking of one thing particularly, then with another roll of the dice, something of completely different nature seconds later. Then add another infinite sided dice to this game we call life. We just doubled infinity- however that is possible.

Eventually thoughts are flying all over the place and any sane individual is just trying to keep up with them. The point being made here is that the demands of reality can become overwhelming at times. Many addicts and alcoholics turn to various substances just for this reason. The numbing effect of narcotics can make the chaos upstairs mutable at points, but nothing is ever permanent. Most addicts begin to realize how unsustainable this lifestyle is sooner than later. The results can be anything opposite of pretty until this person enters recovery. It is here that we learn how to beat the mental obsession of drug and alcohol abuse.

Out thinking the Mental Obsession
With so many prospects on the horizon, the brain looks for an excuse to cool off for a moment, but there are ways to do that without the detrimental effects of chemical narcolepsy. To beat the mental obsession of drug and alcohol abuse, there must be a want to do so. There has to be a want to shift the focus onto self as we take a deeper look at how our gears turn.

Sobriety is all about mindfulness and becoming aware of the things we ignored for so long. As we begin looking at our reflection, becoming conscious of ourselves will in effect make immediate changes to our overall being. Practicing this state in sobriety will not only help us to reduce anxiety and/or depression, increase concentration techniques, and better our sleeping patterns, but it will also improve overall mental health while even lowering stress too.

Practicing this will not beat the mental obsession of drug and alcohol abuse completely, but it will help us to get to know ourselves a little better at least. We all think we know ourselves because we are ourselves- duh. Realistically the amount of people who barely know their wants, needs, and desires is flabbergasting. Utilizing our new techniques might be the only way we ever see ourselves clearly.

Fixing the Fixation

If we really want to beat the mental obsession of drug and alcohol abuse, we have to take a step back and really process our surroundings. Breaking everything down and recognizing how we react to stimulus is what it all boils down too. Relapse happens, but it starts itself in the mind. When we are focused on the obsession of getting high, our thoughts are always running rampant. This however does not mean they are untameable though. A few ways to catch ourselves straying from the big sober picture include:

Watching Our Thought Bubbles
Paying Close Attention to the Senses Engaged
Noticing Our Emotions
Anything Meditative Based
Taking Deep Breaths
Focusing Intently on Something Else

practicing any one of these tactics can help you on a road to feeling more at peace. Remember, negative thoughts appears from time to time- it’s okay. Emotions will always pass if we allow them. keep in mind that everything is temporary except death. No amount of pessimism is worth a fatality.

Occupying Unoccupied Obsessions
Beating the mental obsession of drug and alcohol abuse leaves more room for experience and wisdom. Most of us go day in and day out without realizing how blah we can be at times with everything we do. We are quick to turn on autopilot when things get mundane. Are we still learning? Are we still trying to learn? Have we gotten life figured out already? The answer to that last one is “no” for sure. We’ll never have life figured out, nor will we ever discover the meaning to it. However, why not try to expand beyond substance abuse. Surely there’s more to life than empty bottles and broken crack stems.

All thoughts manifest and we either allow them to expand or we shut them down immediately. Being mindful in sobriety requires actually realizing each thought as it occurs and then understanding such. We have so many thoughts that we keep to ourselves, but we must recognize the need for them to be brought to light at least with ourselves. So much is seen but so little information is shared. Keeping everything to ourselves and watching the world thru such a gray lens is what gives purpose to addiction/alcoholism. The disease feeds off of unrelieved monotony. Starving it for all you’re worth is how to beat the mental obsession of drug and alcohol abuse.

What Classifies As Depression?

What Classifies As Depression?

There is still a lot of misinformation regarding what is and what isn’t depression. Because of this, many people suffering from a depressive disorder might never be diagnosed, which is an issue as bad as it would be with any illness that is not treated. On the other hand, self-diagnosing and medicating have become extremely common as well. In both cases, the main issue is that people still fail to grasp exactly what could be classified as depression.

Feelings of sadness or grief, though often seen as unpleasant and disruptive, shouldn’t necessarily be a cause for concern in case there is a reason behind it – the death of a loved one, unemployment, break-ups, etc – and if they manifest themselves for short periods of time. Nonetheless, those two symptoms are two of the most common in most depressive disorders, and when combined with others, if they linger for weeks or months, they can be a true sign of depression. If it comes to a point where someone is not able to fulfill mundane tasks or start to lose track of their lives, then it is certainly causing concern and it is likely they are suffering from a disorder.

