The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that one in five Americans experiences a mental disorder or illness at one point. Moreover, one in 25 Americans has a severe mental illness, like major depression, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder.
Substance abuse is another serious problem affecting about 46.3 million people over 12. Unfortunately, mental health and substance abuse often feed off each other.
For most people, drugs relieve untreated mental illnesses, leading to addiction. This phenomenon is referred to as dual diagnosis.
What is Dual Diagnosis?
Dual diagnosis is the presence of both a mental health issue and a substance use disorder. Although the two conditions are distinct and separate, one often adversely affects the other. Moreover, either condition can develop first and cause the other.
There are numerous forms of substance addiction, including:
• Prescription drug addiction
• Alcohol addiction
• Opioid addiction
• Heroin addiction
Likewise, many forms of mental health conditions can occur with addiction. They include:
• Post-traumatic stress
• Generalized anxiety disorder
• Obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Dual diagnosis may also be called comorbid disorders or co-occurring disorders. Fortunately, people with the two conditions can effectively manage them with the proper co-occurring disorder treatment.
What Conditions Qualify as Dual Diagnosis?
Dual diagnosis consists of a wide variety of co-existing disorders. Here are the most common dual-diagnosis disorders:
Alcohol Addiction and Depression
Alcoholism and depression often co-occur. It is hard to determine which shows up first since the two conditions significantly worsen each other’s symptoms.
Depression causes feelings of hopelessness and sadness, which influences how people act and think. Because of this, people with depression are more likely to abuse alcohol to suppress it. Unfortunately, using alcohol to relax and escape reality leads to a more severe problem.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Methamphetamine Abuse
PTSD is a mental illness associated with intense, disturbing feelings and thoughts. Serious accidents, sexual or physical abuse, traumatic events at work, and witnessing or experiencing life-threatening events can cause PTSD.
People with PTSD seek numerous ways to cope with the condition. Thus, they are three times more likely to abuse drugs, and most turn to methamphetamine.
Schizophrenia and Marijuana Use
Schizophrenia is a mental disorder that causes its victims to interpret reality abnormally. It can result in delusions, hallucinations, and disordered thinking and behavior. These symptoms impair daily functioning and require lifelong treatment.
Several studies have associated marijuana use with psychiatric disorders, including depression and schizophrenia. Moreover, using marijuana worsens the symptoms of schizophrenia.
Anxiety and Opioid Use Disorder
Opioids are drugs used for pain relief and sedation. Prescription opioid use increases the risk of developing depression and anxiety. Furthermore, using these drugs may worsen the symptoms of anxiety.
Conversely, people with anxiety are more likely to abuse opioids because of their sedative effects.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Alcoholism
ADHD is often diagnosed during childhood or teenage years. But there are many cases when it is undiagnosed until it appears as behavior leading to alcoholism.
Therefore, ADHD and alcohol abuse are commonly found together. Moreover, one of the two conditions may worsen the symptoms of the other.
What is Dual Diagnosis Treatment?
Dual diagnosis treatment or co-occurring disorder treatment is treating a substance abuse problem and a mental health disorder simultaneously. It may involve medication, in-patient care, behavioral therapy, and support groups.
During treatment, professionals will treat symptoms of a mental health condition and addiction to drugs and alcohol. Patients work with their healthcare providers to determine how the two conditions affect each other. This will help to choose the best and most effective treatment option.
For a dual diagnosis to be successful, the patient must stop taking the addictive substance. Then they are placed on a detoxification program where healthcare providers monitor them for 24 hours daily for about a week. They will help reduce the effects of withdrawal and wean off the substance.
Depending on numerous factors, dual diagnosis treatment may include:
• Behavioral therapy: Therapies that treat co-occurring disorders include:
• Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): CBT helps the patient cope with the treatment and change undesirable thinking patterns.
• Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT): DBT helps decrease self-harm behaviors, such as suicidal thoughts and drug use.
• Medication: The medical professional may prescribe medicine for both or one of the conditions.
• Support groups: This is one of the best ways to provide the patient with social and emotional support.
• In-patient care: Living in a dual diagnosis treatment center ensures the patients receive the right therapies, medication, and support. In-patient care is ideal for patients with a pattern of dependency on substance use.
When to Get Help for Dual Diagnosis
A dual diagnosis is a combination of diagnoses – a substance use disorder and a mental health disorder. Thus, diagnosing may be challenging for a physician because the two conditions’ symptoms overlap. Co-occurring disorder treatment is necessary if certain signs and symptoms are present.
Here are some signs to look out for:
• Using drugs to escape psychological issues
• History of mental illness or mental illness runs in the family
• Suicidal thoughts, violent behavior, and delusional thoughts occur during drug withdrawal
• Lack of ability to function without alcohol or drugs
• Social isolation
• Poor school or work performance
• Poor hygiene
Benefits of Dual Diagnosis Treatment
Dual-diagnosis treatment offers numerous benefits, including the following:
• Improves mental health: Seeking treatment for both substance abuse and mental health helps improve mental health more than seeking treatment for one condition.
• Improves physical health: People with dual diagnosis are more likely to injure themselves. Moreover, substance abuse adversely affects their physical health.
• Increases the success of recovery: Treating both mental and substance abuse disorders increase the chances of recovery more than treating one of the conditions. Moreover, co-occurring disorder treatment involves various techniques that increase the probability of success.
• Improves quality of life: The patients understand more about their body, mind, and the effects of substance abuse. Therefore, they can make the right decisions concerning their lives.
Mental illnesses and substance abuse are closely linked. Moreover, one may worsen the other’s symptoms. Fortunately, a dual diagnosis can be managed effectively with the right treatment.
Contact us today for a consultation on dual diagnosis treatment.