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Dual Diagnosis for Mental Health & Chronic Relapse

What is Dual Diagnosis for Chronic Relapse?

Dual Diagnosis Treatment At Burning Tree Ranch

Dual diagnosis generally refers to the existence of multiple mental health conditions in an individual. Such a diagnosis may also include substance use disorder or a related chemical dependency.

For families witnessing a loved one grapple with both psychological affliction and addiction simultaneously, the situation can reasonably provoke immense distress. It’s hard to watch someone you care about live through a downward spiral, and it’s emotionally taxing to be close to the vortex created by an individual trapped in a cycle of relapse.

Properly treating dual diagnosis – mainly when substance use is involved – necessitates an integrative approach that comprehensively addresses the intricate interplay between mental illness and the substance abuse issue.

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At a Glance

How We Manage Dual Diagnosis at Burning Tree Ranch

Burning Tree is the Nation’s only authentic long-term treatment provider specializing in the treatment of chronic relapse. We address life and death matters as they relate to chronic addiction and mental health.

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Quick Identifiers

The Burning Tree Client

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Behavioral Traits

The Chronic Relapser

Burning Tree Families often describe these behaviors as perplexing and, at times, deeply frustrating. Yet, the overriding sentiment revolves around the pain they cause.

Long-Term Treatment at Burning Tree Ranch

Identifying & Understanding Dual Diagnosis

Receiving a dual diagnosis is fairly common, affecting an estimated 9.2 million adults in the United States each year. Also known as co-occurring disorders, dual diagnosis can involve any combination of mental health conditions like depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, PTSD, personality disorders, etc. along with alcohol, prescription drug, or illegal substance abuse and addiction.

Why Understanding Dual Diagnosis Matters in the Context of Chronic Relapse

For families, it’s crucial to recognize and understand how mental health disorders and substance abuse issues exist simultaneously. The existence of one condition tends to exacerbate another, creating a cyclical pattern that is incredibly difficult to break. Understanding this dynamic helps guide an integrative treatment approach targeting both issues in a coordinated effort rather than leaving one or the other unaddressed which impedes progress.

Discovery & Diagnosis Before Treatment

The initial discovery of a dual diagnosis is often challenging, as the combination of symptoms can be difficult to untangle. Mental health screening tools and comprehensive personal and family histories help identify co-occurring issues. Diagnosis also depends on ruling out any underlying medical conditions or separating independent mental health symptoms from substance-induced ones. A proper evaluation by qualified mental health and addiction professionals is essential for an accurate dual diagnosis assessment.

Why Short-Term Treatment Hasn't Worked

Our Integrative Approach to Treating Dual Diagnosis at Burning Tree Ranch

We believe it is critical to address addiction and co-occurring disorders concurrently during the same treatment episode. Our Texas-based chronic relapse facility includes a team of licensed professionals who specialize in recognizing and treating underlying mental health conditions for individuals struggling with chronic relapse. We address every diagnostic variable that may have prevented an earlier recovery opportunity.

Often, we discover a simple truth: previous treatment episodes lacked the necessary time, expertise, and ability to address the relationship between addiction and mental health meaningfully. As a result, relapse occurs.

Jesse Earwood, Executive Director
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We treat co-occuring disorders that have historically prevented our clients from maintaining permanent recovery in the past.

~ Jesse Earwood, Executive Director of Burning Tree Ranch
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Interactions Between Mental Illness and Substance Abuse

The cyclical nature of relapse with a dual diagnosis means the mental health issues and substance abuse reinforce each other through processes like self-medication and increased brain disruptions. This makes integrated treatment focusing on both components simultaneously crucial for recovery.

Commonly Abused Substances

In dual-diagnosis cases, some of the most frequently abused substances include alcohol, prescription medications, opioid painkillers, benzodiazepines, stimulants like cocaine and methamphetamine, and marijuana. Different mental health issues may be susceptible to the abuse of other substances based on their effects.

Self-Medication Hypothesis

The self-medication hypothesis suggests that individuals with mental illness may abuse substances as a way to cope with uncomfortable psychological symptoms. For example, depressants like alcohol to dull emotional pain or stimulants to overcome low motivation from depression.

