The Essential Guide to Dual Diagnosis Sober Living: What You Need to Know

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Overcoming addiction and mental health disorders can be full of struggles that require you to change many things in your life, such as:

  • Your negative automatic thoughts
  • Your behaviors
  • Your lifestyle decisions
  • What you use for comfort
  • The people with whom you associate

There are unique challenges associated with dual diagnosis situations. In addition to tackling the physical and mental struggles associated with addiction, you must take on the responsibility of managing mental health issues.

Most Common Dual Diagnosis Situations

Dual diagnosis refers to any situation where you have a co-occurring mental health disorder alongside an addiction. Common dual diagnosis examples include:

  • People struggling with PTSD are more likely to develop an addiction to alcohol or sleeping pills to self-medicate for sleep-related issues or traumatic flashbacks
  • Those who struggle with anxiety disorders are more likely to develop an addiction to benzodiazepines as a prescription for anxiety
  • People who struggle with depression or bipolar disorder are more likely to develop addictions to alcohol, cocaine, or other stimulants to help manage or mask symptoms

How to Manage Dual Diagnosis Sober Living

If you are living with co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders, try these strategies to manage dual diagnosis sober living after treatment.

Get Treatment

The first step is getting professional treatment. Professional treatment can ensure you have a proper and correct diagnosis. It’s not uncommon for people struggling with bipolar disorder or PTSD to be mistakenly diagnosed with depression or anxiety disorders, as these can have very similar symptoms.

Know Your Triggers

It’s important to identify your triggers. Knowing what your triggers are can help you prepare yourself with extra coping skills before you find yourself in a triggering situation or may even help you avoid certain triggers altogether.

Practice Emotional Regulation

Next, you need to know how to practice emotional regulation. Emotional regulation is a tool that you can use to change the way you automatically respond to stressful situations or triggers. Many of the emotional regulation techniques that are used today are based on cognitive behavioral therapy, one of the most common evidence-based practices for mental health disorders and addiction. 

Emotional regulation technqiues include:

  • Meditation
  • Going outside
  • Exercise
  • Yoga
  • Music
  • Art
  • Mindfulness 
  • Socialization
  • Journaling 
  • Self-care 

Use Medication If Needed

If you participate in dual-diagnosis treatment and are prescribed medication for part of your mental health symptoms, don’t stop using it because you don’t feel relief straight away. The medication may take several weeks to become fully effective, so it’s important to be patient.

Many dual diagnosis services include medication management, which means a chance to review the medication you are taking regularly with a professional to determine how effective a given prescription is. 

Sometimes, the medication you are prescribed is designed to help with acute symptoms or is something you can wean yourself off of with time and other coping skills. Work with your care team to ensure you get the right solution. 

Keep a Sleep/Mood Diary

A sleep or mood diary can help you uncover activities or lifestyle habits that might interfere with sleep quality. With dual diagnosis sober living, it is important to identify which sources of stress, mental health symptoms, or triggers might contribute to your poor focus or poor sleep. 

For example:

  • A diary might reveal that when you have a cookie and ice cream with dinner, you have trouble staying asleep at night, or the quality of sleep is poor because of overactive dreams.
  • A diary might reveal that when you make time to exercise, you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. 
  • A diary might reveal that when you forget to take medication for a mental health disorder, you have too much anxiety to sleep.
  • A diary might reveal that when triggered, you don’t sleep as well if you don’t meditate before bed.

If you are struggling with dual diagnosis sober living, make time for journaling either during the day or before bed. This can be great for reflecting on your day and the quality and quantity of sleep you had the night before. 

Dual Diagnosis Treatment at The Differents

Overall, don’t be afraid to get the right type of treatment when the time comes. Dual diagnosis sober living relies on your ability to regulate emotions and apply coping skills to stressful situations. You can learn more about these techniques in treatment at The Differents, a trusted drug rehab in Reno. We offer dual diagnosis treatment in Nevada at our luxury addiction treatment center. Reach out to The Differents today to learn more about dual diagnosis care.

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