National Mental Health Month

How Should We Treat Mental Health And Addiction?

The good news this National Mental Health Month: Drug and alcohol rehab centers, medical professionals and psychological teams are getting more adept at identifying and treating patients with mental health and substance abuse issues.

Two girls hug while celebrating National Mental Health MonthWhen we think about cancer, heart disease, or diabetes, we don’t wait years to treat them. We start before Stage 4—we begin with prevention. When people are in the first stage of those diseases and are beginning to show signs of symptoms like a persistent cough, high blood pressure, or high blood sugar, we try immediately to reverse these symptoms. We don’t ignore them. In fact, we develop a plan of action to reverse and sometimes stop the progression of the disease.

So why aren’t we doing the same for individuals who are dealing with potentially serious mental illness or drug addiction?

Understanding the Roots of Mental Health Treatment

There was a time, not so long ago when mental health treatment included shame-based therapies, electric shock therapy, Morphine. LSD and frontal lobotomies. In the early 1920’s,15 states passed a law for the sterilization of alcoholics thanks to the theory that alcoholism, along with other medical disorders and self-destructive behaviors were purely genetic conditions, one that got stronger with every generation.

As baffling as the drink and drug habit was, the cure was crazier. And still to this day, the medical community, mental health counselors and frustrated spouses are all trying to unravel the psyche of the person who just will not stop abusing drugs and alcohol. Why can’t they see they’re carrying on at their own peril? Not to mention dragging down broken-hearted family members, friends and just about everyone else in their immediate proximity?

No matter how difficult it is to understand, addicts more than likely have no idea themselves why they can’t stop. This is what addiction science is attempting to understand. It’s also why National Mental Health Month is so important.

What Is a Dual Diagnosis?

Dual diagnosis, or co-occurring disorders refers to a mental illness coupled with substance abuse. Doctors often misdiagnose depression, anxiety, schizophrenia and other more or less grave or complicated disorders in patients with drug addiction issues when the addiction, in fact, may have been the panacea to a pre-existing mental illness. When only one side of the problem manifests itself as the dominant issue, it’s easy to miss what lies beneath.

Underlying psychological or psychiatric conditions can mimic the destructive path of addiction. This can make it harder to recognize and properly treat the entire picture. The laundry list of challenges that people with co-occurring disorders face includes mental and emotional instability, chronic relapse, rehabilitation centers, hospitalizations, homelessness, HIV and hepatitis infections.

Some treatment philosophies are rooted in the idea that many people essentially abuse alcohol or drugs to self-medicate often severe conditions that may or may not have been diagnosed.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment at ARC

The Authentic Recovery Center is a California addiction treatment center specializing in dual diagnosis. They understand there are many contributing factors to substance abuse. As such, they offer each client personalized attention so they can receive the benefit of the most advanced and comprehensive clinical techniques available to successfully overcome their addiction to drugs and alcohol.

They are fundamentally different in this regard. Many people that enroll with ARC have been to multiple treatment centers or have tried to stop drinking and using on their own. In many circumstances, the primary reason for a lack of sustainable success with recovery is simply because there are core psychological or psychiatric issues that have not been addressed and properly treated. In order for addiction treatment to be effective, the core issues that culminate in substance abuse have to be addressed during the initial stages of treatment. This must also persist throughout all phases of recovery.

How Can You Help Support National Mental Health Month?

This May is National Mental Health Month; Authentic Recovery Center is raising awareness of the important role mental health plays in our lives and encouraging members of the community to learn more about their own mental health and to take action immediately if they are experiencing symptoms of a mental illness.

Mental illnesses and drug addiction/alcoholism are not only common, they are treatable. There is a wide variety of treatment options for mental illnesses ranging from talk therapy to medication to peer support. It may take some time for a person to find the right combination of treatments that works best for them. But when they do, the results can be truly amazing and life-changing. ARC wants to help people learn what they can do to know the signs of mental illness. In this way, they can protect their own mental health.

Addiction is no longer being viewed as a moral problem, or the result of a lack of willpower. Countless elements acquired over a lifetime contribute to the complicated profile of the person suffering. More sophisticated drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs address the underlying causes of substance abuse. As a result, they treat the core mental health issues along with the addiction.

We strongly encourage everybody to research more and support in any way you see fit! Two of the causes we support this National Mental Health Month are NAMI and Mental Health America. To learn more about mental wellness, contact Authentic Recovery Center at 866-256-0051.