Co-occurring mental disorders imply co-existence of at least one substance use disorder (alcohol or drug abuse) and one mental illness (like mood disorders). A person suffering from poor mental health can self-medicate through drugs or alcohol, which can worsen the mental health condition. A patient suffering from major depression may feel lively after consumption of alcohol or in case of an anxiety attack, a dose of his or her preferred drug may calm the nerves.
As per the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), dual diagnosis “can range from someone developing mild depression because of binge drinking, to someone’s symptoms of bipolar disorder becoming more severe when that person abuses heroin during periods of mania.”
Such interlinked disorders are difficult to identify and treat as therapists and doctors need to address symptoms of both the disorders at the same time while ensuring that the withdrawal symptoms are controlled. Although the treatment cannot be the same for everyone who suffers from dual disorders, a new research has shown that contingency management intervention can be an effective way of addressing both the problems.
Reward systems promote abstinence from alcohol and adherence to treatment
The study done by researchers from the Washington State University and published in the American Journal of Psychiatry on Jan. 31, 2017, examined the ethyl glucuronide (EtG) urine samples of 79 participants with alcohol dependence and serious mental illness during 12 weeks of contingency management and three months of follow-up. Under the contingency intervention module, participants were rewarded gift cards for regular attendance in outpatient treatment and were also entitled to a prize draw thrice a week.
The researchers found that contingency management receivers had a likelihood of EtG-negative urine tests by almost three times than the control group and they even abstained from alcohol for almost two weeks. There were lesser chances of heavy drinking episodes among such beneficiaries. Interestingly, the abstinence from alcohol continued during the follow-up period.
The contingency management approach is one that utilizes positive reinforcement techniques by rewarding users who are undergoing treatment and encouraging them to stick to it. Regular visits to the treatment center can boost recovery of both the disorders. In fact, it is a good way of reinforcing progress towards treatment and discourage criminal behavior. It can bring a long-term positive change in the society, reduce discrimination against people with mental illness or substance use disorders and reduce cases of incarceration. However, the recovery process entirely depends on the willingness of the individual to seek treatment as no matter how well proven a treatment technique is, without the positive participation of the individual, the chances of success are always minimal.
Recovery road map
Treatment for dual disorders include therapies, support groups, medication, rehabs and detoxification programs under the guidance of trained medical staff. The study, however, shows that an EtG-based contingency management intervention can be extremely useful in treating persons with alcohol use disorders who may be suffering from a mental illness such as depression. The researchers believe that it is particularly effective in community set-ups addressing large population.
If you see symptoms of a co-occurring disorder in any of your loved ones, it is better to seek professional help. The California Dual Diagnosis Helpline offers treatment options that are specially designed to treat co-occurring disorders by providing access to centers that are equipped with state-of-the-art intervention plans administered by the best professionals in the field. You can call at our 24/7 helpline number (855) 980-1736 to seek options in dual diagnosis in California. You can also chat with our representatives to know more about dual diagnosis rehab in California.