It is no easy thing for parents to watch their children struggle with addiction, substance abuse and related behavioral problems. It can be an incredibly difficult and confusing time for a parent. You want to help, but you have questions about what the best approach is.
It can be easy to miss, disregard or deny the signs of your son or daughter’s emotional or mental problems. In this article we will address parents’ normal worries, fears and questions about the mental health treatment that may be included in the recovery process. Mental health therapies are highly beneficial in treating substance abuse and related psychiatric problems.
Dual Diagnosis Programs
Dual diagnosis treatment is not a rare phenomenon by any means: as many as half of those with a drug or alcohol addiction also have some form of mental illness. Any combination of depression, anxiety, bipolar or other mental health disorder combined with drug abuse, alcoholism, compulsive gambling or other addiction can qualify someone for dual diagnosis treatment.
These co-occurring disorders are found more often than not in people entering rehabilitation facilities. Even for those who suffer only from addiction and no other disorder, learning the mental health principles and self-care topics taught in group therapy sessions proves invaluable and a necessary part of gaining a new sobriety toolset.
The Interwoven Nature of Addiction and Mental Health Issues
Addiction and mental health epitomize the age-old question “Which came first: the chicken or the egg?”.
When someone has a dual diagnosis, it can be difficult to unravel whether their addiction caused mental health problems or vice versa. Substance use and withdrawal often cause depression, anxiety and other reactions.
Just as commonly, individuals suffering from mental illness or even unpleasant emotions might cope by using substances. Although it can be difficult to pinpoint which diagnosis triggered the other, of greater concern is how best to deal with these medical issues.
Here are some of the reasons people in recovery have cited for turning to drugs and alcohol as a subconscious, self-medicating coping mechanism:
- Inability or unwillingness to face their problems
- Inability or unwillingness to feel their emotions
- To deal with psychological pain
- To tolerate physical pain
- Undesirable side effects from mental health medications, making alcohol or drug use a more enticing option
- To try to manage their depression, anxiety or other mental health disorder
- A previously masked illness or imbalance in the body
If you are the mother or father of a young person who is struggling with alcoholism or drug abuse, it is possible that they are dealing with an underlying mental health issue, as well.
Mental health treatment can unearth these causes. Once these symptoms are treated, it will become easier for your child to focus on the reasons behind the addiction. Finally, their recovery from substance use disorder (SUD) will have a more successful prognosis when the rehab center treats both diagnoses.
Mental Health Rehab
Drug and alcohol abuse can have emotional consequences. Stopping drug and alcohol use can cause mental and emotional symptoms of withdrawal. Although acutely distressing, these symptoms may only be temporary.
Some aftereffects of withdrawal can be serious and cause permanent damage or even death. This is why is important to have your child go through detox and medical supervision in a qualified rehab facility.
Mental health treatment and counseling are often necessary to treat painful emotional symptoms. When brought on by withdrawal, these symptoms may only be temporary and should gradually fade away after a period of sobriety. However, for your son or daughter to receive the best care possible and to relieve undue suffering, mental health therapies are necessary.
The mental health counseling given in rehab is not at all the same thing as mental health counseling for severe mental illnesses.
Mental health counseling in rehabilitation centers focuses on addressing the underlying mental, emotional and spiritual issues as they relate to substance and alcohol abuse. Usually, mental health treatment is short term during rehab and gradually decreases during the patient’s treatment and recovery period.
For example, during early recovery, these three evidence-based treatments are commonly employed:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy helps people deal with the stress and emotions involved in the psychological withdrawal from substances.
- Motivational interviewing reminds people of their value and self-worth while boosting self-esteem and eradicating the guilt, shame and negative emotions associated with substance use.
- Group therapy allows people to share and support each other with the psychological challenges of withdrawal, the issues and trauma prompting substance use, and starting a new way of life.
Substance abuse has roots in mental, emotional or spiritual causality. People abuse drugs because they are hurting. Effective addiction treatment addresses the factors that led an individual to their drug of choice.
As a father or mother, you want the best treatment for your child, and if they have a co-occurring disorder, that treatment should address their mental health illness as well as the addiction. Studies show that someone with a dual diagnosis who only receives treatment for his or her addiction is at higher risk of relapse than those who receive both mental health and addiction care.
The Best Addiction Treatment Care
The best treatment facilities meet the needs of their clients, help them learn or relearn how to live a life of healthy, enjoyable sobriety, and teach them how to avoid relapse. When someone has dual diagnosis, the best chance for this kind of success involves an integrated approach.
In most cases of dual diagnosis, the mental health issues subside with comprehensive treatment during addiction rehab. If the medical team discovers a serious mental health issue during treatment, a psychiatrist should address it.
Mental health and medical professionals on staff may need to set up treatment outside the facility if the mental health issue is severe. An additional treatment plan outside of the substance abuse treatment plan may be necessary.
It would be the same scenario if a patient were found to have a medical condition – a heart problem, for instance – during rehab. The patient would be treated medically and likely have an additional treatment plan for their heart condition as a comorbidity.
Reflections Recovery Center has the medical professionals on staff to treat serious mental health problems like PTSD and trauma; however, most clients only need assistance dealing with mental health as it relates to addiction.
If your child identifies as LGBT, they may have gender-specific needs for treatment. Choosing a facility that is exceptionally friendly to the LGBT community offers advantages, such as:
- Providing a safer environment for recovery.
- Gender-specific needs are considered in each client’s individualized plan.
- Is it the best interests of those from an LGBT background.
- Allowing the best chance for success for those who identify as LGBT.
Counselors at Reflections Recovery Center want people of diverse backgrounds to feel accepted and safe during treatment.
Our goal is to offer our clients tools to 1) accept themselves for who they are, 2) deal with their feelings in relation to their substance use, and 3) become healthy and fulfilled without mind-altering substances.
Preparation for Parents
Parents should understand that the initial early recovery period brings several challenges for the individual struggling with drug and alcohol addiction. Those first few days, weeks and months can be difficult, and having the right support system and care in a qualified facility makes all the difference.
Finding a holistic mental health treatment center that meets the individual needs of your child increases the odds for their successful recovery. Some guests have an easier time than others letting go of risky and addictive behaviors. Whether it comes quickly, or they need a little more help, Reflections Recovery Center has the available resources to meet your child’s needs.