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Friday, February 23, 2024

Dual Diagnosis: When Substance Use Meets A Mental Health Disorder

If you struggle with both a mental health issue and a substance abuse disorder, you have a dual diagnosis. Many people refer to this as a co-morbidity or co-occurring disorder. Regardless of what it is called, however, you need treatment for both conditions. Treating only one condition will not provide the desired results. What should a person know if they have a dual diagnosis?

Image by Mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

Understanding the Two Conditions

A person with a mental health disorder might suffer from depression, anxiety, or another mental health issue. A substance abuse disorder means they are addicted to one or more substances, such as alcohol or an illicit drug. When this individual struggles with both at the same time, the effects of each condition are often amplified. The mental health issues can lead to increased drug use, which makes the addiction worse. On the other hand, the addiction can lead to mental health issues. The person is in a cycle that they need help to break, and a dual diagnosis treatment center can be of help.

Signs of a Dual Diagnosis

Each condition comes with its symptoms. For example, a person suffering from bipolar disorder has different symptoms than a person with schizophrenia. Addiction symptoms also vary by the drug of choice. Therefore, there is no set of symptoms a person should look for when it comes to a dual diagnosis. If you suspect you have either an addiction or a mental health disorder, it is important to seek help right away. Medical professionals can help you determine what you are dealing with and how best to address it.

Risk Factors

Certain risk factors are seen with both mental health conditions and addictions. Genetics plays a role in both conditions, as do environmental factors, such as stress. Men and women with mental health conditions often choose to self-medicate with drugs. While they may provide temporary relief, the drugs exacerbate the mental health issues. Drug and alcohol use leads to changes in the brain. These changes may bring about mental health issues, leading to a dual diagnosis.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment Options

Both the mental health condition and the substance abuse disorder must be treated. Often, this involves detoxification. Once the substance is out of the user's body, therapy typically begins to address the mental health condition. One option is cognitive behavioral therapy. Medication may be prescribed to help you address the symptoms seen with the mental health condition and addiction, and many patients find they benefit from taking part in a support group.

Preventing a Dual Diagnosis

A person cannot completely prevent a dual diagnosis. However, if you know you have a family history of mental illness or addiction, you can speak to your medical provider. They will monitor you to catch symptoms early. Avoid the use of drugs or alcohol or keep them to a minimum to help minimize the risk of addiction, and learn more about your mental health condition. Knowledge is powerful when it comes to bettering your health.

Countless men and women live with a dual diagnosis today. Sadly, many of these individuals do not receive treatment for one or both conditions. With treatment, however, most of these individuals could lead a better quality of life. If you suspect you have a dual diagnosis, seek help today. Once you do, you can get back on the right path again and have a life you love.

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