Programs for Behavioral Problems and Drug Addiction

Dual Diagnosis, or the condition of having a co-occurring mental illness and substance abuse diagnosis, is extremely common in the United States today. In fact, 53 percent of individuals with a drug addiction also have a diagnosed mental illness. Having two disorders makes recovery a greater challenge than having either one individually. Specialized Dual Diagnosis treatment is vital to finding lasting sobriety, and unfortunately nearly 90 percent of people with a Dual Diagnosis do not get simultaneous treatment for both issues

Behavioral Problems Associated with Dual Diagnosis

Possible Issues

Although a Dual Diagnosis may involve any mental illness and any type of substance abuse, there are a few behavioral problems that are frequently seen simultaneously in patients with a drug addiction. These behavioral problems include:

  • Eating Disorders: Nearly 50 percent of people battling an eating disorder are simultaneously dealing with substance abuse.
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD): The symptoms of OCD are due to a high level of anxiety within an individual. In order to relieve these anxieties, many people with OCD turn to drugs as a form of self-medication.
  • Hoarding: This is a relatively new diagnosis without a ton of research. A correlation between hoarding and drug addiction has been observed, but there is not enough data as of yet to produce exact numbers.
  • Sex Addiction: Sex and drug addictions are both dysfunctional behaviors used to alter someone’s mood.
  • Gambling Addiction: There are similar issues causing someone to engage in problem gambling and drug abuse. Gambling addiction, however, is much easier to hide until the individual is in deep financial trouble.

Common Characteristics of Behavior Problems and Addiction

  • Affects physical, emotional, mental and financial well-being
  • The drug or behavior slowly starts to consume the majority of daily thoughts and activities
  • Individuals suffer from low self-esteem
  • Causes decreased performance at school or work
  • Drug or behavior is used as a coping mechanism for emotional stresses
  • Intense compulsions and/or cravings to continue behavior or use drug
  • Impacts brain chemistry – usually affecting the available amount of neurotransmitters responsible for driving positive feelings
  • Desire to increase the amount of drug or time involved in the behavior to get same effects
  • Incapable of quitting despite negative consequences in many areas of life
  • Causes decreased performance at school or work

Behavioral Issues that Can Lead to Drug Addiction

ADD and Substance Abuse+

Recent studies suggest that individuals diagnosed with attention deficit disorder (ADD) are twice as likely to suffer from some form of substance abuse during their lifetime than people without the disorder. Starting in the teen years, those with ADD start experimenting with alcohol and marijuana at higher rates than the general adolescent population. For those with ADD, this higher tendency towards substance abuse persists through all ages and phases of life. In fact, the diagnosis of ADD correlates with younger onset of substance abuse, lengthier intervals of active use and less chance of long-term recovery.

Why Is ADD Linked with Substance Abuse?

There are several traits common among individuals with ADD that put them at a higher risk to suffer from substance abuse in addition to the ADD symptoms they struggle with daily. Each of the following traits creates a scenario where substance abuse has a high likelihood of arising as a maladaptive coping mechanism:

  • Self-Medication: Oftentimes prescription medications are not enough to control the symptoms of ADD or the individual does not follow dosage recommendations. In these cases, the appeal of using drugs or alcohol to manage symptoms can be overwhelming.
  • Impulsivity: Risky behavior is a symptom of ADD and also of individuals who abuse drugs and alcohol.
  • Genetics: Substance abuse and ADD run in families. If you are the child of a parent with a drug or alcohol addiction, you are more likely to have one as well, due to environmental factors as well as inherited tendencies.
  • Social Skills Issues: People who don’t easily relate well with others are more likely to use drugs or alcohol to relax in social situations. Many people with this problem feel people only like them when they are under the influence, which can lead to substance abuse as a way to get and maintain friendships.
  • Associates with Underachievers: Individuals without goals are more likely to abuse drugs because they are not as afraid of the effects on either their school or career performance.

Why Is Dual Diagnosis Treatment Necessary?