Some of the signs of depression include:

  • Low mood (not necessarily just sadness)
  • Low self-esteem, negative sense of self, or even guilt
  • Less pleasure in activities that used to be enjoyable
  • Appetite changes (eating too much or too little)
  • Changes in sleep patterns (sleeping too much or too little)
  • Reduced physical energy, or fatigue
  • Increased purposeless activities (hand wringing, pacing)
  • Slowed rhythm in speech and/or movements
  • Having a hard time making decisions, concentrating, or thinking
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

It is important to point out that experiencing one or a few of these symptoms at once does not mean you are suffering from depression. The only way to truly know whether you are depressed or actually affected by another disorder is to see a trustworthy health care provider who can properly diagnose you.

How Alcohol Can Affect Depression

It is not unusual for people, even those who are not alcoholics, to take their emotions out on drinking. Now, it’s one thing to have a casual drink, and it is not necessarily a sign of anything per se. But for some, a casual drink can start happening more and more often. On people who have a tendency or family history of depression, the odds of a habit getting out of control are actually higher. 

While the occasional drink might not do anyone much harm, long-term frequent drinking can actually worsen the symptoms of depression. One of the reasons why some turn to alcohol to feel better is because it works as a depressant, giving a general feeling of relaxation. The problem with that is that, as time goes by, more and more alcohol is needed in order to feel as relaxed as before. 

That is a problem with alcohol that anyone can face, but someone suffering from depression will have additional problems to consider. Alcohol can actually lower the effectiveness of antidepressants, or even render them completely ineffective. And since the substance is a depressant after all, as the name suggests, it can aggravate symptoms of depression and make matters worse.

Alcohol and Depression: What is Dual-diagnosis?

Not only is it possible to suffer from both depression and alcoholism, but it is actually quite common for people to receive what is called a dual diagnosis. A dual-diagnosis patient is a person who suffers from any two psychiatric illnesses and addiction, one of the possibilities being depression and alcoholism.

According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, an average of 6 out of 10 substance abusers are also diagnosed with another mental illness – meaning it happens more often than not. When it comes to alcohol abuse specifically, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that it is one of the behaviors that are often associated with depression.

In some cases, people develop symptoms of depression first and eventually try to “treat” them with substances such as alcohol. Some studies also suggest that people commonly develop alcoholism and that his causes major depression. The order is can go varies, and studies are still being made in order to understand why the two are often connected, and which triggers what. Nonetheless, it is known that both disorders feed off of each other, leaving the user in a cycle that can be hard to break.

It is important to point out that a number of factors can influence both disorders as well, such as environment and lifestyle, genetics, and finally, chemical imbalances. It is not just a matter of behavior or choosing to do certain things. Considering how we are all easily exposed to alcohol in our lives, it can be hard to say which of these aspects of someone’s life can be the main “reason” for co-occurring disorders. But the point should never be to attribute blame but to find the root(s) of the problems in order to treat them. 

Getting The Help You Need

There are a number of studies on what would be the best way to treat co-occurring disorders, and it can be done in different ways: sequential, parallel, or integrated. In sequential treatment, one would address the most acute disorder first, and only afterward get treated for the second one; in parallel treatment, they’re treated at the same time by different teams; and in integrated treatment, the patient would be treated for everything by the same group of professionals. 

No matter which treatment you’d prefer for your co-occurring disorders, we at Amethyst Recovery Center can help you with what you need. In fact, we have developed a special program for dual-diagnosis patients. Many people are misdiagnosed or mistreated for one or more disorders, and our professionals are capable of providing all the services needed to undo that damage, from the initial detox all the way to helping make plans for the immediate future right after a patient leaves our facilities.

10 Things You Need to Know About Dual Diagnosis Treatment

10 Things You Need to Know About Dual Diagnosis Treatment

Here’s everything I know about addiction in five words: It isn’t about the substances.

Alcohol and pills are just the medications people take when they’re feeling depressed, anxious, and hopeless. In our experience, people reach for drugs, booze, or other substances when they don’t have the tools they need to cope with some untreated underlying condition – usually trauma and loss.

This is actually good news, because if we can treat those underlying core issues – if we can address what is causing the depression, anxiety, self-loathing, and so forth – then there’s no need to self-medicate anymore.

What is Dual Diagnosis?

