Dissociative identity disorder (DID) is a condition in which two or more distinct identities exist within a single person, and each personality controls the individual’s behavior at different times. DID had been called multiple personality disorder (MPD), but the name change occurred in 1994 to reflect a new understanding of the condition. It appears DID is the fragmentation of a single personality and not the proliferation of more. These different personalities, or “alters,” can have their own gender, race, age, gestures, style and accent, and the disorder is accompanied by severe memory impairment. Many people diagnosed with DID also suffer from drug addiction or alcoholism. They abuse drugs like Vicodin to cope with the stress and self-mediate the emotional turmoil that comes from such a serious illness. In many cases, the person uses the drug in the simple hope of feeling even a little more normal. This makes co-occurring conditions like DID and addiction more challenging, and why professional integrated treatment is the key to recovery.
Challenges of DID and Substance Abuse
Vicodin, an opiate-based prescription painkiller, might help a person cope emotionally with DID, but DID itself is considered a coping mechanism to deal with severe childhood trauma, such as extreme and repetitive sexual or physical abuse. This creates treatment challenges, which include:
- DID symptoms are often mistaken for other mental disorders, and Vicodin abuse makes a proper diagnosis more difficult
- A person suffering DID generally experiences secondary issues like depression, anxiety, compulsions, mood swings, psychotic symptoms, and a sleeping and/or eating disorder
- The effectiveness of addiction treatment is limited until the dissociative personality is reintegrated and made whole
The challenge for treatment is clearly the switching of personalities. For example, addressing the childhood trauma could cause a patient to switch to an alter who has no idea why he is even in treatment. A rehab center can provide a tapered detox to break a physical dependency on Vicodin, but the DID must be addressed to allow the recovery tools to take effect.
Integrated DID and Addiction Care
Following the detox, an integrated care facility will provide the following:
- Mental health tests to confirm the DID and identify secondary disorders
- Determine, discuss, and treat the effects of childhood traumas
- Intensive one-on-one psychotherapy to reintegrated the fragmented personalities
- Help the patient experience previously repressed emotions and feelings
- Teach crisis-prevention tools to cope with DID personality switches
- Optional hypnosis to learn more about the different personalities
As the individual reintegrates his personality, recovery tools are employed to combat a Vicodin relapse. These tools include the following:
- Learning to recognize and avoid Vicodin-use triggers
- Behavioral therapies that improve mental and emotional responses
- Holistic options to treat discomfort if the patient suffers from chronic pain
Realistically speaking, treating DID and addiction is a long process. It takes time to identify DID specifically since there is overlap with similar disorders. Likewise, the aftercare process will likely require a case manager, which is a social worker responsible for ongoing care, accountability and helping with practical concerns like job training and housing.
If you or a loved one suffers from DID and addiction, you need to get help right away. Our counselors are available 24 hours a day to provide information about warning signs, treatment options, and integrated care. We can also check health insurance policies for coverage. Call our toll-free helpline today.