Understanding Body Dysmorphia And Addiction Disorders

One of the most underreported mental health illnesses in America is body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), also known as body dysmorphia. Body dysmorphia is a mental health condition in which an individual develops a distressing or impairing preoccupation with perceived physical flaws. More than 10 million people in America live with body dysmorphia, and researchers predict that numerous cases remain unreported. The cause of body dysmorphia is unknown, but exposure during childhood to actions or experiences that cultivate repeated feelings of incompetence and shame are highly correlated. The capacity of body dysmorphia to completely disrupt and debilitate individuals places them at an increased risk of developing an addiction, or a substance use disorder (SUD).

Though addiction can happen to anyone, it is 2% to 13% more likely in individuals with BDD. According to a study published by the US National Library of Medicine, 68% of participants suffering from addiction reported that BDD contributed to their dependency. The high levels of emotional distress and anxiety caused by BDD can debilitate a person’s ability to socialize or even function. As a method of coping, people dealing with body dysmorphia can turn to illicit drugs for relief.

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Examples of drugs used to cope with BDD:

Co-Occurring Body Dysmorphia And Addiction Disorder Treatment

Treatment for body dysmorphia typically focuses on correcting false beliefs and minimizing compulsive behavior. When coupled with an SUD, treatment methods vary based on each individual. The first step towards a successful co-occurring body dysmorphia and addiction recovery is detox. An excellent and safe way of detoxing is opting for a well-managed medication-assisted treatment (MAT).

Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) For BDD And Addiction Disorder

The use of substances can intensify and worsen BDD symptoms. To successfully treat and improve BDD, a medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is an excellent choice. MATs aid recovering users during detox and can help patients sustain recovery by providing relief from physical and emotional withdrawal discomforts. MATs can assist with fevers, cravings, high blood pressure, and much more.

Opioid Addiction And Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)

Opioid antagonists are commonly used during detoxification and relapse prevention to shorten or eliminate opioid withdrawal symptoms. When combined, some of these medications can deter relapse by causing a withdrawal reaction during detoxification or maintenance therapy.

Examples of commonly used medications during opioid recovery include:

Cocaine, Stimulants, And Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)

Some people struggling with Body Dysmorphia develop a cocaine or stimulant dependency to achieve unrealistic weight loss goals. During cocaine addiction recovery, withdrawal may lead to sudden weight gain. The body’s fat regulations malfunction can cause intense distress and relapse.

Common drugs used to aid recovering users during withdrawal and avoid relapse are:

  • Psychostimulants
  • Modafinil
  • Bupropion
  • Topiramate
  • Disulfiram

Anabolic Steroids And Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)

Anabolic steroid use is common in individuals grappling with muscle dysmorphic disorder (a type of BDD). As a form of treatment, medications that help balance testosterone levels are frequently prescribed.

Typical medications used to aid anabolic steroid recovery include:

Alcohol Use Disorder And Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)

There are many prescriptions to aid users recovering from an alcohol use disorder (AUD). During a MAT, clinical specialists will prescribe medication to reduce withdrawal symptoms, alcohol-induced euphoria, and inhibit alcohol from metabolizing.

Examples of common alcohol use disorder medications are:

  • Acamprosate
  • Disulfiram
  • Naltrexone

Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRI) And Body Dysmorphia Treatment

The most effective MATs for body dysmorphia are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI). SSRIs are a type of medication generally used in the treatment of illnesses related to serotonin deficiencies. This kind of prescription can integrate into most co-occurring addiction treatments.

Even with a MAT, an initial detox can be dangerous and likely to result in a relapse. The probability of relapsing is about 45% for individuals with 1 risk factor. Individuals struggling with a co-occurring body dysmorphia and an SUD have a 70% – 86% chance of relapsing. Choosing an inpatient recovery center may help patients achieve results.

Inpatient Rehab For Co-occurring Body Dysmorphia And Addiction Disorder

Inpatient rehabs provide the highest level of treatment with medically supervised detoxification and around-the-clock care. To increase the chance of recovery, patients stay at the clinic with 24-hour medical and emotional support, free of triggers or distractions. The average stay is 30 to 60 days but can last up to 90 days or longer, depending on the patient’s program and need. For patients battling body dysmorphia and addiction, the length of treatment depends on the severity of the addiction, their BDD intensity, and whether they have been in rehab before.

During inpatient rehab, there are several treatment options for Body Dysmorphia and addiction such as:

Inpatient care is safe, highly organized, and free of negative influences. They differ by therapies offered, staff experience, and amenities, yet they all offer the most comprehensive care.

Outpatient Rehabilitation For Co-occurring Body Dysmorphia And Addiction Disorder

Although inpatient rehab is an excellent choice, it may not be doable for everyone; thankfully, outpatient rehabilitation is an option. Outpatient rehabilitation is a good choice for battling a co-occurring body dysmorphia and addiction disorder while dealing with a busy schedule and mild-to-moderate drug withdrawal symptoms. These facilities allow patients to continue working, attend school, or care for their loved ones while in recovery.

Compared to an inpatient program, outpatient facilities are less intensive. The outpatient programs include day or evening partial programs or day or evening intensive outpatient programs (IOP). The time that someone spends in an intensive outpatient program may be 2 to 4 hours per day for 3 to 4 days a week. A partial hospitalization program may require 4 to 6 hours per day for 3 to 5 days per week.  They offer a lot of treatment without residing there. Outpatient rehab offers counseling, medication-assisted treatment, and other programs on a less restricted schedule that can last 3 to 6 months or over a year. They can differ in intensity levels and generally focus on counseling, educating, and providing a network of support for their patients. Most of the treatments are offered early in the morning or evening to avoid interrupting a patient’s daily schedule. These rehab facilities are flexible, affordable, and an excellent part-time option for people recovering from co-occurring body dysmorphia and addiction disorder.

Continuing Co-occurring Body Dysmorphia And Addiction Disorder Treatment

Recovering from co-occurring body dysmorphia and addiction is a steadfast journey that continues after rehab. It is up to the recovering user to maintain and support their sobriety by avoiding old patterns that led to addiction. Once a patient leaves a facility, having reinforcement from long term programs outside of rehabilitation like Narcotics AnonymousCocaine Anonymous, Alcoholics Anonymous, or BDD groups can help them avoid relapse.

Dealing with a simultaneous mental illness and a substance use disorder alone is daunting and feels nearly impossible; however, finding treatment for co-occurring disorders is possible. Regardless of the severity of a person’s symptoms, treatment is available for a person afflicted with co-occurring body dysmorphia and a substance use disorder. Most people with co-occurring body dysmorphia and addiction can be successfully treated.

Find Treatment Services

Are you or a loved one dealing with body dysmorphia or a mental health issue and abusing drugs or alcohol? If you are ready to take the next step towards recovery or would like more information on online therapy options, click here.