When people have a mental health issue coupled with substance abuse, it’s called a dual diagnosis. Examples of dual diagnosis pairings include alcoholism and depression, or drug abuse and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

If you are struggling with addiction or substance abuse, here’s a list of things you need to know when seeking treatment:

  • #1 Chances are good that you have a dual diagnosis. A 2015 SAMHSA report quoted on NAMI’s Mental Health by the Numbers page states that, “Among the 20.2 million adults in the U.S. who experienced a substance use disorder, 50.5%? – ?10.2 million adults? – had a co-occurring mental illness.”My experience as the co-founder and CEO of a residential recovery program leads me to believe that that rate is actually much higher. Do you suspect that your untreated depression, anxiety, or trauma are driving your substance use? If so, know that you’re not alone. In fact, you’re not even in the minority. Most people who deal with addiction have a concurrent mental health condition that has not been addressed adequately.
  • #2 The mental health issue typically predates the substance abuse issue. Though substance abuse can exacerbate – and in some cases, cause – mental health issues, much more often the mental health issue comes first.I see it every day. When participants in our recovery program tell me their stories, they almost always trace their own use of substances back to a mental health condition. They say, “I had this trauma, and then this big loss, and then I started drinking,” or, “I’ve been depressed and anxious for years, and it just got to be too much.”
  • #3 If you have a dual diagnosis, medical detox is just the first step. For addictions fueled by mental health conditions, simply clearing your body of drugs, alcohol, or other toxic substances isn’t enough. Professional medical detox is a great start, but it’s not the end of the road.In order to truly recover from addiction, you need to resolve the underlying mental and emotional issues that led you to start using in the first place.
  • #4 Dual diagnosis conditions require dual diagnosis treatments. This might sound obvious, but many times people with a dual diagnosis sign up for addiction treatment that doesn’t address their mental health issue. For example, while the 12 Steps have done a lot of good for a lot of people, they were designed as a spiritual program, not a psychotherapeutic one. The 12 Steps were not designed to address mental health issues such as bipolar disorder and major depression. True dual diagnosis treatment includes professional services to address those issues.
  • #5 Historically, addiction and mental health issues were treated separately.In sequential treatment – a popular approach prior to the 1990’s – individuals with a dual diagnosis were required to receive treatment for their substance abuse prior to receiving mental health services. Since the mental health issue typically predates substance abuse, this approach was problematic. Soon sequential treatment gave way to parallel treatment. In parallel treatment, people with dual diagnoses received mental health supports and addiction treatment at the same time. However, the individual’s support teams typically didn’t communicate. There was a distinct lack of continuity and a high probability of conflicting guidance. Truly integrative treatment – that is, an individual receiving both mental health services and addiction treatment at the same time through the same system –  is relatively new to the scene.
  • #6 True dual diagnosis treatment includes substantive professional mental health counseling. When you’re dealing with a mental health concern such as depression, anxiety, or trauma, it’s important to work with a qualified mental health professional. Culturally, we take this for granted when there’s no substance abuse involved. When someone we love has suicidal depression, for example, we help them get to a trained therapist. However, when someone we love has issues with drugs and alcohol along with a mental health condition, this logic flies out the window. We send them to support groups led by people with no mental health training and pray that they recover. But what if we provided real, substantive mental health care instead?
  • #7 Not every rehab that claims dual diagnosis treatment really provides it. There are addiction treatment centers out there more interested in profits than in healing. Unfortunately, treatment center marketing tends to be more hype than substance, lacking key program information such as total counseling hours and overall program cost. It doesn’t have to be this way. My colleagues and I are committed to cost transparency, and our program includes over 120 hours of evidence-based individual and small group therapy led by licensed mental health professionals. This approach is still relatively rare in the industry, but it is possible to find programs that are doing things differently.
  • #8 Just because the 12 Steps didn’t work for you doesn’t mean you can’t recover.I hear from so many people who are discouraged after trying one, two, or more traditional 12 Step recovery programs. They believe that because they didn’t succeed there, they can’t stay clean. Fortunately, that’s not the case. We know that the 12 Step system works well for some, but we also know that it wasn’t created to help people heal from mental health issues. So of course people with a dual diagnosis need a different approach! Nowadays there are Non 12 Step rehab programs springing up across the country; recent estimates from American Addiction Centers tell us that approximately 26% of all residential rehabs are Non 12 Step. That said, you still need to do your homework and investigate each rehab’s treatment modality. Which brings us to…
  • #9 There are a ton of addiction treatment approaches out there, some are much more effective than others. Addiction treatment modalities can be broadly split into 12 Step and Non 12 Step approaches. Within the Non 12 Step category (sometimes referred to as 12 Step Alternatives), there’s a plethora of modalities, some of which can be considered dual diagnosis treatment. Popular 12 Step alternative approaches include aversion therapy, medication, behavior modification, education, and holistic treatment. As you investigate rehab programs, also look into the success rates of their approaches. Read the statistics on which ones really work and go from there.
  • #10 Can’t find the dual diagnosis treatment you’re looking for? Don’t give up.If your initial round of research doesn’t yield positive results, keep searching. Somewhere, there is a program for you. You might need to look outside of your city or state. Finding and getting to the right counselor or program might be a logistical stretch. My encouragement is this: you are worth the fight.