As a result of the increased likelihood of ADD co-occurring with substance abuse, specialized Dual Diagnosis treatment is necessary for effective rehabilitation. Dual Diagnosis rehab is for individuals who have both a diagnosed mental illness and a substance abuse problem. The needs of people with both issues are more complicated than someone with just drug addiction alone. Dual Diagnosis treatment programs are equipped to handle the additional requirements for individuals with multiple diagnoses. This extra care therefore provides a greater chance of helping someone successfully recover.

Anger Management and Alcoholism+

Alcoholism is the third-leading cause of preventable death in the country today. With nearly one-tenth of the population in the past year either abusing or dependent on alcohol, it is a problem that touches the lives of a significant portion of Americans. All too often, alcoholism goes hand-in-hand with anger management issues.

It is not clear which develops first – anger issues or alcoholism. Feelings of anger not managed properly can be one of the root causes for problem drinking. However, on the flip side, issues separate from anger can fuel someone’s alcoholism, but the result from excess drinking is still uncontrolled anger or rage. It can be unclear the exact evolution of both behaviors, but what is clear is that for many people both alcoholism and anger management issues are causing severe problems in many areas of their lives.

Causes of Links Between Alcoholism and Anger Management Issues

Scientific studies have shown that both alcohol and anger have identical consequences in the brain, causing an acute lack of impulse control. As anger increases, it causes an alteration in brain chemistry that impairs someone’s ability to consider their options and control their impulses. Similarly, as the amount of alcohol increases, rational thought is inhibited. As anger recedes or as alcohol leaves the body, coherent thought processes are restored. This is why giving someone time to calm down and think when they are upset gives them such a different perspective on the problem. Once calm, they are actually able to find solutions that were not obvious when they were upset. Likewise, the morning after binging on alcohol, you may regret your actions while intoxicated because now you see the situations clearly. Both alcoholism and inappropriate displays of anger are dysfunctional coping mechanisms. Individuals may rely on heavy drinking or flying off the handle in order to deal with daily stresses. People use these maladaptive tools in an attempt to relax and gain control. However, in reality, anger issues and alcoholism cause an individual’s life to grow increasingly chaotic and stressful.

Why Is Dual Diagnosis Treatment Essential for a Mixture of Anger and Alcoholism?

Dual Diagnosis treatment is the most effective rehab option for people with both behavioral problems and addiction. In most cases, the behaviors caused by the addiction and the mental disorder are intertwined. You can’t completely fix one without addressing the other. The best approach is to treat both the alcoholism and anger management problems simultaneously. A Dual Diagnosis treatment program is experienced in this therapeutic method. They are staffed with psychiatrists, psychologists, medical professionals and a variety of alternative practitioners to treat all aspects of an individual’s physical, emotional, mental and spiritual needs.

Grief and Alcoholism+

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, more than 17.6 million people in America are struggling with an alcohol addiction. At the same time in the US, the number of individuals dealing with grief is too difficult to measure. The experience of grief comes not only from the death of a loved one, but is a possibility in the aftermath of any life-altering event such as:
  • Divorce
  • Job loss
  • Relocating
  • Loss of a close friend
  • Serious illness
  • Death of a pet
  • Break-up of an intimate relationship
  • Leaving home
  • New job

With so many potential causes of grief, it is safe to say almost everyone will experience it in some form in their lifetime – and with the millions of individuals in this country already abusing alcohol, it is easy to see how many people might use it as a coping mechanism for the pain of grief.

The Chemical Impact of a Dual Diagnosis of Grief and Alcoholism

Turning to alcohol in an attempt to soothe the deep ache of prolonged grief is a dangerous choice. Our brain has its own response to unprocessed grief and the excessive use of alcohol can alter this function, causing more emotional stress over time rather than the relief that is intended. When someone is experiencing a period of tremendous stress, such as what happens during grieving, the brain produces large amounts of the chemical cortisol into the body. Cortisol puts the entire body on alert. This heightened state causes many of the symptoms of grief, including loss of concentration, mood swings, insomnia, anxiety and crying. When an individual uses alcohol to eliminate these difficult emotions, it induces a false state of calm. Regrettably, when the alcohol wears off, the anxiety and stress return even more powerfully than before. This phenomenon is known as the rebound effect. This effect occurs because when artificial stress reduction, such as excess alcohol, is used, the brain stops producing its own stress-reducing hormones. Therefore, the more someone uses alcohol to manage their grief, the less capable their brain will be to handle painful emotions when sober, due to alterations in brain chemistry.

