Dual diagnosis is a condition where someone suffers from a mental illness 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 those affected 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 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 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 issues if they don’t seek mental health treatment.
This issue can quickly escalate, driving them over the edge, and subsequently, developing mental illnesses once they become addicted. When 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 disorders and substance addiction.
Biological factors, also known as genetic factors, can cause substance addiction or dual diagnosis. A child developing a dual diagnosis, born from parents struggling with 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 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 illnesses are likely to manifest in a child of a parent with such disorders. Therefore, biological factors can predispose someone to develop a dual diagnosis, and either the addiction or disordercan 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 disorders. 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 issues that lead to dual diagnosis. Likewise, financial problems can lead to depression and other concerns of mental illnesses, 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 disorders 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), can turn to drugs in an attempt 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 Disorders?
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:
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 disorders calls for different methods of treating the underlying condition.
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:
Drug and Alcohol Detox
Medical detox is 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 a safe, comfortable and supervised environment. 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 dual diagnosis 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 and Group Therapy
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.
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.
The Essential Guide to Best Dual Diagnosis Treatment
An alcohol or drug addiction rarely appears out of the blue. Most people with addictions do not simply choose to continue abusing drugs or alcohol without a reason for doing so. Oftentimes, pre-existing mental illnesses cause, contribute to or exacerbate a person’s addiction. The consumption of drugs or alcohol can also cause, contribute to or worsen an individual’s psychological conditions. When addiction and mental disorder exist simultaneously, it is referred to as a dual diagnosis or a co-occurring disorder. Any person struggling with both these problematic conditions requires specialized dual diagnosis care administered by qualified trained professionals.
If you or a loved one are experiencing signs of dual diagnosis or co-occurring disorders, please call 772-774-3872.
What is Dual Diagnosis?
While it didn’t always have an official term or named condition, mental illnessesand substance abuse have been linked for decades. Dual diagnosis can range from a person abusing drugs to cope with a preexisting disorder like depression, to someone who developed disorder as a result of using a specific drug over an extended period. No matter what the reason for substance abuse is, it has been conclusively proven that drugs and alcohol only make symptoms of psychological illnesses worse and can also lead to the development of other mental concerns. 
Being that both mental disorder and addiction primarily affect the brain, both conditions play off of each other, and the existence of one makes the occurrence of the other more likely. Symptoms of dual diagnosis vary widely due to there being a virtually endless amount of potential combinations. Here are some common symptoms to look for:
Dual Diagnosis Treatment at Behavioral Health Centers
We set ourselves apart at Behavioral Health Centers by offering a combination of treatments and therapies designed to help break the cycle of mental illness and addiction. We understand that dual diagnosis patients face enormous struggles with both substance abuse and symptoms of one or more psychological disorders. Our understanding uniquely positions us to treat patients with co-occurring disorders.
Each of our patients receive a personalized treatment plan that focuses on his or her specific obstacles to recovery. Our Dual Diagnosis Treatment Includes:
The patient undergoes withdrawal during this period, either tapering off of the substance that he or she is dependent on or abruptly stopping its use.
Life Skills Training
It’s critical that dual diagnosis patients be taught how to function in everyday society without the aid of drugs and/or alcohol. Treatment at UBH includes preparation for reentry into the “real world.”
Just as dual diagnosis patients have to understand how addiction andmental disordersfeed off of one another, it’s equally important that family members understand what their loved one is dealing with. Our family program brings siblings, spouses, parents and children closer together.
Mental Health Expertise
A large portion of addiction patients have been dealing with undiagnosed mental illness for years. Our psychiatry services not only provide valuable insights into our patients’ mental health, but also helps them understand how to manage and treat their conditions better.
Used to blunt the effects of withdrawal or to help treat and manage symptoms of mental illnesses
Dual diagnosis treatment at Behavioral Health Centers begins with a compassionate, medically supervised detox and mental assessment. We then blend holistic remedies with group and individual counseling, psychological services, physical therapy and a traditional 12-step process. Each of our patients receive a personalized treatment plan that focuses on his or her specific obstacles to recovery.
Every patient is different, as is their journey to addiction and rehab. Some may have resorted to drug and alcohol abuse to help deal with symptoms of depression. Others may unknowingly be struggling with undiagnosed schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. No matter what your specific needs are, our mission is to find the dual diagnosis treatment strategy that will most effectively address them.
Help is just a phone call away for you or a loved one who may have a mental illness and is simultaneously self-medicating with drugs or alcohol. Contact our addiction care experts and specialists who will craft a custom rehab program tailored for your specific dual diagnosis treatment needs. You can learn more about our programs or begin rehab by calling us at 772-774-3872.