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Comorbid psychiatric disorders and substance use disorder may manifest themselves in varying degrees

There is always a possibility of substance use disorder and mental health illnesses to occur simultaneously which is commonly known as dual diagnosis. Though either one of them may appear first, the need for diagnosing both of them becomes a necessity for the overall health of an individual. For example, a mental disorder may not be diagnosed until the symptoms have increased to a certain specified level. Therefore, establishing the causality or directionality of both the disorders are not at all easy. Still, three scenarios deserve attention in which probably each contributes in varying degrees to how specific comorbidities could manifest themselves:

·         People who abuse drugs experience one or more symptoms of another mental illness, such as those abusing marijuana are at an increased risk of witnessing psychosis.

·         Individuals with overt, mild or even subclinical mental disorders may abuse drugs as a form of self-medication. For example, the use of tobacco products by patients with schizophrenia alleviate the symptoms of the disease and improve cognition. Thus, mental illnesses trigger substance abuse.

·         The risk factors of substance use disorder (SUD) and mental illnesses overlap, such as underlying brain deficits, genetic vulnerabilities and/or early exposure to stress or trauma, which is the primary reason behind the coexistence of disorders.

Since psychiatric disorders increase susceptibility to SUD, it is essential to ensure effective treatment of mental disorders to curtail substance abuse tendencies.

Understanding the close relationship between mental health and drug addiction

Those who suffer from mental illness are likely to experience grave consequences, particularly when they are also abusing substances like drugs, alcohol, etc. One condition aggravates the symptoms of the other to the detriment of the individual. Many patients turn to drugs and alcohol to quell their negative feelings of hopelessness, lack of motivation, fear of public situations, depression, etc. arising from mental health issues. This only worsens the existing mental condition. Moreover, the use of illicit substances to manage mental disorders increases the risk of addiction and thereby causes compulsive, self-destructive behavior that can affect all areas of one’s life.

The data compiled by the National Mental Health Association (NMHA) shows that the following psychiatric disorders are most likely to be at risk of triggering the problem of substance abuse:

·         Antisocial personality disorder increases the risk of substance abuse by 15.5 percent.

·         Manic episode increases the risk by 14.5 percent.

·         Schizophrenia increases the risk by 10.1 percent.

·         Panic disorder increases the risk by 4.3 percent.

·         Clinical depression increases the risk by 4.1 percent.

Similarly, people who have an addiction are also prone to develop mental disorders. Symptoms of depressive mood, social withdrawal, anxiety, impaired social functioning etc. are common in people with addiction. But sometimes, identifying the underlying mental disorder becomes very difficult because of the similarity in the symptoms and consequences of addiction and mental illness.

As a result, the urgency for treating both the conditions grows exponentially as treatment of one without the other would not allow for complete recovery of the patient. Moreover, patients with co-occurring disorders may be processing neurotransmitters, such as dopamine and serotonin, differently than the general population. These imbalances may increase the vulnerability to addiction and mental disorders.

Overcoming co-occurring diseases now easier via integrated treatment

The treatment for dual diagnosis must target both mental health condition and substance abuse to cause effective and lasting results. The latest trends in dual diagnosis treatment have made it possible for individuals suffering from co-occurring disorders to create their lives the way they truly want. The sooner the individual receives treatment for co-occurring disorders, the greater are the chances of a successful recovery.

If you or your loved one is suffering from such a co-occurring disorder or dual diagnosis, contact the Florida Dual Diagnosis Helpline. Call us at our 24/7 helpline number 866-337-7631 or chat online with our experts to get details about the finest dual diagnosis treatment facilities in Florida. They will also help you in finding the best rehab programs in Florida where such problems are managed through holistic treatment plans.

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