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A Deeper Understanding Of Dual Diagnosis







Quite a few people that enter a treatment center will hear the terms “Dual Diagnosis” or “Co-occurring Disorder.”  This is because so many people who suffer from addiction also have psychological problems that may have led to the drug or alcohol use or are now an issue because of substance abuse. 

Can it also mean that addiction is simply the issue, that the person is addicted to several substances?  For example, could a dual diagnosis also mean addiction to both drugs and alcohol or say alcohol and gambling.  Yes.  But usually, it is a physical and emotion situation that needs to be taken care of with the help of professionals.  When someone is experiencing of a dual diagnosis or co-occurring disorder, you will often see them try to take matters into their own hands.  This is called “self-medicating.”  The emotional distress is overwhelming and the person turns to their substance of choice to feel normal and functional, more like the way used to feel.  It is not really about achieving a “high” as much as it is masking the pain they are living with on a day to day basis. 

Vista Taos Treatment Center in Taos, New Mexico is located about 85 miles north of Santa Fe.  They are specialists in the treatment and recovery process for people who suffer from a dual diagnosis situation.  They understand treating the emotional strain a person has that turns them to substance abuse is just as important as treatment and detoxification from the drugs or alcohol.  There is a pattern or cycle that becomes a constant game of masking the difficulties in their lives.  Usually both the psychological and the chemical needs of the addict become a problem as they tumble through their cycle of abuse.  Life in general becomes difficult to manage.

One of the most challenging aspects to dealing with co-occurring disorders is that a person may enter the treatment center and not fully understand that there are emotional problems that may block their chances of sobriety.  They may feel their stress and anxiety are just part of life and that their chemical problem is a completely separate issue.  They may feel like their emotions are not necessary to deal with in order to get well again.  It is up to the experts at the treatment center to work with them on their social situations to help them better understand themselves.  This greatly reduces the chance of a relapse.

With so many forms of dual diagnosis situations and patterns of substance abuse, it can be difficult to treat.  That is why the patient must be willing to work with the treatment center counselors to deal with both sides: the emotional and the chemical.  Addiction comes in many forms.

If the addiction is actively treated, without a focus on the emotional issues, consequences once the person has left treatment can be very negative.  Family and relationship problems will continue to spin out of control.  The person’s self-esteem will diminish and the person may end up feeling isolated and alone.  This often ends with the person once again turning to drugs or alcohol to self-medicate.  Financial burdens grow greater and the health and well-being of a person continues to slide. 

If you or someone you care about feel that a dual diagnosis situation is the case, never think that it will be too “rough to handle” in a treatment center or that there is no hope when a life has spun out of control.  Counselors like the caring staff at Vista Taos Treatment Center for Addiction in New Mexico can and do treat both emotional and physical dependencies.  Once an addiction has become overwhelming, those struggling with substance abuse problems need to understand that their quality of life can be so much better.  Addiction can take many forms, but individualized treatment on a case by case basis is the preferred practice at rehabilitation facilities, to maximize the treatment experience and goal of achieving long term sobriety. Eac person battling addiction and emotional problems can take their dual diagnosis through those treatment center doors and know there is a chance for them to start again.


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COVID-19 update: The health and safety of our clients at Vista Taos Renewal Center continues to be our highest priority. Due to the national rise in cases of COVID-19, all potential clients entering the Vista Taos program shall be tested for the virus and must receive their results prior to admission. Vista Taos continues to work closely with the New Mexico Department of Health, adhering to the highest standards of care for our clients, and will provide subsequent testing after admission as needed. For assistance in finding the most efficient testing sites, please contact our Director of Community Relations, Jeremy Lihte, at (575) 425-1913
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