What is a Dual Diagnosis?

Dual diagnosis, also known as co-occurring disorders, concurrent disorders or co-morbid disorders, is a term used to describe someone who is affected by both a chemical addiction (to drugs or alcohol) and a psychiatric or mental illness, including eating disorders such as bulimia, anorexia, compulsive eating or binge eating disorder.

Steps to Recovery for Dual Diagnosis Treatment

In the past, addiction treatment programs and eating disorder programs have treated dual diagnosis separately. The results of this type of approach were less than satisfactory. Today, specialized dual diagnosis programs that treat the addiction and eating disorder concurrently have far better results.

  • The first step in dual diagnosis treatment is detoxifying, or cleansing, the body of alcohol and/or drugs. The goal of detox is to manage and sometimes eliminate the symptoms associated with drug or alcohol withdrawal. Even people with an eating disorder suffer psychological withdrawal symptoms when they discontinue eating disorder behavior or stop eating certain foods.
  • The first step of the dual diagnosis treatment process is detoxification. Detox programs aim to medically stabilize the individual by safely eliminating all toxins from the body. The toxins could be illegal drugs like heroin or cocaine, prescription drugs such as Vicodin or OxyContin, any other or over the counter substances. Detox should take place in a medically-monitored inpatient detox.facility. The time spent in detox varies, depending on what substances the person is addicted to, the frequency of use, amount of usage and any potential medical issues.
  • Once a person is stabilized, a psychiatrist and addiction treatment staff will assess the patient with regards to their need for ongoing eating disorder or dual diagnosis treatment.
  • Dual diagnosis treatment programs need to follow a steady, yet gradual methodology. Patients have to proceed at their own pace.
  • The goal of any respected drug addiction treatment program, eating disorder program or drug rehab should be medication compliance, adherence to a healthy eating plan and abstinence from drugs, alcohol or eating disorder behavior.
  • After completing a dual diagnosis program, individuals should be involved in psychiatric follow up. Aftercare in an eating disorder program or drug rehab and attendance at self help groups should be part of the relapse prevention plan.

People with dual diagnosis are often in denial. They may ignore their issues completely or not take their problems as seriously as they should. Often, family and friends must resort to having a professional intervention in order to get the person into a dual diagnosis treatment program so the recovery process can begin.

Aftercare Plan

An customized aftercare plan is an essential part of a drug addiction / eating disorder treatment program. An aftercare program helps patients maintain their recovery by providing them with coping skills they can use to avoid relapse.

Finding the right drug addiction and eating disorder treatment program can be a challenge. You need to take your time, compare your options and do your research beforehand. For expert help, you need to call an dual diagnosis helpline where professionals are standing by round the clock and can guide you in the right direction.

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