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Understanding Dual Diagnosis and Addiction

The two sides of understanding dual diagnosis and addiction.

Struggling with an addiction or a mental health disorder can be challenging on its own. However, when someone’s addiction leads to a mental health disorder or their mental health disorder leads to addiction, their condition becomes more complicated, requiring them to gain an understanding of dual diagnosis.

What Is Dual Diagnosis?

Dual diagnosis is also referred to as a co-occurring condition. It means that someone is suffering from both a substance abuse disorder and a mental health disorder. Both disorders must be treated as part of a comprehensive dual diagnosis treatment plan for the individual to recover and achieve sobriety. 

How Common Is Dual Diagnosis?

Dual diagnosis is more common than most people might believe. According to research published by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), in 2020, 17 million adults experienced both a substance abuse disorder and a mental health disorder, including:

  • 29% of people who were first diagnosed with a mental health disorder also developed a substance abuse disorder.
  • Approximately 50% of people that suffer from severe mental health disorders experience substance abuse problems. 
  • 53% of people with a drug abuse problem and 37% of people with an alcohol abuse problem also develop at least one serious mental health disorder.

As you can see, it is clear there is a link between mental health disorders and substance abuse disorders. 

What Is the Link Between Mental Health and Substance Abuse?

One common question people have about the link between mental health disorders and substance abuse disorders is which came first? The substance abuse disorder or the mental health disorder? 

On the one hand, it is especially common among men to use drugs and alcohol to self-medicate the symptoms of a mental health disorder rather than seek treatment for it. Abusing drugs and alcohol helps alleviate the symptoms of the mental health disorder. However, to achieve this relief, drugs and alcohol abuse intensifies and leads to dependence, then addiction. 

On the other hand, abusing drugs and alcohol could increase the risks of developing a mental health disorder in some people. For example, when there is a family history of a mental health disorder, like depression, it is possible for family members not to exhibit any of the symptoms. Yet, once they turn to drinking and using drugs, it can be the catalyst that causes the mental health disorder to fully manifest. Furthermore, the mental health disorder symptoms can continue to increase the more alcohol or drugs are abused. 

In addition, the abuse of certain types of drugs could trigger a mental health disorder. For instance, people who are addicted to opioid prescription painkillers have a higher risk of developing depression as a side effect whenever the medication starts to wear off. 

Dual Diagnosis Mental Health Disorders and Addictions  

Understanding dual diagnosis also requires being aware of the different mental health disorders and addictions that could lead to co-occurring disorders, such as: 

  • Depression
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • PTSD
  • ADHD
  • Anxiety
  • OCD
  • Eating Disorders
  • Alcohol Addiction
  • Opioid Addiction
  • Heroin Addiction
  • Marijuana Addiction
  • Meth Addiction
  • Stimulant Addiction

Treatment Challenges of Dual Diagnosis

As you can imagine, developing an effective treatment plan to treat both the addiction and the mental health disorder can have its challenges. For starters, it is crucial to treat both co-occurring disorders simultaneously regardless of what disorder came first. 

Focusing on one or the other could result in relapses and setbacks. For example, suppose the mental health disorder is treated first. In that case, there is a high probability the individual will continue to abuse drugs and alcohol, so very little progress will be made. 

Conversely, treating the addiction first could potentially cause the mental health disorder symptoms to become more intense and unmanageable. So again, there is a high likelihood of returning to using substances for relief. 

What Does Treatment Look Like for Dual Diagnosis?

For treatment to be truly effective, a multidisciplinary approach must also be used. It is essential to remember that treatment plans for dual diagnosis can vary based on the individual’s needs and requirements. A generalized treatment plan may include:

  • The use of medications to treat and manage the mental health disorder.
  • Substance abuse detoxification to purge the body of the addictive substances.
  • Different forms of therapeutic methods used during individual and group sessions. 
  • Nutrition and fitness education to strengthen the mind and body.
  • Holistic therapies, such as learning meditation or yoga. 
  • Developing effective coping skills and mechanisms to address cravings and triggers. 

Dual Diagnosis Treatment Center in Dallas, TX

Men looking for a dual diagnosis treatment rely on us at Casa Colina, a luxury rehab facility in Dallas. In addition, we offer customizable residential programs to help men suffering from co-occurring disorders to take the first steps to recovery. 

Our goal is to help you with understanding dual diagnosis, so you can overcome your substance abuse disorder and learn how to manage your mental health disorder to live a productive life. For further information about our dual diagnosis treatment center and programs for men, please feel free to use our contact form or call us today! 

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