Self-Compassion Practices for Dual Diagnosis

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:

  • Bipolar disorder
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Depressive disorders
  • Schizophrenia
  • PTSD
  • 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.

Using Self-Compassion

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.

Our Michigan drug treatment centers offer comprehensive mental health and substance abuse treatment. Call our team today to learn more about self-compassion in our dual diagnosis programs.

Treating PTSD and Substance Abuse

Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, develops after an individual experiences trauma. Studies indicate that one out of every three people will develop PTSD and require treatment. Many people experience two or three traumatic experiences throughout their lifetime. PTSD doesn’t necessarily develop only after experiencing trauma. Instead, it can develop after someone close to you has experienced trauma or for those who work as First Responders and witness traumatic events.

PTSD can come from:

  • Accidents
  • Injuries
  • Domestic abuse
  • Assault
  • Natural disasters
  • War
  • Torture
  • Violence
  • Illnesses 

While it’s perfectly normal to experience symptoms of PTSD, like trouble sleeping or flashbacks immediately after a traumatic event, it becomes a mental health disorder when, several months after the fact, those symptoms have not gone away and, in many cases, have gotten worse.

Liberty House Recovery is a Michigan drug treatment center that offers comprehensive addiction treatment. Call today to learn more.

The Relationship Between PTSD and Addiction

When individuals don’t have a diagnosis, the ongoing symptoms of PTSD can lead them to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol. 

Those who struggle with PTSD often abuse benzodiazepines, alcohol, and sleeping pills to help temporarily relieve symptoms like recurring nightmares or insomnia.

This often leads to addiction. 

Symptoms of PTSD can include:

  • Frequent stress 
  • Anxiety
  • Fear
  • Sleeping problems
  • Nightmares
  • Intense flashbacks 
  • Disturbing thoughts
  • Problems concentrating

The problem is that triggers are unique to individual circumstances, so what triggers certain symptoms in one person might not be in another. Exposure to specific sounds, sights, or even smells could act as triggers and encourage drug or alcohol abuse. 

With ongoing addiction, symptoms of drug addiction can exacerbate symptoms of PTSD. For example, PTSD and addiction both contribute to higher levels of stress hormones like norepinephrine and adrenaline. These higher resting levels in the amygdala, when an individual is not in dangerous situations, can cause changes to brain structure. 

Eventually, the part of the brain responsible for memory, the hippocampus, gets smaller as the amygdala gets bigger, and this can make it difficult to concentrate or even store information in long-term memory. 

Other research indicates a high correlation between PTSD and addiction. People who struggle with untreated PTSD are more likely to use things like anti-anxiety medications or alcohol to reduce symptoms.

For example:

  • If someone experiences a flashback or nightmare while they’re sleeping, in order to get back to sleep, they might use high levels of alcohol
  • If someone gets triggered in the middle of a work day, they are more likely to turn to alcohol or drugs to reduce their symptoms so that they can either mask or ignore the symptoms

In any of these situations, the PTSD remains untreated, so the risk of being triggered or experiencing flashbacks that encourage repeat alcohol abuse or substance abuse gets higher and higher. The best course of action is to treat both conditions at the same time. 

PTSD and Substance Abuse Treatment

If you or someone close to you is struggling with PTSD and substance abuse, dual-diagnosis PTSD treatment is the best option. 

What is Dual Diagnosis Treatment?

Dual diagnosis treatment is when you go to the same facility and get care for PTSD and addiction concurrently. This can include things like talk therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, EMDR, holistic therapy, and medication.

How is Dual Diagnosis PTSD Treatment More Effective?

Dual diagnosis therapy is more effective than traditional addiction treatment because it helps target the underlying cause of addiction: PTSD. With traditional addiction treatment, an individual might get help for the physical aspects of their addiction, but soon after they return to their daily lives, stress and triggers might cause symptoms of PTSD to come back, starting the cycle of self-medication and substance abuse all over again.

Dual diagnosis PTSD treatment can include a daily schedule of holistic care like EMDR, which helps to reprocess the way in which memories, particularly traumatic memories, are stored in the brain without having to describe the events or circumstances to a therapist. This is the best-recommended therapy for PTSD used by the Department of Veterans Affairs and the World Health Organization

While targeting the underlying symptoms, the rest of the services received could help change things like negative automatic thoughts through cognitive behavioral therapy stress management techniques with meditation, mindfulness, and yoga.

Overall, PTSD and addiction are often interrelated. Getting the right help means finding dual-diagnosis PTSD treatment at a qualified facility like Liberty House Recovery. Our staff is here to help support your overall well-being by addressing the physical and psychological withdrawal from addiction and addressing untreated PTSD. 
If you are struggling with PTSD and substance abuse, contact our team today to tour our luxury drug and alcohol rehab center in Michigan.