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What is Dual Diagnosis in Addiction Treatment?

woman wondering what is dual diagnosis

What is Dual Diagnosis in Addiction Treatment?

What is dual diagnosis and how does it affect addiction treatment?  Drug and alcohol addiction are complex problems, and often, they involve other issues aside from the chemical dependencies themselves. When a person has both a chemical dependency problem and an emotional or mental problem at the same time, it is referred to as a dual diagnosis. To properly recover, it’s important to treat both problems at the same time. Otherwise, one issue will likely trigger the other to continue.

What is Dual Diagnosis and How Common is It?

Unfortunately, dual diagnosis is quite common. Statistics from the American Medical Association show that as many as 37 percents of all alcohol abusers and 53 percent of all drug addicts have an accompanying mental illness. The reasons for this are complex and depend on the individual situation, but self-medication is one common trigger. When people have mental illness, and for whatever reason, they find themselves unable to get the help they need, they often will turn to drugs or alcohol to help numb the pain they are feeling. If proper support isn’t received over a long enough period, the drug or alcohol use will become a problem on its own.

Which Issue Should be Treated First?

A person with a dual diagnosis requires treatment of both conditions at once. Otherwise, the chances of recovery may be much lower. The ideal way to accomplish this is by checking into a quality inpatient treatment center with professionals on staff who have experience in the area of dual diagnosis. When it comes to the initial detox period, it’s vital to be under professional care. Detoxing off certain substances, such as alcohol, can be very dangerous and should never be attempted without the help of a professional.

What is the dual diagnosis?  A dual diagnosis can involve any mental illness, but some conditions are more common than others. Depressive disorders, such as bipolar disorder or clinical depression, are common alongside drug or alcohol dependency because they tend to lead to self-medication. The same can be said for anxiety disorder, panic disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Other conditions, such as schizophrenia, can sometimes be triggered by certain types of drug use, and therefore they may be present in a dual diagnosis as well.

What are Some Reasons to Choose Inpatient Treatment in Cases of Dual Diagnosis?

There are many important reasons that it’s best to choose inpatient treatment when possible. These goals include:

  • Inpatient Treatment Provides a Safe Environment for Detox

Although the mental side of addiction is perhaps the most powerful and difficult to overcome, there is a physical side as well. The initial phase of detoxing off substances can be very brutal, and as mentioned above, sometimes it can even be dangerous. Being at an inpatient treatment facility will ensure that proper medical care is available at all times, and this can go a long way in making the process easier to handle.

  • Inpatient Treatment Involves Staying Put

The drive to use drugs can be very strong, and even if a person desires to get clean, it can sometimes become overpowering. With inpatient treatment, the person can’t leave and score drugs whenever the addictive drive calls on them. Although staying away from drugs will always continue to be a challenge, remaining in the facility during the initial phases of detox can be very helpful.

  • Inpatient Treatment Creates Structure

Structure is imperative in the life of both recovering addicts and those with mental illnesses. Therefore, for someone with a dual diagnosis, following the daily schedule provided at an inpatient facility can be very helpful. Not only does this structure help people get through the first couple months of their healing process, but it also helps teach healthy lifestyle habits that will be crucial when it comes to remaining sober long term.

  • Inpatient Treatment Provides a Sense of Community

Community is important for any healing, but it can be especially helpful for those recovering from addiction. There are many aspects of community to be found in an inpatient treatment facility, from group therapy sessions to shared meals and recreation time. Being inpatient means being surrounded by others who are going through similar struggles, and having that community can do a lot to help cultivate healing.

What Does the Future Hold?

No matter what the diagnosis, recovery is always possible if the person is willing to make an effort. However, those with a dual diagnosis have a more difficult challenge than most. True recovery takes a commitment to long-term care, proper therapy, and often, changing the lifestyle that one led before going into treatment. If a person goes right back into hanging out with hard-partying friends after leaving inpatient treatment, the chances of relapse will be much higher. Recovering from mental disorders requires surrounding oneself with positive people, and recovering from drug addiction often means changing one’s lifestyle entirely.

What Can Be Done to Support Someone With a Dual Diagnosis?

If you have a friend or relative who is suffering from a substance addiction and an accompanying mental illness, there is a lot you can do to help. The first step is to encourage the person to seek out professional help. The next step is to educate yourself. The more you know about these conditions, the better you will be able to provide support. If you are close with the person, it may be of some benefit to seek out treatment for yourself, as often, those closest to people with substance addiction are enabling the person without even realizing it.

According to the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions, only 13 percent of those suffering from alcohol dependency ever get the professional help they need, which sadly may account for the high probability of relapse with such conditions. However, if a proper method of treatment is chosen, and the right amount of effort is put in, there is a good chance that anyone suffering from a dual diagnosis will be able to go on and live a normal life in the future.  If you are ready to seek treatment and are asking what is dual diagnosis, one of our representatives will be available to give you the answers you need.  Please call today.

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Comments (3)

  1. Rj Reply

    This is a very informative article. I also do beleive that a dual diagnosis is the case very many times, if someone has a problem with a substance addiction, than I am pretty sure it has soemthing to do with an emotionsl problem. I think one comes from the other one. I think that ,any people start using or drinking cause they have some sort of an emotional problem, and they are trying to suppress their feelings, and that is why they are staring to use. Or if they did not have suncha big problem than for sure form using drugs and alcohol they will cause it creates so much bad things in peoples lives. So yes a rehab where they ate trained and professional in both would be the best place to go to.

  2. Elizabeth J Reply

    Hmm, I’ve never considered this before from this perspective. But I do think that they often go hand in hand. I mean, drug addiction can of course be the result of a mental illness. And probably vice versa too. The article is very useful in that it really gives a lot of information on how to know what it is and how it should be handled and what you can do to help your loved one, to get the right help and to get educated yourself as well so you don’t make the situation worse.

  3. Jennifer B. Reply

    I really appreciated the perspective on addiction and dual diagnosis that this article brought forth. To me, dual diagnosis isn’t so much about “mental illness”, as much as it is about helping to understand and address the mental issues that are brought on by addiction. For example, teenagers that are addicted to meth will also display textbooks examples of schizophrenia. But did they have schizophrenia before they started using meth? Unlikely. Very unlikely.

    The problem with drugs though, is that just because one stops taking the drug does not mean that the mental difficulty or trouble that that drug brought with it will also stop. This is why dual diagnosis is so important because it allows people to address both at once. My appreciation goes out to Behavioral Rehabilitation Services for sharing this data. I hope they keep writing articles like this and keeping the populace informed on the key points of addiction. We need more organizations like this one.

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