Mental illness and addiction are two of the most prominent health issues in the United States. An individual facing any of these has different experiences to share. While the conditions usually strike people independently, these can also occur at the same time in an individual. Such co-existence of two conditions is referred to as a co-occurring disorders.
Co-occurring disorders, also known as dual diagnosis or comorbidity, is a state in which an individual experiences a mental illness, such as depression and bipolar disorder, along with an addiction to a substance, like alcohol or drugs. Diagnosing co-occurring disorders is often difficult as the symptoms of one condition might overlap with another. A few common symptoms observed in individuals with dual diagnosis include, withdrawal from friends and family, behavioral changes and increased dependence on drugs or alcohol.
Dual diagnosis can occur in any combination of mental health disorder and substance addiction, such as cocaine addiction and major depressive disorder, and alcohol addiction and schizophrenia. However, a few combinations are more commonly seen in people diagnosed with dual diagnosis. The most common co-occurring disorders are discussed below:
- Schizophrenia and marijuana addiction
Schizophrenia is a mental disorder that impacts an individual’s thinking ability, behavior and makes him behave in socially unacceptable ways. While it has been observed that people who are addicted to marijuana experience psychotic symptoms, such as hallucinations, the debate around the link between marijuana addiction and schizophrenia has always kept the researchers busy. Certain studies suggest that marijuana tends to trigger schizophrenia in those who are already at the risk of developing the mental illness, whereas another segment talks about adults at risk of developing the mental illness if they used cannabis during their adolescence.
- Anxiety disorder and cocaine addiction
Cocaine is a powerful drug with a number of mental health effects in an individual. As the drug makes an individual feel elated on consumption, its continued use can lead to the development of anxiety symptoms, like insomnia and violence. It has been found that cocaine causes severe anxiety not only in those who suffer from anxiety, but also in people who do not have the disorder. Co-existence of an anxiety disorder and cocaine addiction is also seen when some people turn to the addictive drug to deal with their anxiety.
- PTSD and opioid addiction
Post-traumatic stress disorder is a mental disorder that develops in an individual upon facing or experiencing a traumatic event like death or sexual assault in the past. An individual with PTSD might need opioids to address pain, stress and anxiety associated with the disorder which often results in continued use of the medications. Prolonged use of opioids in turn leads to increased stress fueled by feeling of losing control over one’s life. The blend of these two conditions is quite common in American adults.
- Major depressive disorder and heroin addiction
Major depressive disorder is characterized by the feeling of sadness, hopelessness and low energy. People who struggle with depression often turn to heroin use for the euphoric rush the drug provides which helps them escape the feelings of hopelessness. Heroin consumption induces a temporary state of sedation in abusers, however, the symptoms of depression tend to worsen once the impact of heroin is gone.
- ASPD and alcohol addiction
Antisocial personality disorder (ASPD), also known as dissocial personality disorder (DPD) and sociopathy, is a condition in which an individual disregards others and does not feel guilty for his behavior. Most people with ASPD abuse alcohol as well as drugs, and conversely, many with substance abuse problems often exhibit signs of ASPD.
Recovery road map
Treating mental health disorder and substance addiction separately can’t cure the co-occurring disorders. It is essential to treat both the conditions at the same time, as treating only one paves the way for the untreated condition to relapse. Thus, an integrated treatment that can cater to both the disorders is always the answer.
The treatment for each individual diagnosed with dual diagnosis is different. Rehabilitation centers, detoxification, medications and psychotherapy are few of the common ways that help an individual recover from a complex condition like dual diagnosis.
If you or someone you know is struggling with a mental disorder and addiction to some substance, the Florida Dual Diagnosis Helpline can help. You may call us at our 24/7 helpline number 866-337-7631 or chat online with our experts to know about the best dual diagnosis treatment centers in Florida.