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10 Things to Know About Dual Diagnosis in Sober Living

Understanding the complexities and essentials of treating dual diagnosis in sober living environments


Established Sobriety is Crucial

It is impossible to treat mental illness effectively unless the individual has been sober for at least 90 days. Established sobriety is necessary for effective diagnosis and treatment.


Transitional Living is Critical

Because established sobriety is necessary for effective diagnosis and treatment, transitional living is the most important time in the diagnosis and treatment process for individuals with dual diagnosis. Sober living and outpatient aftercare settings are usually where medication efficacy is tested, diagnosis is refined, and long-term strategies are implemented.


Diagnostic Complexity

Mental illness doesn’t always fit into a perfect diagnostic box. Every psychiatric diagnosis is essentially just a description of a cluster of symptoms that are often seen together. Unfortunately, diagnosing mental illness is not always straightforward and can take months and even years to clarify.


Marijuana and Psychosis

Marijuana is a huge trigger for psychosis. Stimulants, like cocaine and amphetamines, often get associated with psychosis, but marijuana is the leading cause of drug-induced psychosis. Marijuana is often the drug of choice for men who struggle with psychotic disorders, such as schizoaffective disorder or schizophrenia.


The 12 Steps and Mental Illness

The 12 steps do not treat mental illness. In fact, it can be very difficult to comprehend and internalize the principles of the 12 steps unless being properly treated for mental illness.


Longer Treatment Duration

It takes longer to help individuals with dual diagnosis. A long-term treatment setting is always preferable for those struggling with mental illness and addiction.


Medication Limitations

Medication does not treat all dual diagnoses. Some mental illnesses are more personality-based or trauma-based pathologies as opposed to mood or thought disorders. These can require creative and individualized psychotherapies on a long-term basis, including behavior modification, trauma treatment modalities, dialectical behavior therapy, and cognitive behavior therapy.


Long-Acting Injections

Long-acting injections can be a great alternative for individuals who are not compliant with daily medication protocols. New options become available all the time that have fewer side effects and are great alternatives for young adult men in early recovery.


Structured Environments

Individuals with dual diagnosis thrive in environments where there is structure, healthy sleep schedules, exercise, and positive routines.


Unique and Personal Situations

All psychiatric disorders are on a very subjective continuum and they don’t play out in exact or predictable patterns. Everyone with dual diagnosis has a unique and personal situation that must be understood by all members of their aftercare team.

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