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Five things to know about dual diagnosis

Five things to know about dual diagnosis

Dual diagnosis can be perilous because the co-occurring disorders of substance abuse and mental health condition affect an individual simultaneously. A person can suffer from different combinations of dual diagnosis, such as alcoholism and depression, opiate addiction and anxiety disorder, cocaine addiction and social anxiety disorder, etc.

Each set of disorders can be detrimental to an individual as it worsens the health condition significantly. Therefore, it is important to understand a few things about dual diagnosis:

  1. Dual diagnosis is multi-faceted

Dual diagnosis is the presence of both mental illness and a substance use disorder. Any combination of mental illness (anxiety disorder, depression, bipolar etc.) and addiction (alcohol, drugs, gambling, etc.) can affect an individual.

  1. Dual diagnosis is not a rare phenomenon 

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), about a third of all people experiencing mental illnesses and about half of people living with severe mental illnesses experience substance abuse. Moreover, about a third of all alcohol abusers and more than half of all drug abusers experience a mental illness.

  1. People with mental illness are more prone to addiction

Coping with mental illnesses can be difficult. To find solace, a person tries to abuse alcohol or drugs. However, they gradually get addicted to substances, which worsen the symptoms of mental illness. For example, individuals suffering from depression may turn to substance abuse in search of a calmer self. People suffering from anxiety disorders, bipolar, schizophrenia and other mental conditions are likely to form addictive habits.

  1. Integrated treatment is the best dual diagnosis treatment

It does not matter which problem came first – mental health issue or substance abuse disorder. Recovery depends on treating both the disorders. Traditionally, mental health and substance abuse problems were treated separately. However, the best treatment for co-occurring disorders is an integrated treatment approach where both the substance abuse problem and the mental disorder are treated simultaneously.

  1. Dual diagnosis treatments involve relapse prevention

Relapse can be prevented if both the disorders are treated properly in a phased manner. An integrated dual diagnosis treatment program also includes a thorough relapse program that educates patients about signs of relapse, steps to address the challenges faced during the recovery process and ways to adapt when exposed to the real world after a controlled-facility treatment.

Path to recovery

There can be three possible sub-groups of dual diagnosis patients:

  • Those with a primary psychiatric disorder with a secondary substance misuse problem
  • People who have a primary substance abuse disorder along with a secondary psychiatric disorder
  • Both the substance abuse and mental disorder issues as the primary problems

Whatever be the type of dual diagnosis, only a cohesive treatment program can cure it. The treatment can be combination of detoxification, pharmacological treatments, and psychotherapies. Since dealing with dual diagnosis can be challenging, support groups can allow members to share their experiences with other allied patients, can give tips to adapt to tough situations, and help with the required motivation to recover.

If you or your loved one is suffering from co-occurring disorders, you may contact the Florida Dual Diagnosis Helpline to seek relevant information. Our qualified representatives can hear your grievances and recommend the best recovery program for you in a reliable treatment facility. You can chat online or call us at 866-337-7631 for more information.