Alcohol and Other Drug Diseases

Alcohol and Other Drug Diseases (AOD)

Access Hospital offers the unique service of dual diagnosis, which helps treat mental health patients with a secondary condition of substance abuse, dependence or addiction. We offer an intensive detoxification program combined with psychotherapy and cognitive behavioral therapy to help treat both conditions at the same time. Our patients learn the skills and techniques needed to cope with their individual challenges without feeling the need to depend on alcohol or drugs.

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMA) says that 45% of people with addiction have a co-occurring disorder. 

The following percentages, based on a National Institute of Mental Health study, lists seven major psychiatric disorders and shows how much each one increases an individual’s risk for substance abuse.

Psychiatric Disorder Increased Risk for Substance Abuse:


  • Antisocial Personality Disorder – 15.5%
  • Manic Episode – 14.5%
  • Schizophrenia – 10.1%
  • Panic Disorder – 4.3%
  • Major Depressive Episode – 4.1%
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder – 3.4%
  • Phobias – 2.4%



Thus, someone suffering from schizophrenia is at a 10.1% higher-than-average risk of being an alcoholic or drug abuser. Someone who is having an episode of major depression is at a 4.1% percent higher-than-average risk of being an alcohol or drug abuser, and so on.


What is Dual Diagnosis?

A person who has both an alcohol or drug problem and an emotional/psychiatric problem is said to have a dual diagnosis. To recover fully, the person needs treatment for both, simultaneously.

How Common is Dual Diagnosis?

Dual diagnosis is more common than you might imagine. According to a report published by the Journal of the American Medical Association: 

  • 37% of alcohol abusers and 53% of drug abusers also have at least one serious mental illness.  
  • Of all people diagnosed as mentally ill, 29% abuse either alcohol or drugs.
What Kind of Mental or Emotional Problems are Common in People with Alcohol or Drug Dependency?
  • Depressive disorders, such as depression and bipolar disorder.
  • Anxiety disorders, including generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and phobias.  
  • Other psychiatric disorders, such as schizophrenia and personality disorders
Which Develops First - Substance Abuse or Mental Illness?

It depends. Often the psychiatric problem develops first. In an attempt to feel calmer, more cheerful, or more in control of their feelings, a person with emotional symptoms may drink or use drugs; doctors call this “self-medication.” Frequent self-medication may eventually lead to physical or psychological dependency on alcohol or drugs.

How Does a Physician Tell Whether the Person's Primary Concern is their Substance Abuse or their Emotional Disorder?

At the initial examination, it may be difficult to tell; many symptoms of severe substance abuse mimic other psychiatric conditions. At Access, the patient must go through a medication assisted withdrawal from the alcohol and/or drugs to which they are addicted, before the physician can accurately assess the severity of the patient’s psychiatric problem. Until recently, alcoholics and drug addicts dreaded detoxification because it meant a painful and sometimes life-threatening “cold turkey” withdrawal. Now, we are able to give hospitalized substance abusers carefully chosen medications which can substantially ease withdrawal symptoms. Thus, when detoxification is done under medical supervision, it’s safer and less traumatic. While the patient detoxes, depending on their situation, they may begin to undergo psychotherapy and counseling for their emotional disorder.

What Does Medication-Assisted Detoxification Mean?

Detoxification is a crucial and potentially difficult time that deters many individuals from the recovery process. Most patients are highly concerned about withdrawal symptoms and how they will be managed. Depending on the substance and level of abuse, there are various withdrawal symptoms that can cause complications which require the immediate attention of a medical professional. Our patients can rest assured that they are under the 24-hour supervision of trained professionals that are concerned with their safety and comfort.
Medical detox is different from other types of detox in that it involves giving the patient a medication that will have similar effects on the brain as the drug he or she had been abusing, without the dangerous or euphoric side effects. This medication will, in a way, trick the brain and enable the patient to detox without extreme withdrawal symptoms as the dosage is gradually decreased. We will modify your detox treatment to best suit your needs. We monitor this tapering process, and you will be able to complete detox free, or mostly free, of withdrawal symptoms.

What Medications Can I Expect to Take During my Medically Assisted Detox?

Medically-assisted detoxification works to help anyone who suffers from an addiction to alcohol or drugs. Medical detox is a supervised procedure. Under the discretion of your doctor or nurse, you may be given non-addictive medications to remedy various withdrawal symptoms, in addition to nutritional supplements and fluids. These medications will work to keep your physical health intact while your body cleanses itself. Symptoms of your detox might be treated with common medications for blood pressure, anxiety or sleep, or pain and muscle aches. This process is usually complete within a week, although it is largely dependent on your individual condition. We want you to feel comfortable and safe during your detox process so that we can more quickly start you on the road to recovery.

What Medications can I Expect to Take During my Addiction Treatment?

Both your individual level of addiction and your process of detox will determine when your treatment medications begin. For some individuals they must be completely clean prior to beginning treatment, other individuals might slowly begin treatment medications while detoxing. These treatment medications might include, Suboxone or Vivatrol.

Although different in form, both of these prescription medications contain chemicals that act as a “blockers.” They attach to certain opioid receptors in your brain and block the pleasurable feelings associated with taking opioids. Even though these chemicals may block the intense high from opioids, they will not prevent good feelings that come from other naturally pleasurable activities.

After time, the medication will wear off and its blocking effect will slowly decrease until it completely goes away. It is important to know that you should not try to overcome the chemical blockade by taking opioids. Using opioids in the amounts you used before starting your treatment, or even lower amounts than before treatment, could lead to overdose or death.

At the appropriate dose Suboxone or Vivatrol treatment may: 

  • Suppress symptoms of opioid withdrawal 
  • Decrease cravings for opioids 
  • Reduce illicit opioid use 
  • Block the effects of other opioids 
  • Help patients stay in treatment 
  • Make patients less likely to relapse to physical dependence
When Will I be Expected to Take Part in my Rehabilitation Training

The answer to this question will depend entirely on the severity of your detoxification treatment programming. Your detox will not necessarily be complete when you begin therapy, as we encourage you to begin the rest of your treatment as soon as possible. These treatment services may include therapy, counseling, and group activities. This part of treatment will help you fight against loneliness that is at times felt while going through a detox program by working alongside other patients going through a similar circumstance.