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Dual Diagnosis

What does Dual Diagnosis Mean?

A person who has a Dual Diagnosis is someone who has both a mental illness and a substance abuse disorder. Either illness can come first. In some cases, a person with mental health issues will turn to alcohol or drugs to try and cope. In other instances, alcohol or drug use can lead to mental illness. Dual diagnosis effects almost 9 million people a year. A person with a mental health condition is two times as likely as a mentally healthy person to suffer from substance abuse.
For someone that has a Dual Diagnosis, it is very important that you treat both the mental illness as well as the substance abuse. If you only treat one, it will act as a merry-go-round, making one condition worse and perhaps, relapsing on the other. It will be a continuous cycle. The old way of thinking where doctors would tell you they couldn’t treat your depression because you are also using drugs and/or alcohol is outdated. Both illnesses need to be attended to.

Conditions that May Co-Occur

There are many disorders that can Co-Mingle together, although some are more common than others. The most common Co-Occurring disorders that are seen with substance abuse are:
• Anxiety disorders
• Eating disorders
• Bipolar disorder
• PTSD
• Personality/mood disorders
• Schizophrenia
• ADHD
In another category, certain mental illnesses “attract” certain substance uses. Some examples includes:
• Bipolar and Alcoholism
• PTSD and Opioids
• ADHD and Alcoholism
• Depression and Cocaine

Signs and Symptoms of Dual Diagnosis

Some common signs and symptoms to look for when trying to determine a Dual Diagnosis include:
• You can’t remember the last time you were happy and drugs and/or alcohol were not involved
• You started drinking and/or using drugs to try and help manage stresses of every day life
• You have experienced trauma in your life
• Mental illness runs in your family

Treating Dual Diagnosis

Dual Diagnosis requires special care to make sure both conditions are being addressed. People can receive this type of treatment through Rehabilitation Facilities that offer treatment for both substance abuse and mental illness. Only treating one problem may put the person at risk for relapse.