The co-occurrence of a mental problem and a substance use disorder (SUD) is termed as dual diagnosis or co-occurring disorders. The diagnosis and management of these disorders can often get challenging for physicians because of overlapping symptoms. And when the diagnosis is established, the treatment might also take a longer time as it involves management of both an addiction as well as the mental illness. However, the treatment can be hastened if the loved ones get involved with the patient and offer unrelenting support.
Here are some of the strategies that can help a caretaker or a loved one support the patient grappling with co-occurring disorders:
Unlearning and learning
Mental illnesses and SUDs are associated with a lot of stigma and discrimination in the society. So, the most important step for a loved one is to purge these obnoxious thoughts from the mind and instead, read about various aspects of these disorders, such as the symptoms, the available treatment options, prognosis, the frequency of relapse, coping mechanisms, etc.
Expressing concern through small gestures
People struggling with co-occurring disorders might be fearful of being judged and ridiculed. Therefore, a loved one should try to spend time with the patient, as much as possible and must engage him or her in conversations by giving assurance that these fears are unfounded and recovery is achievable. Casually helping the patient in rearranging the clothes, sending them heartwarming and encouraging quotes every now and then, cooking some of their favorite foods, etc. can instill a lot of faith in a patient because when one feels loved, he or she feels empowered.
Never getting into judging
An individual struggling with a mental problem or a SUD might have started drugs with the hope of navigating the tough times smoothly. Therefore, there must be some trauma or some life-altering episode, etc., in the past that could have possibly been a factor behind the onset of mental illness and addiction. Therefore, a loved one must try having a heart-to-heart conversation with the patient in an attempt to understand the underlying problem. This might help a patient come clean about his/her life’s challenges and traumas. This sharing might help a patient feel unburdened. On the other hand, if the loved one gets into reprimanding and criticizing the patient, it can get destructive and might lead to a downward spiral.
Convincing the patient for professional support
No matter how much time and effort a loved one invests on a person struggling with co-occurring disorders, the chance of a relapse is fairly high and when a relapse occurs, it is highly unlikely that a loved one would be competent enough to reverse it. This might lead to grave consequences. Therefore, a loved one must try to convince the patient that he/she is not alone and millions of people struggle with this disorder (one might even share some statistics for substantiation) and that one can recover completely, reclaiming health, will power and sanity.
Road to recovery
Along with the understanding of the loved ones, a person struggling with co-occurring disorders also needs a professionally integrated approach to treatment that should attend to both the addiction as well as the mental illness.
If you or someone you know is suffering from co-occurring disorders, it is imperative to look for dual diagnosis treatment centers. One can visit the California Dual Diagnosis Helpline to know more about various treatment options. You can call us at our 24/7 helpline number 855-980-1736 to get information about state-of-the-art rehabs in California or join our mental health executive over an online chat session to know about the best dual diagnosis treatment centers in California.