Understanding Dual Diagnosis: Mental Illness and Substance Abuse

Dual diagnosis, also known as co-occurring disorders, is a term used to describe a person who has both a mental illness and a substance abuse disorder. It is possible for either of these conditions to be evident first, and it is not uncommon for people with mental illness to resort to substances in an effort to self-medicate. Unfortunately, substance use can worsen underlying mental illnesses and even change the brain in ways that increase the risk of developing mental illness. The good news is that both mental health and substance use disorders can be treated. If you or someone you know is struggling with dual diagnosis, it is essential to seek help.

There are many resources available and, with the right treatment program, recovery is possible. In order to accurately diagnose and treat patients with dual diagnosis, it is important to understand the diagnostic criteria for dual diagnosis as well as which co-occurring disorders meet the criteria. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) can be particularly helpful in this regard, as it helps people learn how to cope and change ineffective thinking patterns that could lead to a return to substance use. Flowers Health Institute is one example of a treatment center that offers a wide range of services for people with co-occurring disorders and dual diagnoses. By standardizing the definition of dual diagnosis, physicians will be able to universally identify individuals with dual diagnosis rather than relying on individual professional opinion. Information and assistance are available to family, friends and people with dual diagnosis. Recovery from a dual diagnosis often begins with inpatient detoxification and substance use rehabilitation.

The national hotline can transfer you to your state's Drug and Alcohol Information Service, which can provide support, advice, information and referrals to people experiencing alcohol and other drug problems (including dual diagnosis), their family and friends. Counselors can conduct group and individual therapy sessions while residents take advantage of any of the activities and services offered by the center. People diagnosed with co-occurring disorders often need more intensive treatment due to the complexity of their case, which emphasizes the importance of doctors providing effective and efficient treatment. Ashish Bhatt explains the importance of accurately diagnosing and treating patients with a dual diagnosis. With the right treatment program, even in severe situations, recovery is possible.

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