Understanding Dual Diagnosis: Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders

When a person has a mental health disorder and a substance use disorder at the same time, it is known as dual diagnosis. Approximately 8.9 million Americans are affected by dual diagnosis each year, yet only 7.4% of them receive appropriate treatment. It is essential to understand the signs and symptoms of dual diagnosis in order to help yourself or a loved one when needed. A person with dual diagnosis has a mental disorder and a problem with alcohol or drugs. About half of people who have a mental disorder will also have substance use disorder at some point in their lives, and vice versa.

Interactions of the two conditions can worsen both. You may have a dual diagnosis if you feel you can't function without using drugs or alcohol. When a mental illness and substance use disorder are happening at the same time, you may feel completely out of place regarding your emotions and behaviors. For example, a person with an anxiety disorder who abuses benzodiazepines may feel that they will not be able to manage their feelings of anxiety without using them. Let your therapist know that you want to be treated for both conditions at the same time. While there is no standard dual-diagnostic intervention, mental health professionals can use best practices to individualize their treatment.

And it's important to work with a therapist who is willing to do it. The signs of a dual diagnosis will depend on the mental health disorder being diagnosed and the drug of choice. For example, if you or a loved one is struggling with marijuana abuse and bipolar disorder, the signs of these problems will be different from those of a patient who has cocaine addiction and has schizophrenia. In particular, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) helps people with dual diagnoses learn how to cope and change ineffective thinking patterns, which can increase the risk of substance use. While the symptoms of dual diagnosis are often separate and unique from each other, for an addicted person or their loved ones, these overlapping disorders can be difficult to identify. Ashish Bhatt explains the importance of accurately diagnosing and treating patients with a dual diagnosis. Telling personal stories of recovery can be one of the most effective ways to reduce stigma and help individuals and families facing challenges related to mental health conditions.

This does not mean that your case is useless. Dual diagnosis is highly treatable when treated properly. Excessive marijuana use, for example, can lead to psychosis in some people; psychosis is a serious mental disorder that causes people to lose touch with reality. You may be struggling with a dual diagnosis if you had symptoms of a mental illness before you started using drugs or alcohol. Therefore, “dual diagnosis in itself is not a diagnosis, but a specific combination of diagnoses.

Treatment for your mental health problem may include medications, individual or group counseling, self-help measures, lifestyle changes, and peer support. If your psychological well-being is dictating your desire to abuse drugs or alcohol, you may have a dual diagnosis. That's why knowing the signs and symptoms of a dual diagnosis is absolutely essential for you to be able to help yourself or a loved one when you need it. Because dual diagnosis is not an exclusive issue for certain individuals, it is an issue faced by many people. A dual diagnosis is the term used to describe the simultaneous presence of a mental health disorder and a substance use disorder. Dual Diagnosis Treatment Centers Can Help People With Concurrent Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders.

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