Dual Diagnosis: A Common Occurrence
October 6, 2017
At Christians Drug Rehab, we have seen addiction affect people from all walks of life. We know firsthand that addiction, like any form of mental illness, does not discriminate. What’s more, addiction and other forms of mental health disorders often go in tandem. If you struggle with depression, there is a chance that you have been self-medicating your symptoms with drugs or alcohol. A behavior that resulted in a substance use disorder (SUD). Conversely, those of you struggling with addiction may also meet the criteria for any one of a number of mental health conditions.
When the aforementioned scenarios are the case, it is what is known as having a co-occurring disorder or dual diagnosis. They both mean the same thing. If you hear or read either of those word groups, there isn’t a difference. Cases involving more than one mental illness is exceptionally common in the field of addiction medicine. In 2014, there were 7.9 million people in the U.S. who met the criteria for dual diagnosis, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. At that time, more than half (4.1 million) were men.
There is good news and bad news, which is often the case in the field of mental health. Co-occurring disorders are treatable, a recovery is possible. The bad news: if either one of the two conditions is left unaddressed in addiction treatment, the prospects for long-term recovery are slim. Successful treatment outcomes, ones that result in a continuous program of recovery rests on that caveat. Both forms of mental illness must be treated simultaneously.
Dual Diagnosis Treatment
Much of the time, people seeking assistance for SUD’s aren’t even aware they meet the criteria for dual diagnosis. Or have even heard of it, for that matter. Such people enroll in treatment, undergo screening and are surprised to learn they meet the criteria for another condition. Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), persistent depressive disorder (dysthymia) and bipolar disorder are perhaps the most common.
In some cases, clients suspected they had other mitigating factors present. While others were completely unaware. Clients learn quickly that if they are going to achieve lasting recovery, extra work will be required. Treatment specifics will vary on a case-to-case basis. But, in many cases dual diagnosis clients will see a psychiatrist and/or psychologist. Medications may be prescribed to manage the symptoms of the co-occurring disorder. Which, can help facilitate building a stronger foundation for one’s recovery.
General addiction recovery tracts teach clients much about the disease. Various ways to manage cravings and urges. An introduction to the 12 Steps or SMART Recovery. And clients are taught relapse prevention tools. If a client is struggling with the symptoms of another form of mental illness, it will have an impact on one’s retention and prospects for recovery. Not just in treatment, after discharge—more importantly. Treating both the addiction and dual diagnosis is paramount to preventing relapse in the future.
If one’s depression, Et al. is left untreated, they will be prone to resort to self-medication again after treatment. Preventing that, must be, a top priority at any addiction treatment center.
Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW)
During the National Alliance on Mental Illness’ (NAMI) Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW) this year, the organization has several targets. Most importantly, stigma-busting. Societal stigma regarding mental illness is one of the biggest deterrents for people seeking treatment. The better educated the public, the less likely people will be to discriminate. This week NAMI is working to educate people about a number of mental health conditions. Education and encouraging treatment being the end goal. One area that NAMI would like to educate people about is dual diagnosis.
At Christians Drug Rehab, we specialize in the treatment of dual diagnosis. We understand the complex relationship between substance use and mental health disorders. Please contact us to begin your life-long journey of dual diagnosis addiction recovery.