Dual diagnosis is a term used to describe a person with both a mental health disorder and a substance use disorder. Common risk factors that can contribute to both mental disorders and substance use disorders include genetics, stress, and trauma. People with mental disorders may use drugs or alcohol to temporarily try to feel better, which can lead to a dual diagnosis. Dual diagnoses are associated with financial problems, employment problems, housing problems, and legal issues.
Treatment centers that specialize in dual diagnosis must be trained in this area and provided with appropriate education and learning opportunities. Research has shown that the brain chemical dopamine is involved in both addiction and certain mental illnesses and could contribute to a dual diagnosis. Both disorders have overlapping health consequences, and a dual diagnosis of both conditions indicates that a person is at increased risk of developing various diseases. To properly treat a dual-diagnosed patient, each disorder must be accurately diagnosed and treated separately.
The groups most at risk of developing a dual diagnosis are those with lower economic status, military veterans, and those who are predisposed to mental illness. Mental health and alcohol and other drugs services must be able to respond to the needs of people with dual diagnosis. At a dual-diagnosis treatment center, you get help for substance abuse while dealing with underlying mental health problems. Flowers Health Institute is an example of a treatment center that offers a wide range of services for people with co-occurring disorders and dual diagnoses. It is important for people to understand the risk factors associated with dual diagnosis so they can seek help if needed.
While there are services available to treat a dual diagnosis, the behavioral health community has not always recognized people with this condition.