Dual diagnosis is a condition where someone suffers from a mental health disorder and substance abuse simultaneously. Dual diagnosis is quite common, and it’s estimated that over 7.9 million Americans suffer from it. The reason behind this large number is the lack of treatment for people with mental health disorders. As a result, this concern predisposes these to self medicate with drugs and alcohol.
Dual diagnosis is difficult to diagnose because the symptoms are often overlooked. Besides, it is tough to single out the exact cause of dual diagnosis in every person. However, what’s clear is that those who have some mental disorder tend to be dependent on drugs or alcohol to self-medicate.
When self-medication manifests for an extended period, people become develop substance addiction. The substances become part of their life, requiring them to function ‘normally’ every day. The only treatment is substance addiction therapy.
What Causes Dual Diagnosis?
Excessive use of drugs and alcohol increases the risk of mental health issues and can contribute to dual diagnosis. The reason is that substance abuse isn’t something anyone would be proud of, and often, people struggling with it will try to quit. The shame of their social image and the stigma associated with their addiction can cause mental health issues.
This issue can quickly escalate, driving them over the edge, and subsequently, developing mental health disorders. Besides, those with mental health issues can aggravate the disorder more once they become addicted. When mental disorders grow out of control, substance abuse tends to increase heavily, creating a vicious cycle of dependence.
Other factors that contribute to dual diagnosis are biological, physical, psychological, and environmental factors. These factors are thought to be the leading causes of concurrent mental health disorders and substance addiction.
Biological factors, also known as genetic factors, can cause mental health disorders, substance addiction, or dual diagnosis. A child developing a dual diagnosis, born from parents struggling with mental health disorders and substance addiction, is highly probable. The reasoning behind this is that genetics plays a massive role in the child’s life. How they handle mental health issues or substances in their lives can be dictated by genetics.
The chances of an addicted parent passing on the trait to their children are high. Likewise, the chances of a mental health disorder being passed down to a child are high. During their life, an adult addict’s child is likely to develop signs of substance abuse.
Likewise, mental health disorders are likely to manifest in a child of a parent with mental health disorders. Therefore, biological factors can predispose someone to develop a dual diagnosis, and either the addiction or mental illness can occur first. Whichever occurs first, if left untreated, can eventually lead to dual diagnosis.
Physical factors, such as physical health and financial issues, can also contribute to dual diagnosis. Those diagnosed with terminal diseases such as cancer can quickly develop dual diagnosis if they are not adequately counseled.
Terminal illnesses are life-threatening, and the thought of dying can be daunting, thus predisposing someone to mental health issues. It can also predispose the individual to substance abuse as a method of coping with pain. Without the right support and counseling, either the addiction or mental health issues can lead to dual diagnosis.
Besides, economic hardships and financial issues can contribute to dual diagnosis. Financial problems may ensue after experiencing job loss, and these concerns can lead to mental disorders and substance addiction. Those facing economic hardships tend to abuse drugs in an attempt to ‘escape’ their cruel reality.
If the situation prevails, it can easily lead to dependence and addiction. Addiction contributes largely to mental health issues, leading to dual diagnosis. Likewise, financial problems can lead to depression and other mental health issues, which can easily predispose someone to self-medicate. It also leads to addiction if not checked, contributing to dual diagnosis.
It is common for people with psychological disorders to resort to substance abuse to feel better. This ‘feel better’ concern is often referred to as self-medication. Self-medication leads to addiction because drugs lead to abnormal secretion of neurotransmitters in the brain, making the user feel high. Most people love the feeling, and it can quickly contribute to addiction.
Those with mental issues become addicted because they find a way to escape the pain. They may, therefore, form a habit of resulting in drugs or substances to help ease the mental health disorders, and thereby, they eventually become addicts.
Specific issues, like traumatic events, especially during childhood, can contribute to dual diagnosis. Chronic stress and post-traumatic stress can lead to mental health disorders and addiction.
The reasoning behind environmental factors predisposing someone to dual diagnosis is the need to look for quick fixes. Children exposed to violence, deaths, rape, or other problems can develop trauma. As adults, they can result in drug abuse to “fix” their trauma.
Those experiencing post-traumatic stress (PTSD) such as soldiers, can result in drugs to fix their mental disorders. The same can also be said for those with chronic anxiety. The need to self-medicate, rather than seek professional medical help, contributes to dual diagnosis. Others even result in abusing clinical drugs such as opioids to self-medicate and get quick relief.
What are The Signs and Symptoms of Dual Diagnosis?
Dual diagnosis is a condition affecting millions of people all over the globe. However, it is a condition that is tough to spot, and therefore it can affect anybody unknowingly. Besides, the dual diagnosis being unpredictable, those surrounding the person can also fail to notice. However, there are signs and symptoms of dual diagnosis that might help you identify the condition, which includes:
- Mood swings
- Trouble with the law
- Inability to control emotions
- Withdrawal from family and friends
- Hallucinations and delusions
- Mistrust and paranoia, and secretiveness
- Trouble concentration
- Mental health issues causing substance abuse
- Withdrawal symptoms
What Mental Disorders Are Associated with Dual Diagnosis?
