Understanding the Challenges of Dual Diagnosis

People with a dual diagnosis have a greater risk of relapse or long-term maladaptive behaviors, even after treatment. This is due to the fact that they may focus on treating one aspect of a psychological problem or addiction without considering the anxieties, trauma, or thinking patterns that underlie the behavior. As such, dual-diagnosis cases require more comprehensive treatment than typical cases of substance abuse. It is essential that those struggling with dual diagnoses seek help immediately and find a treatment center that can address their mental health needs.

Unfortunately, it can be difficult for untrained family members to differentiate between a mental health disorder, a substance abuse problem, and a combination of both. The support and experience of a professional interventionist can be invaluable in guiding your loved one to the help they need. Symptoms such as isolation, mood swings, depression, anxiety, difficulty concentrating, and suicidal thoughts may worsen with a dual diagnosis. However, knowledge of the multiplicity of genetic, psychosocial and other factors is essential for the diagnosis and treatment of the individual patient (Roy et al.).If the person does not identify what they are self-medicating in an attempt to treat their underlying issue, they will not be able to identify and eventually cure that imbalance.

For example, an individual in a manic state may justify a marijuana addiction as it helps to level their mood. As always in psychiatry, accurate diagnosis is limited to a careful clinical evaluation18 and, in the case of possible dual disorders, is complicated by the fact that both SUD and non-SUD can cause the same psychiatric symptoms (e.g. insomnia, anxiety, depression, manic behavior and psychosis). For many like me, having a dual diagnosis is a challenge, especially when you run the risk of severe and life-threatening withdrawal symptoms. Because people with a dual diagnosis may experience more extreme and chronic symptoms, they are more likely to neglect self-care.

Dual diagnosis is a common term used to describe someone with both a mental health disorder and a substance use disorder. It is quite common for those with mental health problems to prefer substances that offer relief from their psychological stress. A dual diagnosis carries its own set of unique problems, and understanding these issues is key to successful treatment and recovery. In a treatment setting, dual diagnosis requires specialized treatment and care that not all programs can provide. Adequate treatment should address both the social struggles of dual diagnosis as well as the disorders themselves.

A common problem with all current medical treatments for dual diagnosis is the gap between research advances and the practices of health maintenance organizations and other providers. Dual diagnosis describes a scenario in which people struggling with substance abuse are also diagnosed with a mental health disorder such as bipolar disorder, anxiety or depression. It is important to recognize that dual diagnosis requires specialized treatment and care that not all programs can offer.

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