Dual Diagnosis Clinic Los Angeles | PCH Treatment Center

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What is “Dual Diagnosis?”

The days of the pure alcoholic and addict are gone. Almost every person with chemical dependency issues has an underlying psychological component which contributes to, causes or complicates their addiction. Often, a client with an addiction will receive care at a drug and alcohol treatment center without success due to underlying psychological problems. It is to these clients that PCH Treatment Center offers unique expertise, hope and healing.

“Dual-Diagnosis” refers to the coexistence of a substance abuse problem, specifically alcohol or drug abuse, in association with underlying emotional or psychological issues, such as depression, bipolar disorder, trauma related personality issues, anxiety and others. The term “co-occurring disorders” is also used. Persons with a dual-diagnosis face the challenge of dealing with substance abuse and psychological difficulties, which work together to compromise the person’s ability to address either problem. Furthermore, either disorder can cause the person to relapse or deteriorate within the other disorder. Persons with a psychological problem who have become dependent on alcohol or drugs have much more difficulty staying sober without treatment of their psychological issues. The same regions of the brain are involved in chemical dependency and many psychiatric problems. Up to 50% of persons diagnosed with a psychological illness abuse alcohol or drugs.

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How PCH Treats Dual-Diagnosis

At PCH Treatment Center we help many people who have “failed” treatment at drug and alcohol centers because their underlying psychological issues have not been addressed. “Failed” can mean continued addiction, or abstinence with a flaring up of anxiety, depression, mania, personality issues, trauma or other psychological difficulties. It can also refer to someone who, though abstinent, is not functioning within their family, work or school environment.

While treatment of a client with a Dual-Diagnosis may be challenging, at PCH Treatment Center we have a strong expertise in separating out addictive behaviors from psychological problems whose symptoms may be masked by substance abuse. Alcohol or drug use or withdrawal can certainly mimic psychiatric symptoms. Untreated chemical dependency can contribute to the onset or recurrence of psychiatric problems. Accordingly, it is extremely important to make a correct initial diagnosis when multiple issues are concurrent, to optimize subsequent treatment.

Our first priority at PCH Treatment Center is to perform a careful evaluation to determine the underlying issues presenting for treatment. We are very careful when we develop a treatment plan. Our philosophy is to offer an integrated treatment plan, combining psychological and addiction model approaches to healing. Considerations for clients with addiction include many factors. Housing is extremely important. Oftentimes, a person who is recently sober or still struggling with addiction will need the containment of a sober living home, where they can be closely watched and tested for substance use. Our assignment of a program director (case manager) and individual therapists will center around our clinicians who have backgrounds in chemical dependency and dual diagnosis. Specific groups and therapeutic modalities will also be selected for the client that address their individual needs. PCH also performs full neuropsychological testing. Some clients who have had longterm or severe periods of substance abuse may be experiencing cognitive dysfunction that can be evaluated with neuropsychological assessment, which is used when indicated to assist in developing a treatment plan.

Traditionally, substance abuse problems have been treated in a more intense or confrontational manner when compared to psychological problems, which are addressed in a more supportive, non-confrontational manner. PCH Treatment Center offers an integrated program for clients with Dual Diagnosis, which balances these treatment approaches. We feature therapists with specific expertise in working with clients with Dual Diagnosis in an immersive setting.

Causes of Dual Diagnosis

Drug abuse, including alcoholism, narcotic addiction, and prescription drug abuse can induce symptoms consistent with mental illness, during both the acute intoxication stage and withdrawal stage. Psychiatric symptoms can persist long after drug use has ceased, such as prolonged psychosis or depression after methamphetamine or cocaine use. Marijuana and hallucinogens can produce delusional behavior and psychosis long after use has stopped. Severe anxiety and depression are associated with alcohol abuse. Conversely, persons with a psychological problem, such as anxiety disorder, depression, bipolar disorder, psychological trauma, or personality disorder, may use drugs or alcohol to self-medicate.

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