Dual diagnosis is different depending on the co-occurring mental disorder. Some common mental illnesses include anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, trauma/PTSD, OCD, personality disorders, schizophrenia, ADHD, and eating disorders. Each of these mental disorders calls for different methods of treating the underlying condition.
Everyone worries about something, be it our jobs, families, friends, relationships, or finances. Worrying is normal and can be a positive force pushing us to accomplish our goals. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, anxiety disorder is common and manifests in around 3.1 percent of Americans.
People diagnosed with General Anxiety Disorder are likely to use alcohol, opioids, and other drugs to curb anxiety. It can easily lead to dual diagnosis if left untreated.
Depression is expressed by consistently depressed moods, constant worry, and loss of interest in daily activities. People struggling with this issue may lose interest in certain day-to-day activities. It is usual for people with depression to result in substance abuse. They do this to escape the sequence of worry and mood loss they experience in their lives.
Bipolar disorder, also known as manic depression, is characterized by heightened mood swings, reciprocating between lows and highs. The lows are called depression, while the highs are called mania. The affected people will often show signs of extreme happiness or moodiness, which reciprocate regularly. People with this mental disorder can result in substance abuse to avoid bipolar disorder symptoms. If they result in addiction, that can turn to dual diagnosis.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
PTSD is a mental disorder caused by traumatic events. These events can either be experienced or witnessed. The main symptoms of PTSD are nightmares, flashbacks, anxiety, and stress due to uncontrollable thinking. People with PTSD often result in drug and substance abuse in an attempt to curb those symptoms. If left untreated, PTSD combined with drug and substance abuse can lead to dual diagnosis if they are dependent on drugs.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Obsessive-Compulsive disorder is a medical disorder where one has unmanageable, reoccurring thoughts, and compulsions that make them compelled to redo repeatedly. People affected by this condition often urge to take part in repeated actions like hand washing, counting items and organizing.
Engaging in these tasks provides short-term relief, but anxiety comes back soon after stopping the tasks. The affected people may turn to alcohol or drug intoxication to escape the reoccurring, irrational thoughts. If not treated, OCD combined with drug abuse may lead to dual diagnosis if the affected individual gets addicted to the drugs.
A personality disorder is a form of mental illness where the person affected has a fixed and unhealthy style of thinking, behaving, and functioning. A personality disorder may lead to impairment or distress.
The person affected could result in substance abuse as an attempt to control their disorder. Suppose the person affected becomes addicted to drugs, and they do not seek medical assistance. In that case, the personality disorder combined with the drug abuse concern may often lead to dual diagnosis.
Schizophrenia is a mental disorder where the person affected cannot feel, think, and behave correctly. These people tend to interpret reality abnormally. They may feel the need to indulge in substance abuse to curb this disorder. Once addicted to these drugs, Schizophrenia and substance abuse lead to dual diagnosis.
ADHD is a mental condition where the person affected has persistent problems such as hyperactivity, attention difficulty, and impulsiveness. This often results in substance abuse as a means to control the disorder. Once addicted, ADHD, and continued substance abuse lead to dual diagnosis.
How is Dual Diagnosis Treated?
Those showing signs and symptoms of dual diagnosis should seek medical assistance at a substance abuse treatment center. There are several ways to treat dual diagnosis, which include:
Medical detox the first step to treating substance addiction. The main goal of drug and alcohol detox is to manage the withdrawal symptoms. Medical detox is accompanied by a medical professional to make sure the individual is safe and comfortable.
Oftentimes withdrawal symptoms can be a painful and uncomfortable process. Medical detox seeks to alleviate those symptoms and rid toxins from the patient’s body. The length of time in detox depends on the addiction type and how long the individual was addicted.
Residential treatment or inpatient treatment is a therapy process practiced in an institutional environment. Those diagnosed with dual diagnosis are confined to a residential treatment medical environment, where they are treated. It helps patients recover in a safe environment, with a medical professional available 24/7. It is useful and recommended for those with chronic addictions.
Outpatient treatment is for those who are mildly suffering from substance addiction and mental health issues on a reporting basis. Those diagnosed with dual diagnosis visit the hospital, receive the treatment necessary from a medical professional, and then go home. Outpatient treatment is recommended for those on the path to recovery and show low relapsing risks.
Individual therapy involves a session with a professional therapist who counsels the patient on a personal level. Group therapy entails sitting in a group with other peers sharing their experiences. It helps members relate to each other and find strength in one another. They encourage one another, and it allows patients to find solace in that they are not the only ones experiencing some issues.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy is also practiced to help identify the causing factors that influence the user’s substance abuse. It educates patients on what triggers addiction and how to avoid or manage it.
This treatment method entails the use of medicine in the complete treatment plan. Medication-Assisted Treatment is an effective therapy option for dual diagnosis.
Holistic or Alternative Treatment
The holistic treatment option concentrates not only on the disorders but also on the entire person. The addressed elements include emotional, physical, spiritual, and environmental aspects to solve the affected individual’s underlying disorder. This dual diagnosis treatment is aimed at making the affected patient whole.
Get Help Today
We at Behavioral Health Centers have the best dual diagnosis treatment centers in Florida. We have highly trained medical treatment specialists who are committed to providing the best dual diagnosis treatment. Contact us today at Behavioral Health Centers for the best dual diagnosis treatment in Florida.