What is Addiction?

According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM), “addiction is a chronic medical disease involving complex interactions among brain circuits, genetics, the environment, and an individual’s experiences.” People can be addicted to emotions, behaviors, and substances. Addiction becomes the controlling aspect of a person’s life when, despite consequences and harm to self and others, the person seeks to engage in addictive behavior. Addictive behavior can be experienced with gambling, viewing pornography, sex addiction, overeating, substance abuse, controlling others with anger and manipulation, shopping, etc. All these behaviors produce complex interactions in the brain’s circuits and lead to seeking more of the stimuli. There are many forms of addiction: overexercising, taking risks, etc.

What is Cross Addiction?

Cross addiction is considered a new term in treatment when referring to addictive behavior. It is also known as addiction transfer or addiction interaction disorder. Frequently, after treatment, a recovering addict will substitute one addiction for another. This process is not necessarily conscious, but it is common. Giving up substances may be replaced with engaging in online pornography, for example. Or, as stated above, exercising to an extreme. These substitutions are still considered in the realm of addictive behavior.

For example, a study of patients undergoing bariatric surgery found that 14-58% had a food addiction. Once the surgery was performed and the patient could no longer overindulge in food, 34.3% to 89.5% started using substances. The study also found that food addiction was replaced by internet addiction in many patients. Whatever the behavior, the dopamine release in the brain after a short period of time becomes normalized, and the body seeks more. Sometimes, a person may be sober and clean (no alcohol or drugs) for years before a new addiction appears. Many of the cross addictions that occur after a person is in recovery are indeed not to substances.

What is Dual Diagnosis?

The state of addiction throughout the U.S. has seen a rise in addicts using multiple drugs while suffering from mental health disorders. Dual diagnosis, different from cross addiction (when one addiction replaces another) is often referred to as having co-occurring substance use and psychiatric disorders. The mental health disorders can include but are not limited to depression, schizophrenia, posttraumatic stress disorder, and bi-polar disorder. The state of a dual diagnosed patient can be challenging to treat and difficult to understand. Research has demonstrated through the last decade or two that treating both conditions, substance abuse and mental health disorder, is necessary for the client’s benefit. Recovery from one without treating the other is a design for failure.

According to dualdiagnosis.org, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that 45 percent of Americans (17 million) suffer from dual diagnoses. “Those with a Dual Diagnosis are sometimes treated for only one of their ailments. According to estimates, 34% of people with co-occurring conditions undergo mental health care, 2% enroll in opioid recovery, and 12% receive the treatment they need for both disorders…only 16% of all substance abuse treatment facilities have specialized mental health treatment to provide adequate care to Dual Diagnosis patients.”

Treatment for Dual Diagnosis may be difficult as the addict may present symptoms of one mental health disorder caused by a drug or a combination of drugs. Drugs use can worsen the untreated mental health condition.

What is Comorbidity?

To date, healthcare workers are tasked with managing multiple coexisting conditions.

Comorbidity usually occurs with two or more disorders coincide and implies an interaction between conditions that can worsen the course of all disorders.

Comorbidity may be slightly more complex, including substance abuse, mental health disorders, and chronic or neurological conditions. Accurate diagnosis when entering a treatment facility is of the utmost importance in treating comorbidity and dual diagnosis disorders. Failure to accurately diagnose and treat dual diagnosis and comorbidity can doom the client to continued poor health and failure in treatment.

“A particularly active area of comorbidity research involves the search for genes that might predispose individuals to develop both addiction and other mental illnesses or to have a greater risk of a second disorder occurring after the first appears. It is estimated that 40–60 percent of an individual’s vulnerability to addiction is attributable to genetics; most of this vulnerability arises from complex interactions among multiple genes and from genetic interactions with environmental influences.”

Treatment for Dual Diagnosis and Comorbidity

It is always important to remember that moving through a licensed, medically staffed detox facility is the best foundation before getting treatment for substance abuse or multiple disorders. Detox is not, and never has been considered, drug or alcohol treatment. Believing so is a mistake many people make. They go through detox but do not go on to treatment and quickly relapse. The reason, detox is a process that rids the body of toxins, especially those in the brain accumulated from substance abuse. Detox must be medically supervised as some withdrawal from drugs can lead to mental health conditions and others create severe or life threatening bodily responses.

Once a person has gone through detox, it is considered best practice to move straight into treatment at a licensed, medically staffed facility. If a person has multiple disorders, the treatment facility chosen must be able to handle those disorders, including mental health disorders, and chronic or neurological disorders. Sadly, many facilities will state that they treat dual diagnosis and comorbidity when they do not. The key to quality treatment is the program’s ability to address individual problems through various therapies. With dual diagnosis, treatment must address substance abuse and mental health disorders. If there are other chronic diseases, those must be addressed as well.

Call today and speak with one of our staff. He/she/they can explain the treatment protocols in place for those suffering from dual diagnosis and comorbidity.