Dual Diagnosis Means Working at Two or More Recoveries

“Change occurs when you become what you are, not when you try to become what you are not…change seems to happen when you have abandoned the chase after what you want to be (or think you should be) and have accepted–and fully experienced-what you are.”                          Janette Rainwater

Dual diagnosis has now become know as co-occurring. The switch in name change was necessary because there may be more than 2 illnesses presenting at the same time. Co-occurring is an unfortunate choice of names but we will use it to be clearer about our overall scope of self-discovery.

1. From  “Addiction,co-occurring conditions, and Humanity 101“:

“Over the past couple of years I’ve been doing a lot of thinking, talking and research around this whole co-occurring conditions/dual diagnoses thing. I think we, organisationally, have got astonishingly good at not dealing with it. We love to have these imaginary silos that we place people into, develop manuals and protocols to either keep them there or embargo them from going there. We’ve even developed competency/accountability frameworks, skill-sets and governance systems that ensure that, supposedly, the right person is working with the right person, at the right time, in the right place.

The trouble is that it mainly creates confusion, uncertainty, apartheid and exclusivity. Only the other day I received a phone call from a friend who is managing a substance misuse team for people with complex needs. He had been asked to develop a “criteria” for the people his team would be working with. I said that I’m very sorry but I really do not believe in having criteria for people we do or don’t work with and everybody who comes to substance misuse services for help will have complex needs. Turns out that he is of exactly the same mind but has to do it because that’s what he’s been instructed to do.

Doing things in this way means that we often screen more people out than we do in and I have real difficulties understanding why we continue to do it. Jordan Peterson’s 12 rules for life, motivational interviewing, open dialogue, ACT, CBT, person-centred counselling, narrative exposure, etc. are all transdiagnostic and probably work best under the collective umbrella of the therapeutic relationship.

I’m currently working with a paying client who has had a lifetime of psychiatric diagnoses and various dependencies. He came to me because he had approached his local alcohol service looking for a community alcohol detox. The detox would need to fit around his work, because he works for himself and is the only employee. He was drinking at least a 750-ml bottle of vodka every day and was getting increasingly desperate and depressed. The service said that, because of his underlying mental health problems, levels of alcohol use and not being able to take time off work they couldn’t help him! I know it beggars belief, doesn’t it? I negotiated a course of Librium with his GP, involved his mother and his local pharmacist in the plan (open dialogue), then did some motivational interviewing type interventions to boost his confidence and ensure that getting sober was the right thing to do. We arranged a daily telephone check-in and weekly face to face, with myself, and I taught his mum and him how to do blood pressure monitoring. He agreed to call in to the pharmacy if his BP raised or reduced by 10.”

2.  From Reunited Selves: “The Uninvited Guest”:

“Eyes focus steadily forward on another ominous obelisk.
The silhouette of the looming obstruction blocks out everything else.
It impedes perception of past progress.
It makes it hard to imagine the breathtaking future, seen as a reality only moments before.”

“It isn’t falling into old habits.
It isn’t that the finished work was worthless.
It isn’t backsliding.
It isn’t failure.
It’s a whole new hurdle, and now it’s time to get back to work.”

“The uninvited guest… Unwelcome? Not exactly.
This escort… Unwanted? No, that isn’t quite right.
Unsought but so well-known is this companion.
Skin, blood and bone are more easily abandoned.”

“Consider the weight of the load as it shifts to your shoulders
It feels both novel and familiar
Let this unsolicited guest tie the bundle tight
Try to see the ropes that bore into your back as the ribbons of a magnificent gift
And try not to feel discouraged.”

3.  From helpguide.org: “Substance Abuse and Mental Health”:

Self-help for substance abuse and co-occurring disorders

Getting sober is only the beginning. Your continued recovery depends on continuing mental health treatment, learning healthier coping strategies, and making better decisions when dealing with life’s challenges.

Recovery tip 1: Recognize and manage overwhelming stress and emotions

  • Learn how to manage stress. Stress is inevitable, so it’s important to have healthy coping skills so you can deal with stress without turning to alcohol or drugs. Stress management skills go a long way towards preventing relapse and keeping your symptoms at bay.
  • Know your triggers and have an action plan. If you’re coping with a mental disorder as well, it’s especially important to know signs that your illness is flaring up. Common causes include stressful events, big life changes, or unhealthy sleeping or eating. At these times, having a plan in place is essential to preventing drug relapse. Who will you talk to? What do you need to do?

Recovery tip 2: Stay connected

  • Get therapy or stay involved in a support group. Your chances of staying sober improve if you are participating in a social support group like Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous or if you are getting therapy.
  • Follow doctor’s orders. Once you are sober and you feel better, you might think you no longer need medication or treatment. But arbitrarily stopping medication or treatment is a common reason for relapse in people with co-occurring disorders. Always talk with your doctor before making any changes to your medication or treatment routine.

Recovery tip 3: Make healthy lifestyle changes

  • Practice relaxation techniques.  When practiced regularly, relaxation techniques such as mindfulness meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, and deep breathing can reduce symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression, and increase feelings of relaxation and emotional well-being.
  • Adopt healthy eating habits. Start the day right with breakfast, and continue with frequent small meals throughout the day. Going too long without eating leads to low blood sugar, which can make you feel more stressed or anxious.
  • Exercise regularly. Exercise is a natural way to bust stress, relieve anxiety, and improve your mood and outlook. To achieve the maximum benefit, aim for at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise on most days.
  • Get enough sleep. A lack of sleep can exacerbate stress, anxiety, and depression, so try to get 7 to 9 hours of quality sleep a night.

Photo credit.

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