Dealing with a Dual Diagnosis? Here’s What You Need To Know
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Dealing with a Dual Diagnosis? Here’s What You Need To Know

“Sometimes You Can Find Heaven By Slowly Backing Away From Hell.” – Anonymous

A dual diagnosis (co-occurring disorder) is the presence of a psychiatric disorder along with substance abuse disorder or addiction. If you meet the diagnostic criteria for a mental health disorder and an addiction disorder, you may be classified as a dual diagnosis patient. The most common psychiatric conditions such as anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorder, depression, and borderline personality disorder commonly occur concurrently with addiction. 

Dealing with a substance abuse disorder or alcoholism is never easy, but throw in dual diagnosis, and things become even more complicated. But you are not alone. Here are some facts about co-occurring disorders: 

  • According to a National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 7.9 million people in the U.S. experience both a mental disorder and substance use disorder simultaneously. More than half of those people, 4.1 million to be exact, are men. 
  • Thirty-seven percent of people with alcohol use disorders and 53 percent of people with substance/drug use disorders also have at least one serious mental illness. (National Alliance On Mental Illness).
  • A dual diagnosis can come in many forms and those with a mental health disorder are more susceptible to addiction than the general population. Dual diagnosis can be challenging to tackle, as it is hard to know where specific symptoms first originated. 
  • Those with untreated co-occurring disorders have a greater likelihood of violence, failure to respond to treatment and a higher risk of illness, homelessness, incarceration, and death (NAMI).

Why are substance abuse disorders and addiction so prevalent among those with a mental illness?

  • Imbalances in brain chemistry can predispose some people to both psychiatric disorders and substance abuse.
  • Those suffering from mental health disorders often self-medicate with drugs or alcohol to relieve the symptoms of mental illness.
  • Drug or alcohol abuse can actually aggravate the symptoms of a psychiatric disorder or even trigger a latent mental illness.

Dual Diagnosis and Treatment – The Positive News

Recovering from mental illness is more challenging if you are also battling addiction. Addiction and co-occurring disorders need to be treated in tandem to reach sobriety successfully. If not, the outcome may not be a positive one. When treated for only addiction, those with a co-occurring disorder are likely to stop treatment early or experience a relapse. If you or someone you love is suffering from addiction or substance use disorder and a mental health disorder, get help now. Addiction is isolating, but you are not alone. There is no cure for addiction, but it is treatable, and recovery is possible. To take the first step, contact us today at 1-833-2DAYLIGHT.

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