The term "dual diagnosis" is one that has seen extensive use in the addiction recovery field. The term refers to the co-occurrence of a mental disorder along with a substance abuse problem. The addicted person entering treatment is "diagnosed" with addiction and then additionally "diagnosed" with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorders, or a variety of personality disorders or other mental conditions.
Ten years ago, it had hardly been heard of although some scholarly publications as far back as 1989 mention it. But now, there's hardly a rehabilitation center in America that does not endorse the dual diagnosis. In Europe, it may be referred to as a "double diagnosis." The term "co-occurring disorder" is also used in some centers.
According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, the majority of drug addicts and more than a third of alcoholics also suffer from a secondary mental illness.
- Ref: NIH: Dual Diagnosis
- Ref: http://www.fultoncountyga.gov/symptoms-a-warning-signs-bh/dual-diagnosis-co-occurring-disorders-bh (Dual Diagnosis: Co-occurring Disorders)
There are a variety of treatments for these secondary diagnoses, but in many cases, they involve medication. The list of medications used in treatment of dual diagnosis is long. It includes:
- Antihistamines for anxiety and insomnia
- Antidepressants such as Wellbutrin Zoloft, Prozac or Sinequan.
- Beta-blockers such as Inderal for anxiety.
- Benzodiazepines such as Valium or Xanax for anxiety, insomnia, mania or panic attacks.
- Buspirone may be used for anxiety especially among the elderly.
- The hypertension drug clonidine may be used as an anti-anxiolytic (anti-anxiety drug).
- Anti-psychotics such as Mellaril, Clozaril or Haldol may be used to handle delusions or hallucinations or an inability to think clearly, or for "social adjustment."
- Anti-convulsants such as Tegretol may be used to prevent "flashbacks."
- Ref: AOD Treatment
Of course, some of these drugs are themselves addictive and others come with side effects that would call for further medication, creating a pharmaceutical cascade effect.
Some in the dual-diagnosis treatment business recognize that recovering addicts must complete detoxification before a determination of a co-existing mental disorder. And while some also state that substance abuse can cause these secondary mental problems, few practitioners outside the Narconon network understand that it is possible to deliver a holistic addiction recovery program that enables the vast majority of addicts to recover their mental stability as well as their sobriety.
This is what happens every day, in every Narconon drug recovery center around the world.
Using no drugs of any kind, the Narconon program specifies the exact nutritional support that replaces the nutrients that were obliterated by drug or alcohol abuse. In particular, B vitamins are burned up during drug and alcohol consumption and can be involved in the creation of depression and other mental phenomena.
A recovering addict enters the withdrawal phase that precedes the Narconon program and begins to take the specific nutritional supplementation recommended for that phase. The supplementation includes B vitamins, vitamin C, niacinamide and other complementary vitamins, and a calming calcium magnesium drink. Other supplements may be given for problems specific to an individual. These supplements are given on a regular schedule during the recovering addict's waking hours.
This nutrition begins to repair the ravages of an addictive lifestyle that usually includes neglect of one's basic needs such as sleep and nourishing foods. And since depression can be the product of nutritional deficiency, it can begin to lift the crushing depression that can accompany withdrawal to some drugs.
Gentle reorienting exercises help the recovering person realize that they have started a new phase in life, one of recovery, not of continued substance abuse, lies, self-destruction and possibly crime. Physical assists calm the recovering person's aches and spasms, making withdrawal a tolerable process for most people.
Before they get to withdrawal, addicts don't perceive their physical and mental misery because these sensations are kept away by the euphoria or stupor of the drug use. The Narconon system of withdrawal is a profound improvement over just letting these miseries hit the recovering addict, and also over further drugging to temporarily alleviate these symptoms.
By their chemical nature, the intoxicating ingredients in addictive drugs have a greater affinity for fats than they do substances like water. So when a person uses drugs or alcohol, these toxic elements tend to be attracted to fatty parts of the body where there is less circulation. Some residues from drug use, referred to as "metabolites," the substances left behind after a body has broken down the drug for elimination, are left in the fatty tissues while others are eliminated through urine, sweat or other fluids. These residues can be involved in the triggering of drug cravings, even years later. Or they can contribute to the foggy, unaware feeling many people have even after they have stopped using drugs for a while.
Using a similar nutritional protocol as the withdrawal phase of the Narconon program, the Narconon New Life Detoxification Program assists the body in thoroughly flushing out these toxins. In addition to the nutrients, moderate exercise and time in a low-heat sauna are utilized. By the end of this program, recovering addicts often state that they feel brighter and can think more clearly. Some state that they have lost their cravings for more drugs. This is another reason that Narconon programs don't need dual diagnosis labels or the prescription of drugs to handle mental conditions. When the cause of what someone might consider a mental condition is eliminated, a healthy state of mind results. Therefore, no pharmaceutical drugs are needed.
Addiction is certainly about physical recovery but it is also about emotional recovery. When a person has damaged or even destroyed part of his or her life due to addiction, it is actually a natural feeling to be anxious, depressed or upset about the acts that were committed. For this reason and others, the Narconon program always stresses the positive side of addiction recovery: that with the right life skills and the right path to recovery, a former addict can recover fully from addiction. He or she does not need to feel powerless over addiction. Rather he can regain control over his life, accepting responsibility for past, present and future actions, without further shame or regret.
Through counseling, through practical application of life skills for the restoration of personal integrity, through the relief of past misdeeds by addressing the harm done to others, Narconon graduates learn that they can recover emotional stability to take them into a drug-free future.
When the future looks bright and positive, there's no need for anti-anxiety drugs or sedatives. One just gets on with living a drug-free life.