Dual Diagnosis & Addiction

When you are dealing with a mental illness (such as anxiety, depression, BPD, etc.) and also suffering from addiction it is considered a Dual Diagnosis (Also known as co-occuring disorder). This article will cover how you can identify and manage a dual diagnosis.

More often than not, individuals are self-medicating their symptoms with substances in order to combat the intense feelings they are experiencing from diagnosed and/or undiagnosed mental illnesses. This action can result in either developing or intensifying co-occurring disorders. Dual Diagnosis’s are becoming more and more prevalent as time goes on, and in order to combat the issues at hand, we need to treat the disorders simultaneously. Here you will find information about Dual Diagnosis and what exactly it is, as well as how substance use and depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia affect the severity of the other co-occurring disorders.

What is Dual Diagnosis?  

A dual diagnosis is when someone has both an addiction to drugs or alcohol, and a mental health condition. Sometimes, the addiction part is addressed while the mental health condition goes without treatment and vice versa. Mental illness can contribute to substance abuse, and substance abuse can also contribute to the development of a mental illness. Both issues can be caused by genetic factors as well as environmental influences. Early exposure to stress and trauma can also make an individual more vulnerable to both of these disorders. Dual diagnosis is any combination of mental illness and any form of addiction. Dual diagnosis conditions affect nearly 9 million or 45% of Americans each year. Of those 9 million, approximately 7 % receive the treatment necessary. Not only is this due to a lack of resources, but there are also very few drug treatment centers that specialize in dual diagnosis cases. But how exactly does drug use correlate with a variety mental illness?

Addiction and Depression

Substance use and depression are a common dual diagnosis. Substance abuse is known to trigger or intensify those feelings of loneliness, sadness, and hopelessness. All the key symptoms of diagnosable depression. When these feelings arise, individuals look for an easy way out, and sometimes turn to substances to achieve that temporary relief from however they are feeling. It can bring them a sense of happiness so to speak. The more one partakes in this temporary relief, the likelier their body will become dependent on the effects. Over time, the substance use can cause other medical conditions, along with the depression they started off with. Dual Diagnosis treatment centers will tackle both of these disorders at once, in attempt to deter any added on medical conditions.

Addiction and Anxiety

Symptoms of Anxiety and a substance use disorder resemble each other so much that it can be difficult to distinguish which is causing which. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America estimates that approximately 20 percent of individuals that are diagnosed with an anxiety disorder also have substance abuse disorders as well. In some cases, substance abuse plays a huge role with the psychological symptoms of anxiety. Like depression, the more one partakes in this temporary relief, the likelier their body will become dependent on the effects. Most of the time individuals develop both of these disorders separately, but all in all, the combination of the two can be extremely difficult to defeat without professional treatment.

Addiction and Bi-Polar Disorder

Bipolar disorder tends to make individuals more likely to use and abuse drugs and alcohol. Those that don’t have a history of mental illness within their genetic makeup may also develop bipolar disorder as a result of their substance use as well. Bipolar disorder causes individuals to experience severe shifts in mood. These shifts can last for days, and up to weeks at a time. These episodes can occur as often as a few times a week, up to a few times a year. As stated above, substance use can intensify feelings of loneliness, sadness, and hopelessness, which are also key symptoms of bipolar disorder as well. It is more common than not that individuals with this disorder are tempted to use drugs because of the temporary relief it provides them from these unwanted symptoms. The best way to fight the battle of both of these co-occurring issues is to take part in dual diagnosis treatment that will treat these issues simultaneously.

Addiction and Bi-Polar Disorder

Bipolar disorder tends to make individuals more likely to use and abuse drugs and alcohol. Those that don’t have a history of mental illness within their genetic makeup may also develop bipolar disorder as a result of their substance use as well. Bipolar disorder causes individuals to experience severe shifts in mood. These shifts can last for days, and up to weeks at a time. These episodes can occur as often as a few times a week, up to a few times a year. As stated above, substance use can intensify feelings of loneliness, sadness, and hopelessness, which are also key symptoms of bipolar disorder as well. It is more common than not that individuals with this disorder are tempted to use drugs because of the temporary relief it provides them from these unwanted symptoms. The best way to fight the battle of both of these co-occurring issues is to take part in dual diagnosis treatment that will treat these issues simultaneously.

Addiction and Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia and Substance use disorder co-occur more than one would think. In fact, an estimated 50 percent of individuals who have been diagnosed with schizophrenia also have a history of substance abuse. Individuals diagnosed with Schizophrenia often engage in substance use as a way to self-medicate the symptoms they are experiencing, especially when feeling the symptoms of anxiety and depression. Schizophrenia isn’t caused by substance use, but it can act as a trigger. If there is a genetic risk factor for schizophrenia, and an individual has a history of substance abuse, it is possible for individuals to develop an active case of Schizophrenia. Substance use can increase the severity of the schizophrenic symptoms as well. The best way to fight the battle of both of these co-occurring issues is to take part in dual diagnosis treatment.

Given the information provided, we know a little more about how important it is to treat co-occurring disorders simultaneously, and what could happen if we ignore it completely. The combination of substance use and depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and/or schizophrenia can be detrimental to ones health if they don’t get it treated simultaneously.  If you or someone you know is struggling with co-occurring disorders and needs help please reach out.

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