1. What does Dual Diagnosis mean?
The co-existence of a psychiatric illness along with substance abuse is referred to as dual diagnosis. Often people self-medicate with alcohol and drugs to deal with symptoms of an untreated or undertreated psychiatric illness such as depression or anxiety. Drugs and alcohol provide temporary relief but they usually make the problem worse while not addressing the underlying causes.
2. What’s the difference between substance addiction and substance abuse?
Addiction usually refers to a physical dependence on a substance i.e. withdrawal symptoms if an individual abruptly stops whatever they were using. Abuse usually refers to chronic use of a substance for a purpose other than recreation including for untreated psychiatric illness, untreated trauma, chronic environmental stress and pain management.
3. What are common signs of substance abuse?
The neglect of primary responsibilities, such as school, work, parenting. Financial and legal consequences where they did not previously exist including a DUI, a possession charge, theft to support a habit and/or domestic violence while under the influence. Relationships especially close ones become strained and an individual begins to isolate.
4. Can you be addicted to things other than substances?
Yes, addictive behaviors can take many forms all characterized by the underlying habitual and compulsive nature of the behavior which can include work, exercise, social media, gambling, shopping and video games. Substance addiction is usually the most acute in terms of the damage it causes.
5. What if someone doesn’t want to stop using substances?
Often there is significant ambivalence around changing behaviors related to their substance use. Initially the work of the dual diagnosis groups involve helping patients work through their ambivalence with activities such as exploring the pro’s and con’s. Substances are often the patient’s primary coping mechanism that aids in reducing emotional pain and helping them connect with others. In order for someone to voluntarily give up substances they have to be replaced with something long term and sustainable.
What is the Intersect Program?
Dominion Hospital’s Co-Occurring Substance Use Program (Intersect) is a treatment track for individuals who have been identified as having both a mental health diagnosis along with regular use of alcohol and/or drugs. For someone with dual diagnosis both conditions must be identified and addressed in order for treatment to be effective. The goal of the program is to treat the individual as a whole, addressing both symptoms of substance use and behavioral health. We believe in enhancing an individual’s capacity for positive change by creating an environment of acceptance where issues related to the use of substances can be explored and change facilitated in a supportive and encouraging space.