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Essential Tips for Managing a Dual Diagnosis

Written byDesiree Smith

Co-occurring disorders or dual diagnoses are used to describe people who struggle with drug misuse and mental health conditions like depression, anxiety, etc. It's never easy to deal with alcoholism, substance misuse, or drug addiction, and it's even harder when you're dealing with mental health problems at the same time. While treating only one diagnosis may seem like a step in the right direction, it's usually insufficient. Instead, you should be focusing on both of these things at the same time. Managing a dual diagnosis takes a lot of effort, energy, and time, but it's vital to those wishing to get better.

Get a Solid Diagnosis

The first step in receiving addiction treatment is receiving a diagnosis. To obtain a dual diagnosis, you must meet certain diagnostic criteria. For example, to get a dual diagnosis of depression and addiction, you must have a history of drug use directly affecting your job, family, relationships, etc. At the same time, you have to pose a threat to yourself or others.

Getting a solid diagnosis is a significant first step because it allows you to learn more about yourself, your issues, and their root causes. The more information they have about the co-occurring condition, the better equipped they are to develop an effective treatment strategy for you. If you are unsure where to start, seek advice from your medical practitioner or the local health agency.

Find the Right Treatment Plan

Not all drug rehab programs are the same, particularly for dual-diagnosis patients. For managing a dual diagnosis, you need a comprehensive approach. That's why finding a secure environment with a comprehensive therapy plan that can handle all of your problems is crucial. A top-notch treatment program will make you feel at ease managing addiction alongside your anxiety, ADHD, depression, OCD, PTSD, etc. By finding a program that treats both your root problem and your addiction, you'll be able to get faster and more long-term results compared to the usual treatments that only focus on the addiction.

If you've realized and need help, you can start your road to recovery as soon as possible by enrolling in a medical detox program. It's the first big step towards getting your life back.

Build a Support Team

First and foremost, it's crucial to understand that managing a dual diagnosis isn't something you should do alone. When you start therapy and rehab, you will find managing your everyday life, thoughts, feelings, and desires challenging. Because of this, you'll need people nearby who can support you or just be there for you so that you don't make a costly mistake. Create a support group of all your loved ones who only have your best interest at heart. Keep their contact details close at hand so you can get in touch with them whenever you need them.

If your friends and family aren't always there for you, or you feel you can't open up to them because of the stigma, consider joining a support group of like-minded individuals. That will help you understand you're not alone in what you're going through and help you keep going.

Take Care of Your Physical Health

In addiction recovery, strongly emphasizing physical well-being can help you manage anxiety and other mental health issues. Your body can access the hormones it needs to cope with stress and maintain equilibrium when you eat nutrient-rich meals, remain hydrated, get enough sleep, and exercise frequently.

However, this isn't so easy after years of addiction and substance misuse. These fundamental principles of self-care might need to be learned again. So, pay closer attention to your healthy habits when experiencing incredibly high levels of anxiety or depression. You can endure hard times by going through the motions without letting your abstinence suffer.

Find a Healthy, Creative Way to Express Your Thoughts and Emotions

Your feelings and emotions can sometimes be too much to handle if you have both an addiction and a mental health condition. Suppose you don't find a better way to deal with these overpowering emotions and thoughts. In that case, you might relapse into destructive behaviors that will hinder your rehabilitation or even turn to drug abuse. Finding an artistic release can help you avoid that.

If you're struggling with mental illness and addiction simultaneously, you may benefit from finding a new creative outlet. For example, consider learning new crafts. Start writing a journal or short stories. Learn to play a new instrument or spend your days painting. Doing creative things like that will stimulate your brain and keep your mind occupied.

Don't Expect Immediate Results

Recovery is not a simple, straightforward process. The journey has bends, there are barriers, and there are hills. Some days will be a lot harder than others. Remember that you can always get through these challenging and trying days.

Try to focus on the present and get through it. Take it one day at a time, or even one minute. If you do this, you won't be so tempted to go back.

However, relapses and slip-ups can happen. And getting better is not about being flawless. It's about the end goal: recovery. So, if you fail, don't get too caught up in it. Instead, work on returning to where you previously were in your journey.

Final Thoughts

Managing a dual diagnosis is very hard. It can be a tough challenge, especially for those without a proper support system and positive coping strategies. In any case, getting help for your dual diagnosis is paramount. Personalized treatment is your best option for treating your addiction and its root cause: your mental health issues. You can progress significantly and improve much faster by tackling both things simultaneously.

Looking for help? Check out these resources.

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