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Dual Diagnosis: Double Trouble

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Dual Diagnosis: Double Trouble

Dual Diagnosis and Recovery
Dual Diagnosis and Recovery

Many people struggle with addiction and the problems it causes in their lives. Add a mental illness to the mix and the problems double. Many emotions and behaviors related to addiction are also linked to mental illness, and it is difficult to determine which came first. Is the mental illness causing the addiction or is the addiction causing the mental illness? A person may seek treatment for one condition or the other and see no improvement in either condition.

Common Co-occurring Mental Illnesses

Several mental illnesses are commonly seen occurring with addiction. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) provides mental health professionals with the description and symptoms of these mental illnesses. This helps the mental health professionals diagnose individuals and gives insight on how to treat these disorders. Some of the mental illnesses that occur with addiction include:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Schizophrenia

How Do Mental Illness and Addiction Interact?

The presence of mental illnesses can cause someone to abuse drugs and alcohol. For example, when someone with bipolar disorder has a manic episode, the person feels invincible and engages in risky behavior such as compulsive gambling or shopping excessively.  The manic episode is followed by a depressed episode, leading the person to use drugs and alcohol to numb the emotions or to try to experience the highs of the manic phase again. The mental illness and addiction aggravate each other.

How Common Is Dual Diagnosis?

Many people struggle with both addiction and mental illness. According to research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), 37 percent of individuals abusing alcohol and 53 percent of individuals abusing drugs have at least one mental illness. However, the number of people with both a mental illness and addiction is unknown because many people go without psychological evaluation and treatment.

Obstacles for Diagnosis and Addiction Treatment

There are many reasons that individuals with dual diagnosis may go without proper treatment. Some reasons are:

  • Which Came First? This is a common issue when it comes to dual diagnosis. People who struggle with both addiction and mental illness may not know how to approach treatment. Should they seek treatment for their addiction? Should they work on their mental illness? Many times, the addict may not even know that there is a mental illness present.
  • Misdiagnosis: Some symptoms of different mental illnesses seem similar and may lead to a misdiagnosis. The individual may receive treatment for the wrong disorder. For example, someone who has been on a cocaine binge may appear to be lethargic and depressed but this is just the result of using cocaine for several days straight.
  • Stigmas and Self-Medication: There is a lot of stigma toward people with addictions because they appear to have no willpower or no morals; however, the same criticisms are directed at people with mental illness. Adding the two together makes the stigma even worse for the individual, preventing them from seeking treatment to avoid feeling uncomfortable and ostracized. This can lead to self-medicating with drugs or alcohol, aggravating the existing mental illness.

It is difficult to overcome these obstacles but receiving treatment for dual diagnosis at a rehab center can improve your quality of living.

Moving Forward

Dealing with a dual diagnosis is difficult and can cause many hardships. The best thing is to seek treatment for both addiction and the mental illness at the same time. If you are physically dependent on drugs or alcohol, it is best to go through detox at a detox facility and immediately enter rehab to begin addressing both issues.

Recovery Connection can help link you with the best drug rehab centers that offer a detox program as well as a dual-diagnosis track. Recovery Connection will ensure that you receive the best quality, comprehensive treatment that you deserve.

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