In the 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) found that around 7.9 million adults have co-occurring disorders. This means that they struggle with more than one illness at once, such as a mental health disorder and a drug addiction. Oftentimes, one illness exacerbates the other, such as when someone who abuses drugs and alcohol becomes clinically depressed, or when someone self-medicates to cope with a mental health disorder ends up addicted to their drug of choice. They have what’s called a dual diagnosis.
What is a dual diagnosis?
This term refers to when a person has multiple mental disorders or addictive behaviors. For example, a person who has both obsessive-compulsive disorder and schizophrenia has a dual diagnosis. Depression and alcoholism is another type of dual diagnosis, as well as alcoholism and opioid addiction.
Unfortunately, if a person with a dual diagnosis seeks treatment, they might only be diagnosed for one illness and not the other. This can lead to problems down the road, such as when a person gets treatment for drug addiction, only to have their undiagnosed mental health illness lead to their relapse. For those who don’t know they have an undiagnosed illness, this can be frustrating, since they may continuously fall into a cycle of depression and/or relapse and be unable to understand why they are unable to maintain their recovery.
Evidence-based treatments mark our mental health, addiction and other programs.
All our locations treat addiction and dual diagnosis, while some offer additional specialized programs.
We offer adults and adolescents residential, outpatient and other levels of care.
A multidisciplinary team works together to provide the best care for every diagnosis.
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Recognizing a dual diagnosis
To be able to seek treatment for dual diagnosis, it is important that one be able to recognize certain signs or addiction or mental illness that signal for a need for treatment.
Some of the telltale signs that someone is addicted to a drug can include:
- A compulsion to use the drug regularly
- An inability to stop using the drug
- Making sure the drug is always available
- Spending money on drugs even though one cannot afford it
- Stealing or committing other illegal acts to get funds for drugs
- Depending on the drug to deal with everyday problems
- Driving or doing other risky activities while under the influence
- Increasing the amount of time spent on obtaining, using and recovering from drug use
Someone may also exhibit signs that they are dealing with a mental illness along with signs of substance addiction or may exhibit these symptoms on their own. Symptoms of a mental health disorder can vary according to which disorder the person is struggling with. Additionally, if they are abusing a drug, their symptoms may be hard to recognize as they can be mistaken for signs of substance use. Some symptoms of the presence of a mental health disorder can include:
- Experiencing excessive fears and worries
- Social withdrawal
- Overeating or undereating
- Oversleeping or insomnia
- Difficulties paying attention
- Inability to derive pleasure from hobbies
- Trouble keeping up with daily routines
If you or a loved one is exhibiting some of these symptoms, it can help to track them and present them to a medical professional when seeking a diagnosis. Once a proper diagnosis is reached, it is vital that both problems are treated together in order to successfully recover. This is called dual diagnosis treatment.