In a dual diagnosis treatment plan, you can receive therapy and treatment for co-occurring mental health disorders and substance abuse. Part of that treatment may include self-compassion, where you learn to shift your focus away from obsessing over things that you’ve done in the past or things you aren’t happy with and focus instead on the important realities of who you are today and how you can make healthy choices to improve your life moving forward.
Effectiveness of Self-Compassion for Dual Diagnosis Treatment
Self-compassion practices for dual diagnosis treatment can be used for individuals struggling with:
Borderline personality disorder
Clinical samples of people with psychopathological symptoms have found that low self-compassion is often an issue across all mental health disorders, ages, genders, and other demographics. However, high self-compassion is an essential element in preventing the reappearance of several symptoms of mental health disorders.
A study also found that the risk of substance abuse disorder is inverse to self-compassion and that increasing self-compassion could be helpful to prevent substance abuse and could be practiced in substance abuse treatment.
Self-Compassion Practices for Dual Diagnosis
Self-compassion is when you treat yourself with kindness, particularly in times of need. There are several practices for dual diagnosis, but self-compassion practices effectively revolve around the concept of treating yourself the way you would a loved one.
Let’s look at an example:
Lynn struggles with chronic pain and depression. She previously turned to prescription opioids to manage her pain, but this led to an addiction.
Now, when Lynn is experiencing a low pain day, she tends to do too much. She tries to check everything off her to-do list at home and ends up exhausted. Draining her resources, when Lynn wakes up the next day, she feels even worse, so she can’t do anything, let alone her basic tasks.
This cycle exacerbates feelings of depression in Lynn, and she is constantly berating herself for not having more energy and comparing her current pain levels to what she had the day before. During these episodes, Lynn struggles with a lot of guilt over the time she wasted in the past, not being as productive as the day prior despite high pain. She feels like quitting and thinks back on how much easier life was when she took opioids on high-pain days.
In Lynn’s example above, she experiences a common cycle among clients with chronic pain, but it’s an equally common cycle among clients who don’t practice self-compassion.
So, how do you use self-compassion practices?
Individual therapy can teach you to take an honest look at yourself
Cognitive behavioral therapy can help you look at the bigger picture and recognize which behaviors you want to change
Mindfulness can help you shift your attitude toward struggle or failure and change your internal responses to those from a more compassionate place, the same as you would toward a loved one
With a residential treatment program for dual diagnosis self-compassion therapy, Lynn might learn that when she experiences these cycles, her automatic thoughts are something to the effect of “You are so worthless. What is wrong with you that you can’t even get up and clean the dishes in the sink?” instead of what she would say to her best friend in a time of need, which would be something like, “This is fine. You did a lot of stuff yesterday, and you’re in high pain today. You’re not expected to be overly productive every day. Cut yourself some slack. You are loved.”
Holistic Treatment at Liberty House Recovery Center
At Liberty House, our dual diagnosis center in Michigan provides clients with several holistic, person-centered approaches to healing. Our goal is to heal the mind and body simultaneously, and that can’t happen until you’ve learned to forgive yourself and exercise self-compassion.
Overall, when you’ve struggled with addiction, it’s very easy to be hard on yourself, especially when things are challenging or when you want to quit or experience a relapse. You might feel guilty about what you’ve done or struggle to move forward with emotional healing because you haven’t forgiven yourself or others. Self-compassion practices for dual diagnosis clients provide a useful tool to overcome these issues.