January 17, 2022

What is Dual Diagnosis? A Review of Examples and Treatment Options

You've probably heard the term "dual diagnosis" if you've had a loved one suffering from drug addiction. But do you know what dual diagnosis means? Read on to learn more.

Dual Diagnosis Definition

Dual diagnosis is having a combination of drug addiction and mental illness. For example, you can struggle with depression and alcoholism concurrently. If not addressed, these disorders may worsen each other.

Every case is distinct. Dual diagnosis can occur to anyone and mainly occurs to those battling a substance addiction.

The majority of the people who struggle with alcohol and drug addiction usually have underlying mental health problems that are not adequately treated.

Some common symptoms of dual diagnosis include:

  • Using substances despite the dangers
  • Changes in personality or behavior
  • Continuous engagement in dangerous behaviors
  • Isolating yourself from others, including your loved ones
  • Continuing to abuse alcohol and drugs regardless of the risks of doing so
  • Confused thinking
  • Craving substance to function
  • Unable to control alcohol or drug use
  • Mood changes

Severe symptoms can include hallucinations, paranoia, delusions, or suicidal thoughts.

Examples of Dual Diagnosis

The most common mental disorders that coincide with substance use disorder include bipolar disorder, anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, and behavioral disorders. 

There isn’t a limit to the combinations of mental illnesses and substance use disorders. Here are several of the most common examples of dual diagnosis

  • Meth Addiction and Psychosis
  • Prescription Drug Addiction and Anxiety
  • Alcoholism and Depression
  • Opioid Addiction and PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder)
  • Marijuana Addiction and Schizophrenia
  • Benzodiazepines dependence and anxiety
  • Alcoholism and ADHD (Attention-Deficit Hyperactive Disorder)

Dealing with drug addiction, alcoholism, or substance abuse is never easy. It is even more complicated when you are struggling with mental health problems.

That’s why individuals with dual diagnoses become violent and are likely to commit suicide often.

Most Common Conditions With a Dual Diagnosis?

Several disorders recurrently present alongside addiction. In many instances, these disorders are the original cause of addiction.

That’s why it is essential never to disregard behavioral disorders when it comes to long-term addiction recovery.

Below are the most common conditions with a dual diagnosis for mental health. These disorders exist as a dual disorder when combined with a drug or alcohol abuse problem.

Mood Disorders

  • Depression
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Major depressive disorder
  • Dysthymia disorder (a persistent low mood combined with two or more symptoms of depression)

Anxiety Disorders

 Other mental health conditions that might co-occur include: 

  • Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder – OCD 
  • (Borderline personality disorder) BPD
  • Schizophrenia.

Treatment Options

Trying to stop alcohol or drugs without professional help can be very risky, even fatal. You are required to detox under close medical supervision for a safe withdrawal.

Mental disorders primarily affect how an individual receives treatment. Also, most people with dual diagnoses are likely to deny their substance use.

Progressive treatment, trying to deal with one problem at a time, is usually unsuccessful for long-term soberness.

Since every dual diagnosis case is distinctive, the treatment cannot be one-size-fits-all.

For instance, a person can be treated for cocaine addiction but fails to receive treatment for an underlying post-traumatic stress disorder.

The person may go back to cocaine when they feel stressed again.

Inpatient and Outpatient Addiction Treatment

Inpatient and outpatient rehab centers play an integral role in dealing with drug addiction. Through professional detoxification programs and counseling, one can recover from drug addiction.

This, combined with mental health treatment, is effective in dual diagnosis recovery. 

Medical specialists often prescribe medication to patients to lessen symptoms such as anxiety and mood swings.

The medication also controls hallucinations and avoids the re-emergence of traumatic occurrences. 

Bottom Line

The dual diagnostic disorder is a complex disease that requires comprehensive treatment.

Since the disorders usually trigger one another, dealing with one gives the other room to worsen. The patient becomes unable to stay mentally stable and neat.

Irrespective of the treatment method, dual diagnosis recovery is effective when the conditions are dealt with simultaneously.

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