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Dual Diagnosis: Maine Considers Mental Health Along With Addiction

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dual diagnosis addiction treatment The state of Maine is currently leading the nation in prescription opioid addiction per capita. While this stat is alarming, one doctor says there’s much more to consider than the addictions alone.

Dual Diagnosis

Dr. Robert Blaik is a board certified psychiatrist in Maine with more than 40 years of medical practice. During his tenure he estimates that he’s treated some 20,000 addicted patients. In a piece he wrote for the Portland Press Herald, he explains that in his experience, there is nearly always an underlying condition.

“In almost every case of addiction I have seen, regardless of the substance, I have found pre-existing and undiagnosed conditions such as depression, anxiety or bipolar disorder,” says Dr. Blaik. “Usually, it’s these conditions that brought on the addictive behavior in the first place.”

Co-occurring conditions

As Maine (and states like it around the country) struggles to deal with the medical and financial burden of addiction treatment, Dr. Blaik says they’re missing the mark. The primary problem is that addicts are typically treated for their addictions alone. They’re offered detoxification programs, self-help regimens and group therapies – which, to be fair, have all helped millions of people find recovery – but the addicts are not always evaluated for mental health.

In fact, in his article, Dr. Blaik cites a 2012 report by National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, in which it’s reported that some 51.8% of programs don’t include treatment or even assessment options for co-occurring mental health disorders.

So why is this such a problem?

The biggest issue is that many people suffering from depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder and other mental health problems turn to drugs and alcohol to self-medicate. Not only is it a vicious cycle, but often the mental health problems are where the addiction begins. Without treating the underlying problem of mental health alongside treatment of the addiction itself, it is nearly impossible to establish lasting recovery.

What can be done?

The best solution for treating drug addiction or alcoholism that coincides with a mental health disorder or disease is to treat both conditions with equal emphasis.

As Dr. Blaik puts it, “It is as much a mistake to treat the addictions and ignore the underlying disorders as it would be to treat the underlying disorders and ignore the addictions.”

Dual diagnosis help at The Watershed

The Watershed is a leading facility not only for drug and alcohol rehabilitation, but also for dual diagnosis treatment that addresses both addiction and mental health. This two-fold approach serves to expand the support network and offer treatment options that help the whole person, as opposed to addressing just part of the problem.

If you’re suffering the effects of mental health problems and addiction, or if you’re looking for professional services for a loved one, The Watershed’s dual diagnosis program can help. Get in touch with us any time, we’re here 24/7: 1-800-861-1768.

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