My Loved One has Depression/Anxiety/Past Trauma: Can Rehab Help with That?

Posted on September 8th, 2010

Many people who enter a drug rehab to overcome their addiction also have other underlying problems. It could be depression, suicidal thoughts, anxiety, panic attacks, or other psychiatric issue that both aggravates and fuels their addiction. The fact is that many people with drug and alcohol addiction also have a co-occurring psychiatric disorder. Some have alcohol or drug addictions, a psychiatric disorder, experienced past trauma and suffer from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In order to gain the most out of rehab, the person needs to be treated in a facility that specializes in treating both the addiction and the underlying psychiatric issues.

Treatment Facility Needs to be Properly Staffed

Not every addiction treatment facility is equipped to handle addiction and co-occurring disorders or behavioral conditions (also called dual diagnosis). They often say they do in their ads and marketing material, but saying they treat dual diagnosis and actually being staffed with the right clinicians to handle psychiatric disorders are two different things.
Without psychiatrists on location at regular intervals throughout the week who are able to assess clients and make clinical recommendations for the appropriate treatment of underlying diagnoses, rehab will not be successful. Be sure any addiction treatment facility you are considering is able to meet the needs of your loved one with addiction and a co-occurring psychiatric disorder, possibly with past trauma as well.

Ask questions to find out exactly how the treatment facility handles dual diagnosis clients. What exactly do they do to treat these individuals who also have addiction? Do not just settle for a treatment facility that looks good. Check their success ratio with patients who have been treated there. Make sure that the treatment facility is properly accredited, that all licenses and credentials for the facility and staff are in order.

Dual Diagnosis Requires Concurrent Treatment

Why not just treat the addiction first and worry about the mental health or other issues later? Unfortunately, that used to be the approach utilized at many treatment facilities. Not much was known about how to effectively treat substance abuse and mental health disorders simultaneously. Now, however, research has shown that patients who undergo concurrent treatment for addiction and mental health issues stand a much better chance at being able to achieve and sustain abstinence.

Effective treatment for addiction requires that the patient have a thorough understanding of the disease of addiction, learn about and understand risk factors for relapse, and become familiar with and practice coping strategies and techniques to help them once they complete treatment and rejoin society.

Not only do the co-occurring issues need to be addressed with effective treatment during rehab, they also require follow-up and monitoring in aftercare or continuing care upon completion of treatment. Some patients with dual diagnosis transition from active treatment to a therapeutic community or to other transition living arrangements until they are better equipped to handle the stresses of daily living on their own or return to their families.

Trauma Recovery

Individuals who have and addiction and also suffered past trauma require an integrative therapeutic program that helps them self-heal and reduce the possibility of relapse.

One evidence-based therapy that has been proven to work is eye movement desensitization reprocessing (EMDR). This innovative method of psychotherapy involves eye movement and bilateral stimulation to desensitize and reprocess the patient’s traumatic memories. Since overwhelming emotions can quickly derail recovery and result in relapse, integrated and comprehensive treatment of the past trauma and the addition are necessary to give the patient the best opportunity for recovery.

EMDR works where traditional talk therapy may not, for patients with multiple diagnoses and complex issues. Talk therapy uses methods that work on the left side of the brain, whereas trauma inhabits the brain’s right side. Using only talk therapy, patients remain stuck in past trauma. EMDR is a method that treats both the left and right sides of the brain. Although originally designed to treat traumatic memories, EMDR has been found to effectively treat PTSD, panic disorders, anxiety, and other complaints that follow distressing or overwhelming events. The success rate of EMDR is nothing short of phenomenal. Several studies report success rates of 77 to 90 percent remission in single trauma victims with as few as five hours of treatment.

Serene, Supportive Environment is Key

When your loved one has gone through a great deal of past trauma, in addition to addiction of one form or another (possibly even multiple addictions), and is also grappling with depression, anxiety, and an overall inability to properly function in the world, he or she needs the highest standards of professional care. It also helps to have serene surroundings and a supportive environment to facilitate the healing process.

With 24-hour monitoring and trained professionals always available, any issue that comes up can be addressed quickly and comprehensively. When necessary, additional specialists can be called on-site to delve more deeply into a particular area of their expertise. These may include prominent guest lecturers who may conduct group learning exercises or motivational programs – even therapeutic leisure or recreational activities.

Think of the residential treatment facility as an idyllic island oasis that exists apart from, yet connected to the world, and that is wholly self-sufficient. Everything your loved one requires is available in the treatment facility all during the treatment program that’s been tailored to meet his or her unique needs.

Here your loved one will receive regular re-assessment and adjustment of therapeutic modalities, ongoing medication monitoring, counseling, and medical treatment as required.

Holistic Therapies Aid in Relaxation

Many individuals with anxiety, depression, or other psychiatric disorder benefit greatly from holistic therapies available in residential treatment facilities. These include yoga, meditation, acupuncture, massage, equine therapy, and nutritional counseling.

These holistic therapies, integrated seamlessly with other treatment modalities, help patients to reduce and relieve stress and anger, decrease anxiety, depression, agitation and cravings, as well as increase trust, improve self-esteem, and help balance the mind-body-spirit connection.

Bottom line: If your loved one has depression/anxiety/past trauma, look for a treatment facility that specializes in treating dual diagnosis or co-occurring disorders, along with substance abuse. Thoroughly check it out so that you are satisfied they can meet the unique needs of your loved one. In the end, rehab is much more than just getting clean and walking out the door to rejoin society. It’s also about preparing the individual and providing effective tools to use to embrace and thrive in recovery.

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