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June 27, 2018
Mental Health Interventions and Finding Dual Diagnosis Treatment Programs
Mental Health

Mental Health Interventions and Finding Dual Diagnosis Treatment Programs

Mental illness and substance abuse are two of the biggest problems facing Americans today. Still, there are important aspects of both of these health dilemmas that go woefully underreported.

This is surprising considering that nearly 40 percent of individuals struggling with a substance use disorder have a mental health problem at the same time, a condition known as “co-occurring disorders.” The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration estimates that 20.2 million adults in this country struggle with drug abuse. Just under 8 million of these individuals are suffering from a co-occurring mental health problem, too.

Can people who are dealing with a mental health problem lead a normal life? Is it possible to get a loved one with mental health issues into treatment before their drug habit turns into a full-blown addiction? The answer to both of these questions is, “Yes!”

The first step toward a solution is through intervention, which can be even more challenging when a loved one’s recovery is being stunted by their other mental health symptoms. This article explores how to help people with co-occurring mental health problems, and how an intervention is the first step.

Signs & Symptoms

Common Mental Health Disorders and Symptoms

Mental health disorders affect millions of Americans each year. Unfortunately, stigma surrounding mental health problems discourages people from talking about them or seeking treatment. This prevents a person’s ability to learn more about these conditions, and limits their ability seek help from a medical professional when the time is right.

Learning more about these conditions, however, improves a person’s ability to recognize their own need for professional help. The following is a short summary of the most common mental health disorders that have been known to increase a person’s risk for abusing drugs:

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Those with post-traumatic stress disorder are plagued by vivid memories of a traumatic event that hinder their ability to live a normal life. Scenarios that result in PTSD include:

  • Extreme disaster situations
  • Victim of a violent attack
  • Service in armed forces
  • Incarceration
  • Victim of abuse, especially during childhood

PTSD patients are at higher risk of abusing alcohol and other drugs to help block out unpleasant memories.


Depression is among the most common mental health problems in the country. As the condition progressions into clinical depression, the patient can experience two or more weeks of:

  • Intense hopelessness
  • Low sense of self-worth
  • Hindered mobility
  • Limited motivation

Some attempt to alleviate these symptoms with substances like alcohol, but in most cases, this approach actually worsens these symptoms.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

This mental health disorder is characterized by frequent, nagging and powerful feelings of anxiety and dread. It may be related to work, extreme life changes or the result of yet another mental health issue, like a social anxiety disorder. It’s not uncommon for anxiety patients to abuse alcohol, marijuana and prescription drugs if they believe it will limit their symptoms.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Bipolar Disorder

 This mood disorder is characterized by shifts between two ends of the emotional spectrum, from depression to mania and back again. This high level of emotional turmoil makes it very difficult for individuals to live a normal life, especially without treatment. As in the case with depression, bipolar patients use drugs to mute their depression or calm their mania. However, this approach can make both types of episodes more severe.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Uncontrollable habits and urges are a major component of this disorder. Patients dealing with OCD may abuse drugs to help them try to fight off their urges, but they are just as likely to develop new compulsions around drug abuse. In cases like these, treating both problems becomes much more difficult.

Drug Problems Associated with Mental Health Issues

The wide range of substance abuse problems and lack of research makes it difficult to say which drugs are most likely to be abused by someone with any specific mental health problem. However, we can draw a connection between the substances that are most widely abused and those most readily available.

The following list of prescription drugs and illegal substances are most commonly associated with a co-occurring mental health disorder:

  • Alcohol
  • Cocaine
  • Valium
  • Ritalin
  • Oxycodone
  • Hydrocodone
  • Methamphetamine
  • Marijuana
  • Ativan
  • Klonopin
  • Hallucinogens
  • Heroin
  • Xanax
  • Fentanyl
  • Morphine
  • Be Prepared

    Preparing for Mental Health Interventions

    Loved ones dealing with mental health problems like a mood disorder or substance abuse rarely seek out treatment on their own, at least not early on. In fact, many are resistant to the idea of treatment and will do everything in their power to avoid getting help. That’s why it often takes a professionally guided intervention to get a loved one treatment for their disorder.

    The intervention process starts with reaching out to a professional. Staging an intervention without properly preparing for or learning about the dynamics of an intervention can lead to a botched attempt. Repeated attempts lead to an individual raising his or her guard and becoming even more resistant to the idea of treatment. That’s why it’s so important to get it right the first time.

    The most prominent benefits of the intervention process include:

    • Getting the family on the same page about how to deal with mental health challenges
    • Guiding a loved one toward treatment while acknowledging their struggle
    • Putting an end to codependent relationships and enabling behaviors
    • Selecting treatment programs early on so the love done can start recovery immediately

    Addressing Both Issues with Dual Diagnosis Treatment

    Needing an intervention does not indicate that a loved one’s mental health problems are especially heinous. In fact, the longer an individual abuses drugs or suffers from an untreated mental disorder, the more likely he or she will need an intervention help to start down the right path.

    Don’t hesitate to get in touch with an intervention specialist if you feel like your family needs backup with dealing with a mental health problem. You can reach the experienced professionals at Intervention Helpline by contacting us directly.

    Mike Loverde

    Mike Loverde is a Certified Intervention Professional with more than 10 years of experience, and he is the founder and president of Intervention Helpline. He believes in taking a family-first approach to every intervention, and he created Intervention Helpline with the primary purpose of saving each family’s loved one before it is too late.

    Furthermore, he is the primary writer for the Intervention Helpline Blog. He is always eager to share his insight and expertise on interventions, addiction treatment programs, rehab insurance coverage, relapse prevention and many other related topics.

    Read the latest blog articles from the desk of Mike Loverde here, and don’t hesitate to contact if you have any questions or need intervention help now.

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