Mental Illness Increasing Addiction Vulnerability

Specific mental health issues increase the biological and psychological vulnerability to developing substance use disorders. Conditions like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, ADHD, and conduct disorders are risk factors for addiction. Poor impulse control, emotion dysregulation, and maladaptive coping mechanisms play a role.

Substances Worsening Mental Health Symptoms

While substances may temporarily mask or numb symptoms, they ultimately end up worsening the underlying mental illness. Substance-induced psychosis, increased anxiety/depression, cognitive impairments, and disruption of adequate mental health treatments are everyday negative interactions.

Challenges for Families in Treating Dual Diagnosis

Receiving an Accurate Diagnosis

Obtaining an accurate dual diagnosis assessment can be difficult. The complex interplay between mental health symptoms and substance abuse effects often creates a confounding picture. Mental health professionals must work to distinguish substance-induced issues from those stemming from an underlying psychiatric condition. Comprehensive medical, psychological, and substance use histories are essential for an appropriate diagnosis. Even then, dual diagnosis may go undetected or be misdiagnosed. Any dual diagnosis related to substance use must be given or confirmed by a licensed mental health professional.

Finding a Reliable Facility for Integrated Treatment

Historically, mental health and addiction treatment services have operated in siloed settings with limited communication. This dated model poorly serves those with co-occurring disorders who require a unified treatment approach addressing both issues in a coordinated, multidisciplinary fashion. Truly integrated dual diagnosis programs providing combined psychological and medical management are still lacking in many regions.

Many programs and facilities that tout dual diagnosis treatment are unequipped, understaffed, or simply not designed to address the relationship between addiction and mental health in any meaningful, lasting way. Short-term solutions offer only reprieve for individuals where there is a sustained pattern of crisis and relapse.

The challenges lie in getting an accurate evaluation from professionals adept at untangling the complexities and locating and utilizing programs fully equipped to provide integrated, tailored dual diagnosis treatment matching the individual’s needs.

Overall, the nature of dual diagnosis prevents a “one-size-fits-all” solution. That’s why Burning Tree emphasizes an authentic long-term treatment approach that considers each individual’s unique circumstance and that of the entire family.

What Does Progress Look Like?

Recovery Outlook & Aftercare for Successful Treatment

Managing Dual Conditions Long-Term through Personal Accountability

Successful long-term management of co-occurring disorders hinges on individuals embracing personal responsibility for their recovery journey. While professional treatment provides foundational skills and support, sustainable progress is driven by the client’s daily commitment to wellness.

This involves owning one’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors – achievements and setbacks. Cultivating self-awareness to recognize stressors, monitor symptoms, and proactively employ coping strategies is crucial. When challenges arise, it’s essential to self-advocate and independently pursue solutions, whether that’s adjusting medications with a psychiatrist, processing emotions with a therapist, or utilizing relapse prevention techniques. Recovery is an ongoing, active process requiring personal accountability.

Relapse Prevention

Maintaining hard-won progress means immersing oneself in the daily disciplines of recovery. Regularly attending 12-step support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous provides peer encouragement and structure to stay on track.

Engaging with sponsors, peers, and fellow AA members who emphasize personal accountability helps prevent complacency and regression. Working in a recovery program, including the 12 steps, reinforces vital spiritual principles like honesty, open-mindedness, and willingness. Practicing holistic self-care, managing stress, and avoiding high-risk situations are essential preventative strategies. Vigilance and a daily re-commitment to recovery are imperative.

Improved Quality of Life

The ultimate goal of dual diagnosis treatment is not just the absence of substances and psychiatric symptoms but the presence of a fulfilling life.

Individuals in recovery can achieve financial independence through stable employment and money management skills. Emotional freedom comes from healing relationships, setting healthy boundaries, and practicing self-acceptance.

Making amends to loved ones, offering forgiveness, and rebuilding trust fosters meaningful connections. Finding purpose through service work, mentoring others, and contributing to society enhances self-esteem. Living with integrity, aligning one’s actions with their values, and being a positive role model are the hallmarks of long-term recovery. While setbacks may occur, each challenge is an opportunity for growth and resilience. With commitment and support, a rich, rewarding life in recovery is within reach.

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