Select Page

What Is Dual Diagnosis?

You may have read or heard that addiction may be started from a person’s efforts to self-medicate a mental illness. While it may not always be the case, there is some truth in the statement. A dual diagnosis means that a person is struggling with not only mental illness but a substance abuse disorder.

How Does It Occur?

It is not uncommon for someone to try to self-treat or self-medicate a mental illness. Someone experiencing depression may try to “lighten the mood” with alcohol or drugs, while others may use them to feel more normal. Some may try to calm racing thoughts with substances. When the use of those substances interferes with normal activities, such as the ability to work or to interact with friends or family, that is a clear indication of substance abuse disorder.

NAMI reports that the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health documented 9.2 million adults were fighting both drug addiction and mental illness in the past year. Co-occurring disorder, or comorbidity, are also terms used to describe someone who is diagnosed with two or more coexisting mental illness and addiction diagnoses. Possible reasons for co-occurring disorders are:

  • Predisposition – multiple genetic factors may cause a likelihood of developing overlapping disorders
  • Environmental triggers – physical or sexual abuse, stress and frequent exposure at an early age to substances

Treatment

The good news is that there is treatment for co-occurring disorders. Both mental health and substance abuse typically require two different treatment protocols, making it a challenge to treat effectively. However, mental health and addiction treatment is more effective when care is integrated. Integrated Dual Diagnosis Treatment is one of the modalities used to treat both illnesses.

The multi-disciplinary approach can address each illness at the same time and show how and why they co-exist. When one is left untreated, the symptoms of the other can become more pronounced. Finding the right treatment can mean managing both disorders to live a productive and functional life.

Treatment may include therapy, support groups and medication. The medications are important for treating the illness and are not addictive substances that will cause dependence. They will, however, have to be taken consistently, and will likely take several weeks to be fully effective. Taking a physician-prescribed drug to treat dual diagnosis does not mean that you are no longer clean or sober, as they are treating the chemical imbalance in a healthy, measured and controlled way.

If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction, contact Clean Recovery Centers for help.

 

Sources:

Healthy Distractions in Recovery

One of the most important steps in recovery is taking care of yourself. Regaining your life is more than returning to daily routines. It is important to discover personal interests that build confidence and self-esteem and make you feel good about life. Healthy...

13 Strategies To Help With Insomnia During Substance Withdrawal

Recovery from addiction brings uncomfortable physical and psychological symptoms. If you're on this journey and experiencing withdrawal symptoms, you may notice that you have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep at night. In fact, a 2014 study published in the...

Beware of the Kindling Effect

The kindling effect occurs when a person goes through repeated alcohol withdrawals, and the symptoms become more severe with each relapse. The name is derived from materials used to start a fire. The more kindling added the fire burns hotter and faster. The same is...

Talking to Children About Mom’s Addiction

Having someone in the family who suffers from addiction to drugs and/or alcohol can be very painful for all concerned. But in can be even more difficult if the person suffering is a mother with young children.Children may see their mother act out in all sorts of...

Drug Abuse and Heart Health

The heart is the largest muscle in the body. It is responsible for pumping blood throughout the body, while the blood delivers oxygen and vital nutrients that people require to stay healthy. When there is a problem with the heart, the rest of the body suffers as well....

Is Drug Addition Hereditary? Understanding Your Risk Factors

Blue eyes, curly hair, and how you perceive the taste of cilantro: These are all physical traits that can be linked to genetics. Can addiction be linked specifically to a person’s genome in the same way? The short answer is yes, but as you may have guessed, the...

Cigarette Smoking and Drug and Alcohol Addiction

For whatever reason, and it may have to do a lot with addictive personalities, many addicted to drugs or alcohol smoke cigarettes. Obviously, this is not healthy, but alcohol drinking and addictive drug use is far worse. There are different philosophies in the...

What is the Best Way to Love an Addict?

Loving someone in active addiction to alcohol or drugs can be extremely difficult. The pain that the suffering addict inflicts on themselves and others can be indescribable. Hurt feelings and worse abound. The suffering addict, with little control over what they do or...

Addiction – Is Tough Love Required?

Being addicted to alcohol or drugs is not only devastating to the person suffering from it. The disease of addiction is also devastating to all those concerned - parents, spouses, children, other family and friends and employers. The person in active addiction will...

How a Parent’s Love Can Hurt the Addict

Addiction is a devastating disease. Like a raging tornado, suffering addicts typically destroy almost everything and everyone they touch, including family and friends. Parents of young adults and adolescents often suffer the most. They blame themselves, asking...