What is Dual Diagnosis

What You Should Know About Dual Diagnosis

When you’re educating yourself about drug and alcohol addictions, you may see the word “dual diagnosis” being frequently mentioned. This concept is relatively new to psychologists; it has only emerged within the last three decades. At the time it is not fully understood, but great strides have been made which has allowed rehabs to better treat their patients.

What is dual diagnosis?

Dual diagnosis is also known as co-occurring or co-morbid disorders and describes a person who suffers from an addiction and a mental health or psychiatric disorder. Addiction includes drugs, alcohol, gambling, sex or a combination of things. Mental health issues refer to depression, anxiety, PTSD, panic disorder, OCD, multiple or borderline personality disorder, bipolar disorders, eating disorders and schizophrenia.

There is no pattern or standard for what a person will be addicted to and suffer from. A gambling addict could have severe PTSD; a cocaine addict may have depression, and an alcoholic may be bipolar.

Mental health issue and then addiction or vice versa?

You may wonder which one triggers the other. Addiction, particularly to alcohol, illegal drugs and pharmaceuticals is relatively common with people who have mental health issues. Likewise, a person could have no past history of mental health issues; develop an addiction only to become severely depressed with high anxiety afterwards. While both of these things are closely linked, one does not cause the other.

Someone who are depressed or traumatized by a past experience may use addictive substances as a way of self medication. Unfortunately, this means of escape is temporary and will worsen the symptoms of the mental health issue while increasing a tolerance for the drug and intensifying the addiction. Just the same, alcohol and drug use and abuse can increase the risk of developing or triggering mental health disorders.

In the case of any dual diagnosis, the addiction can intensify the mental health issues or interact with any medications like anxiety pills, CNS depressants, lithium or benzodiazepines.

What You Should Understand About Dual Diagnosis

Approximately 9.2 million adults have co-occurring mental health and addiction disorders in the U.S. alone. Therefore, it is important to understand dual diagnosis before you, or a loved one, seek a treatment center.

Self Medicating to Escape

When a person is suffering from a dual diagnosis, it is common for a user to self medicate with drugs or alcohol to escape the symptoms of the disorder. They may believe that drinking or getting high can help to manage the symptom. However, it is not uncommon for a person with, for example, bipolar disorder or schizophrenia to enjoy manic episodes and take stimulants or medication to further extend them.

Assessing the Dual Diagnosis

When a co-occurring disorder is suspected, professional screening and assessment should be made. This will be the first step to determine the origin of the symptoms and accurately diagnose the disorder and addiction at hand.

Diagnosing a Co-Occurring Disorder

Dual diagnosis is still not fully understood; therefore, it is common for underlying mental health issues to be mis-or- un-diagnosed. Rather, the behavioral issues are blamed on the addiction only. When this happens, the problem could potentially be missed altogether leading to a troublesome addiction treatment. Keep in mind that many private drug and alcohol rehabs will initially take mental health issues into consideration and tailor the program accordingly.

Treating Both Disorders

When there is a confirmed dual diagnosis, treatment for both issues is essential. This is because the mental health disorder can trigger the addiction and vice versa. Often, or eventually, these things become interwoven. Treating one without addressing the other can be ineffective and lead to a relapse or manic episode. A rehab program may offer intensive treatment for both disorders at the same time. However, for some people with very painful, elaborate backgrounds of abuse, it may be advisable to treat one and then the other, or one with the other as a secondary treatment. The reason for this is to not cause extreme shock to the individual leading them to completely shut down physically, emotionally and mentally.

Using Medications for Dual Diagnosis at Rehab

Sometimes medications can be useful to treat co-morbid disorders. Rehab centers may provide these, or the person may be allowed to bring their own prescribed bottle with them. These medications, although not typically advisable for long term use, can help to manage a detox, reduce cravings and control the mental health disorder.

Continuing Treatment is Vital

Rehab treatment programs which include an integrated selection of traditional and alternative therapies can help people to move forward into a sober life. It is always recommended that people who have a dual diagnosis to continue with therapy. This is because long term sobriety is dependent upon ongoing treatment.

Serenity Chaing Rai Rehab Can Help

Serenity Chiang Rai Rehab is a private addiction facility in Thailand. As a private rehab we are able to offer our programs to certain, but not all dual diagnosis persons. If you would like to know more about our integrated drug and alcohol treatment for dual diagnosis, please contact us today.