Adjustment Disorder and Addiction Treatment

The journey of life is full of twists and turns, some expected, others arising seemingly out of nowhere. While some types of change present more difficulties than others, most people are able to navigate this winding terrain without extreme difficulty. Sometimes, however, you cannot cope with your new situation, and develop Adjustment Disorder. When this disorder co-occurs with drug addiction, the path to healing must begin with dual diagnosis treatment.

The Only Constant is Change

Adjustment Disorder is a very common stress-related disorder that occurs in the aftermath of significant life changes. Also called situational depression, this disorder can leave you with a host of painful emotional symptoms that prevent you from moving forward to create a fulfilling life. During this time, you may feel overwhelmed by anxiety, hopelessness, and sadness, and may do things that are out of step with the person you truly are.

Some of the most common triggers of adjustment disorder include:

  • The end of a significant relationship
  • The loss of a loved one
  • Losing your job
  • Being the victim of a crime
  • Becoming a parent
  • Moving away from home
  • Experiencing a serious illness
  • Having an accident
  • Surviving a disaster

People can develop adjustment disorder despite having no previous history of psychiatric instability, and anyone of any age may develop the illness. However, those who are at an age associated with major transitions, such as adolescence, middle-age, or retirement may be at increased risk.

Symptoms of Adjustment Disorder

Symptoms of adjustment disorder typically emerge within 3 months of the triggering event and taper off within 6 months. During that time, you may experience:

  • Intense sadness, hopelessness, and helplessness
  • Anxiety and worry
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Sleep disruptions
  • Social withdrawal
  • Reckless behavior
  • Fatigue and listlessness
  • Thoughts of self-harm or suicide

Although most people stop having symptoms within 6 months, for some, adjustment disorder persists and even becomes more serious with time.

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Adjustment Disorder and Addiction

People in distress often turn to drugs to quell feelings of sadness, anxiety, and depression. Over time, you come to rely on these substances to get through difficult situations or even just through the day. People with adjustment disorder are at heightened risk for abusing substances due to both the presence of emotional discord and the increased willingness to engage in risky and self-destructive behavior. Often, people will increase their alcohol intake or drug use, or begin using for the first time, often with little consideration for personal safety. But ultimately, drugs will not take your suffering away, but only augment it, increasing the severity of your symptoms while simultaneously disturbing delicate brain activity to create addiction.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment

If you are experiencing adjustment disorder, seeking the guidance of a trained mental health professional can be essential to helping you cope with the events you have gone through and restoring your emotional well-being. If your adjustment disorder is accompanied by co-occurring drug addiction, however, dual diagnosis treatment gives you the best chance at full recovery.

Your adjustment disorder and drug addiction do not exist as two separate entities, but are interwoven in an intricate tapestry. Dual diagnosis treatment seeks to unravel this tapestry by giving you multiple avenues toward healing that address the full scope of your needs. By engaging in a range of evidence-based therapies, you can gain a deeper understanding of your distress, your use, and your authentic self, ultimately allowing you to create the emotional tranquility you need to move forward. The most effective therapeutic modalities for adjustment disorder and addiction include:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
  • Psychodynamic Therapy
  • Experiential Therapy
  • Holistic Therapies
  • 12-step support groups

In some cases, pharmacological treatment may be a useful addition to the total therapeutic picture. A psychiatrist who specializes in dual diagnosis treatment can help you determine whether or not medication is right for you, and develop an effective, well-tolerated medication plan.

Dual diagnosis treatment gives you the time and space to focus on your psychological and behavioral well-being without the distractions of every day life. Surrounded by compassionate clinicians and supportive peers, you can fully explore what has brought you to this place and develop real strategies for moving toward the life you want. If your adjustment disorder and subsequent drug addiction were caused by trauma, specialized trauma-focused therapies can allow you to safely begin the healing process, fortifying yourself emotionally while creating a strong foundation for ongoing recovery. By the end of treatment, you should be walking away with not only the tools to cope with stressors and a well-articulated plan for what comes next, but with a sense of empowerment and deep personal growth that you can continue to carry into your day-to-day life.

If you would like more information about drug addiction and adjustment disorder, or have any questions about dual diagnosis treatment, we encourage you to contact us at any time. We are always available to offer support and guidance to help you find the help you need to create true and lasting recovery.