The Importance of Dual Diagnosis Treatment for Grief and Alcoholism

Unresolved grief and alcoholism are intertwined problems. In order to successfully recover from both issues, an individual should attend a Dual Diagnosis program. Learning healthy coping mechanisms in order to process the feelings of grief rather than just numbing them with alcohol is the primary goal of a Dual Diagnosis program. If an individual doesn’t attend a rehab that addresses both the grief and alcoholism simultaneously then they are at a much higher risk of future relapse.

Programs for Stress and Substance Abuse+

In our culture, stress is inevitable. However, the amount of stress in your life can easily get out of control in our fast-paced society and in a culture that tells everyone that they are supposed to have it all at all times. Stress comes from all arenas of life: school, work, children, spouses, friendships, finances, etc. As the pressure builds in your life, the choices you make in managing daily stressors can determine your future mental and physical health.If you begin using alcohol or drugs as a method of coping with stress in your life, your substance of choice will initially reinforce this behavior. For example, if you have had a difficult week and drink to excess on Friday and Saturday night to blow off steam, the depressant effects of alcohol will work in the short term to relax you. Or, on the other hand, if you start using cocaine or crystal meth for the euphoric effects, you will get exactly what you’re hoping for and temporarily forget all your troubles. In the short term, substance abuse is very effective in reducing physical and emotional stress. Unfortunately, over time, the negative impact of substance abuse causes far more stress than it originally alleviated and that brief release you initially experienced disappears.

Understanding the Link Between Stress and Substance Abuse in Dual Diagnosis

Stress is the number one reason for drug and alcohol abuse relapse. Scientific research is starting to illuminate the biological mechanisms that drive the unhealthy relationship between stress and substance abuse. One major physical cause is the hormone corticotropin releasing factor (CRF). The level of CRF rises in the brain as an individual’s amount of stress increases. Studies have shown that during withdrawal from drugs or alcohol, the CRF levels start to rise in the brain. The increased amount of CRF elicits strong unpleasant emotions in the individual with a substance abuse problem. These stressful feelings increase in intensity the longer an addict goes without their substance of choice. More often than not, this experience of stress drives an individual to use again, perpetuating the cycle of addiction.

Coping With Stress in Dual Diagnosis With Substance Abuse

People use a variety of dysfunctional coping strategies to deal with their daily stresses. The common thread between all of the following coping mechanisms are that they provide instant gratification for stress reduction, but in the long term actually increase the amount of stress in an individual’s life:

  • Excess drinking
  • Withdrawing from loved one
  • Lashing out in anger
  • Physical or emotional abuse
  • Taking illegal narcotics or prescription drugs to relax
  • Excessive sleeping
  • Procrastinating
  • Overeating or not eating enough
  • Smoking

Embarking on Dual Diagnosis Treatment for Stress and Substance Abuse

The most effective treatment for mental imbalance caused by poor stress management combined with substance abuse is a Dual Diagnosis treatment program. A Dual Diagnosis program will provide the additional psychiatric support needed to identify an individual’s true sources of stress. Since stress is the most significant predictor of future relapse, getting professional stress management treatment in addition to drug rehab is the best option to provide the skills for long-term sobriety. Contact us today and we can connect you with professional evidence-based Dual Diagnosis treatment programs. We can match you with top-rated programs around the US that will help put you on the path to recovery.

Successful Programs for Co-Occurring Disorders

A two-pronged approach such as Dual Diagnosis treatment is the only way to ensure the best chance of a long-term recovery. Contact us any time of day or night. We have trained counselors ready to connect you with a Dual Diagnosis treatment program to meet your individual needs. Don’t spend one more day fighting an uphill battle. Call us and let us help you find a mental health treatment center that can aid you in ending your struggle today.