What is Dual Diagnosis?
Dual diagnosis is a condition diagnosed by mental health and addiction professionals and is the name for a case in which a person with a drug or alcohol dependency or substance use disorder is also living with a co-occurring mental health issue. Treating patients with dual diagnoses often requires an integrated continuum of care that combines behavior therapy with psychiatric medication, health care, life skills programs, and long-term support.
Dual diagnosis addresses the often-interconnected roots of addiction and mental illness, leading to a more effective, long-term solution. Without treatment, a person with a dual diagnosis may experience worsening symptoms, job loss, poor health, unsatisfying relationships, serious health risks, and disability, as well as a higher risk of suicide.
Why Substance Use and Mental Health Conditions Co-Occur
When a person with undiagnosed and untreated mental illnesses attempts to self-medicate to rid themselves of uncomfortable symptoms like feeling depressed or anxious, this can make symptoms worsen, and can also inhibit their ability to develop healthy coping mechanisms and the ability to feel comfortable with themselves without substances. This triggers further drug abuse or drinking, behaviors which lead to physical dependency, and then addiction if unchecked.
Certain substances can trigger latent mental illnesses (like drug-induced psychosis), cause neurological damage that may intensify mental illnesses, or can cause new symptoms to arise, and some substances also interfere with prescription medications, inhibiting healing.
Some reasons a co-occurring mental health addiction may occur alongside addiction include:
- A family history of mental illness (especially first-degree family members)
- Chronic stress and anxiety, or a history of trauma
- Drug and alcohol use at an early age
- Genetic predispositions to addiction susceptibility
- Learned responses to fear, stress, or loss that involve substance abuse
- Feeling unsatisfied with life without using drugs or alcohol
- Experiencing trauma (physical or sexual abuse, witnessing a death or tragedy, experiencing war, etc.)
Identifying the Signs of a Dual Diagnosis
Common warning signs of dual diagnosis include:
- Changes in sleep patterns
- Acting recklessly
- Being irritable or angry
- Unexplained euphoria
- Poor performance at work or school
- Withdrawing socially, or only being involved in social activities where drugs and alcohol are involved
- Excessive activity, low hunger
- Difficulty concentrating, forgetfulness
- Extreme worry and unbiased anxiety, fear, or dread
- Hallucinations or delusions
- Depression, feelings of despair or hopelessness
- Dramatic shifts in moods or energy levels
- Lying, stealing, or secretiveness
- Trouble maintaining relationships because of moodiness or behavior
- Experiencing anxiety that is only relieved by certain rituals or behaviors
- Hypervigilance or paranoia
- Shaky hands, sweaty palms, dizziness, shortness of breath
- Suicidal tendencies
- Using drugs or alcohol to cope with any of the above issues
Mental Health Disorders that Commonly Accompany Substance Abuse
People who have a comorbid mental illness along with addiction are most often diagnosed with having:
- Major depression
- Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
- Bipolar disorder
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Borderline personality disorder (BPD)
- Obsessive-Compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Attention deficit or hyperactivity disorder (ADD/ADHD)
- Eating disorders
People may turn to substances to experience artificial joy, remove anxiety in social situations, manage mood swings, avoid debilitating thoughts and feelings, and escape. Dual diagnosis can help with both mental health and addiction issues at the same time, breaking the cycle of abuse.
Dual Diagnosis Treatment at Serenity Oaks
At Serenity Oaks wellness center, we offer a customized dual diagnosis treatment program for those living with mental health disorders and substance use disorders, treating them simultaneously, in an integrated approach to healing. In our dual diagnosis plans:
- Medication may be prescribed to tackle mental illness and drug addiction
- You will have behavioral treatments like cognitive behavioral therapy, multidimensional family therapy, motivational interviewing, and motivational incentives
- We offer non-traditional treatments like yoga, meditation, nutrition classes, and life skills classes for a whole-patient approach
Many times, the underlying mental health issue is the cause of addiction, and with our customized combinations of behavioral therapy and counseling, peer support, group therapy, medical detox programs, residential inpatient programs, partial hospitalization programs, and intensive outpatient programs, our client’s lives are transformed for the better. For more information on dual diagnosis treatments at Serenity Oaks, contact our team today. We can help you take back control over your life.
— Serenity Oaks (@Serenity_Oaks_) May 16, 2022