It’s something you see every day, at every outpatient rehab center in the country. A client comes in for drug treatment and they’re suffering terribly. They’re desperate, terrified, and terminally sad. They present symptoms of every emotional and mental disorder the human race has ever seen. It’s a clear case of dual diagnosis, right?
Maybe, maybe not. The truth is most addicts come to an outpatient rehab center with symptoms of this or that emotional disorder. How could they not? They’re coming off months and years of systematic drug and alcohol abuse. They’re bound to feel terrible in a number of ways. But this doesn’t necessarily mean they have a dual diagnosis.
With a little abstinence and treatment, sometimes these symptoms go away on their own. Unfortunately, dual diagnosis doesn’t work that way. When substance abuse is accompanied by mental illness, the symptoms can linger long after the using stops. That’s why the outpatient rehab center has to get the diagnosis right.
One Mind with Two Conditions and all of it Treatable
But once the diagnosis is made, the outpatient rehab can get to work treating it. They’ll probably use something called parallel treatment. This just means they’ll treat both parts of the disorder at the same time. In the past, therapists might treat one part first, then the other. But now most professionals consider dual diagnosis as part of a continuum.
A good outpatient rehab center offers specialized treatment for dual diagnosis clients, not just a mix of two different modes. Every treatment plan is different, but most dual diagnosis protocols have many things in common. The key is that the treatment be properly integrated, that all the moving parts are moving together towards recovery.
Dual diagnosis treatment plans focus on building self esteem, confidence, and tools for long term recovery. They acknowledge the need for psychiatric medications and suggest them when appropriate. They pinpoint specific therapeutic needs and work vigorously to address them. And when the outpatient treatment is finished, they set up aftercare programs to sustain both recovery and sound mental health.