Understanding the Interplay between Substance Use and Behavioral Health

Category: Blog

Published: October 22, 2018 by Eric Klinger

Dual Diagnosis: Understanding the Interplay between Substance Use and Behavioral Health

With the onset of major behavioral health issues such as bipolar or schizoaffective disorders, people are often not fully aware of what is happening to them, or if they are, they may lack access to effective treatment options. As a result, many people use drugs or alcohol as a way to “treat” these disorders. The results can be catastrophic. Methamphetamine and opioids are obviously not effective treatments for these issues, and the risk of addiction is extremely high.

Unison Health recognizes that many individuals struggling with addiction have reached this point because they are trying to self-medicate a behavioral health issue brought on by an emotional trauma or a chemical imbalance in their brains. By establishing a dual diagnosis aimed at treating both halves of the issue, our team of licensed professionals can develop a regimen designed to address both the substance abuse and the underlying problems that can often lead to relapse.

Unison Health Looks at Both Substance Use Disorders and Behavioral Health Concerns

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), nearly eight million people in the United States are experiencing co-occurring disorders, or dual diagnoses, of mental disorders and substance use disorders. In addition, many people may get help for only one of the disorders, leaving the other disorder more or less untreated.

For example, a person struggling with an opioid addiction may undergo detox and rehab, and then move into recovery housing, without seeking out the therapy and/or medication-based options that can help them cope better and avoid returning to old behaviors. As part of our continuum of care, Unison Health provides a thorough diagnostic screening to each individual who comes in. In doing so, we can determine the extent to which behavioral health issues are affecting substance abuse. In addition, our focus on primary enables us to look at medical factors that may be contributing to a client’s addiction, such as chronic pain, and which may be the result of that addiction.

Alcohol and Substance Use and Depression: Understand the Risks

The tendency toward substance abuse extends beyond individuals living with a severe and persistent mental illness (SPMI); it can also affect people coping with mild to moderate depression. For many people, alcohol can be a way to temporarily alleviate depression, as its disinhibiting effects can cause a person to feel better, albeit briefly. Because alcohol is a physical depressant — meaning it can make a person feel tired and lethargic — its impact after prolonged use can actually make a person feel more depressed.

As we work with individuals who come to us for help with either behavioral health disorders or substance abuse concerns, we can offer in-depth diagnostic testing to determine the extent to which the other issue is playing a role. Is a person’s depression impeding his or her ability to stop using? Is drinking or other substance use standing in the way of enabling a person to actively engaging with therapy? Is a patient at risk for negative interactions between alcohol and their medication? These are questions the team at Unison Health asks throughout the process, and this in turn enables us to provide the most effective care for each individual.

If you’re ready to tackle an addiction — and get real help for the underlying issues that drove you to use in the first place — get in touch with Unison Health today. Together we can help you make your way to a happier, healthier lifestyle. Call 419-214-HOPE to learn more.