Dual diagnosis, also known as co-occurring disorder, is exactly what it sounds like. It is when a person is diagnosed with a drug or alcohol problem and one or more mental illness(es). The problem is more common than most realize.
The warning signs of dual diagnosis vary. Since there are many different types of drugs and mental disorders, there is not one definitive list, though there are some common problems people with dual diagnosis may share. You may have dual diagnosis if:
1. Even before your addiction you exhibited signs of anxiety, depression, or bipolar disorder.
2. It is hard to stop your addiction because your anxiety, depression, or any other form of a mental issue grows worse without drugs or alcohol.
3. You find yourself with a new crowd of friends or alienating people altogether.
4. There are periods of extreme emotional highs and then extreme depression.
5. You feel out of control, so you use alcohol or drugs to feel better.
6. You have tried to quit drinking, smoking, or taking drugs, but you have found that you can’t.
7. You have trouble concentrating and often have panic attacks.
8. When trying to quit, you find yourself frequently depressed.
9. A history of addiction or mental illness runs in your family.
10. You often exhibit erratic behavior, irritability, or insomnia.
Many of the symptoms of addiction are also the same as mental illness, so it can be hard to pinpoint whether a loved one is simply suffering from the effects of addiction or if they have a deeper mental illness. If you already know your loved one or friend is diagnosed with mental illness, look for these signs to see if there is also a substance abuse problem.
There are also signs that family and friends can look for if someone they love is suffering from mental illness.
If you suspect a friend or relative may have an undiagnosed mental-health disorder or they may be using drugs or alcohol, it is important to avoid making the person feel like you are ganging up on them. There are some ways to help without making the situation worse.
Co-occurring disorder is often misdiagnosed because the drugs or alcohol can cause symptoms that appear to be psychiatric, but are simply repercussions from addiction or usage.
For example, individuals struggling with addiction often suffer from depression or paranoia. While these are psychiatric problems, often these issues are related to their addiction and not their mental illness. Usually, an individual who is suspected of dual diagnosis will need to become sober for a certain amount of time to allow doctors to determine if the symptoms are caused by drugs or alcohol.
A mental health professional will need to diagnose a mental illness using guidelines provided by the American Psychiatric Association. To get help, a person potentially suffering from co-occurring disorder can contact a local physician, psychiatrist, counselor, psychologist, or therapist for a diagnosis.
Drug or alcohol use can worsen mental health, just as poor mental health can worsen an addiction. People with dual diagnosis are at a disadvantage, because substance-abuse treatment does not often encompass mental illness. Similarly, most mental health treatment facilities do not deal with substance abuse.
However, there are dual diagnosis rehab centers that deal with both disorders, so it is important for an individual to seek out a co-occurring disorder treatment program for the best care.
Since there are so many types of addiction and mental illness, there are also many different types of dual-diagnosis treatment. Treatment will also depend on the severity of the addiction.
Treatment often comes in three steps:
Treatment is continuous and never fully ends — clients will continue to receive care even after they are discharged from a facility, including support meetings, doctor visits, and therapy sessions. While treatment can be more difficult for someone with a co-occurring disorder, rehabilitation is more than possible.
Note: The pictures in this content are being used for illustrative purposes only; and any person depicted in the content, if any, is a model.
Posted on March 14th, 2014 in Blog