What You Should Know About Dual Diagnosis

What You Should Know About Dual Diagnosis

What You Should Know About Dual Diagnosis

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How Common Is A Dual DiagnosisPhiladelphia, PA - A person who has substance use issues is likely to have a mental health disorder. Sadly, the interplay of both conditions can make it challenging for an individual to recover, often resulting in a less favorable outcome. A person with a dual diagnosis may face an array of issues. Knowing these issues may be the key to proper treatment and recovery.


How Common Is A Dual Diagnosis? 

Individuals struggling with mental health disorders and substance use have been increasing. According to a source, those diagnosed with mental health conditions have a higher chance of developing a substance use disorder. Individuals suffering from anxiety or mood disorders may likely suffer from substance use issues. Depending on the circumstances, a person with a dual diagnosis may resort to alcohol, drugs, or both.    



Co-occurring disorders cause a person to experience both substance abuse and mental health problems, each of which will manifest as a separate set of symptoms. Sadly, once they start manifesting, they're likely to disrupt various aspects of your normal routine, such as your ability to function at work or school, maintain relationships, or handle challenges in life. 

In most cases, if a mental health condition is overlooked or left untreated, it may worsen the substance use disorder. In the same way, if the substance use disorder progresses, the severity of the mental health condition worsens. Nowadays, various dual diagnosis treatment options are available if a person suffering from substance use disorder is likely to have an accompanying disorder.  



Reasons For Co-Occurring Disorder To Develop In Some Individuals 

Healthcare experts have struggled to understand the question for years. Currently, several factors may contribute to a dual diagnosis. The three main factors are genetics, premature drug exposure, and traumatic life experiences, which frequently overlap and occur throughout a person's lifetime.

Most people are curious about which disorder—a mental health disorder or a substance use problem—develops first. The uncontrolled use of substances often predisposes an individual to create a mental issue. In one scenario, a person may experience depression after their relationships or career suffer due to substance abuse. On the flip side, a person with a mental health illness is prone to substance abuse. For instance, an anxious person might feel compelled to use alcohol or drugs to relax.



The best way to know which disorder developed first is to seek help from healthcare professionals. Finding the underlying cause will be crucial to a person's recovery.

Indications Of A Dual Diagnosis

Recognizing a dual diagnosis can be challenging. In most cases, it takes time to distinguish between a substance addiction and a mental health disorder, as the indications in each may vary. Here are some of the general warning indications that a person may have a co-occurring condition:   

  • The need to use substances to function: A person may use drugs or alcohol to cope with unpleasant feelings or memories, manage pain, focus on tasks, or face difficult situations. 
  • Connection between substance use disorder and mental health: A person may drink if feeling anxious or depressed after a drinking session.  
  • Family history: A study published in the National Library of Medicine shows that 31.3% of the participants had a first-degree family member who suffered from substance use disorder. While according to VeryWellMind.com, certain mental health conditions are strongly tied to a person's genetics. Examples of this are Schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, which are found to be heritable by 64% and 59%, respectively.
  • Imbalanced feelings: A person may still feel anxious or depressed even in a sober state. 
  • Previously dealing with substance use or mental health disorder: A person may be unable to recover from substance abuse due to complications that stem from a mental health issue or vice versa. 

As you can see, it can be challenging to determine if a person has a dual diagnosis, which is why consulting a healthcare professional is the next best move.  

Management For A Dual Diagnosis  

The ideal treatment for co-occurring disorders will require an integrated approach in which both the substance use issue and mental condition are addressed simultaneously.  

Long-term recovery greatly depends on effective treatment for both disorders, regardless of whether substance abuse or a mental health condition first manifests. Generally, the treatment often targets the common symptoms of both disorders, such as impulse management or melancholic mood. 

Depending on an individual's specific issues, a healthcare professional will create a particular plan of treatment for the mental health problem and substance use disorder. Managing the mental health condition typically involves medications, self-help education, peer support, individual or group counseling, and lifestyle changes. The treatment plan for the substance use disorder may include detoxification, behavioral therapy, management of withdrawal symptoms, and support groups to maintain sobriety.   

While a person undergoes treatment for a dual diagnosis, it's essential to maintain a positive mindset. Remember that both substance use and mental health conditions are treatable. Treatment for co-occurring disorders will take time, dedication, and patience, but recovery is achievable. 

Additionally, relapse will be part of the recovery. A person shouldn't end up disheartened if a relapse occurs. Setbacks can occur at some point, but most people can bounce back and continue on the path to sustained recovery.

How To Find The Right Treatment Program  

The right treatment program for a dual diagnosis can significantly impact your long-term recovery. That said, it's best to find a licensed and accredited program that offers a variety of evidence-based therapies. Moreover, another factor to consider in an aftercare program is to reduce the risk of relapse. You also need to know if a program specializes in the mental health issue you're experiencing. Today, treatment facilities utilize various approaches, but some of the crucial basics of effective treatment to keep in mind include the following:  

  • A treatment program that deals with both substance use disorder and mental health problems. 
  • The program includes counseling and basic education about your disorder along with other related issues you have.  
  • Active involvement in decision-making and creating goals, and developing strategies for change. 
  • Teaching sessions that focus on healthy coping skills and strategies to lessen the chances for relapse, strengthen relationships and cope with stressors and challenges in life.  

Finding the right treatment program is the key to long-term recovery. With patience and dedication, you'll be able to stay on track to get your life back. 

Final Thoughts  

A person with a dual diagnosis of substance use disorder and another mental health condition brings several challenges to everyone involved. A dual diagnosis can make the treatment process more challenging, but understanding and education can make the complex condition manageable and ensure a clear path to recovery. Ultimately, it’s best to seek professional help to further understand dual diagnosis.

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